Last week, Endeavor Catalyst held virtually its fifth annual investor meeting. The gathering convened many members of the Endeavor Catalyst community, including many of the major investors and donors behind the $110MM+ Endeavor Catalyst funds, as well as entrepreneurs from its 150+ portfolio companies.
Started in 2012, Endeavor Catalyst is the innovative co-investment fund of Endeavor. The fund invests exclusively in Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies and seeks to sustain Endeavor’s long-term operations in a mission-aligned way. In just eight years, the fund has become widely recognized as one of the most active global investment firms. With its pioneering profit-sharing model, Endeavor Catalyst enables investors to generate a return while supporting both Endeavor Entrepreneurs and the organization itself.
During the annual meeting, Eric Lander, President and Founding Director, Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, joined Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder, LinkedIn & Partner, Greylock Partners for a one – hour fireside chat.
After discussing thoroughly the impact of the pandemic from a medical perspective, the speakers discussed the actions that leaders must be ready to take in order to limit the effects of a second wave of COVID-19. Eric pointed out the importance of paying for employees’ sick leaves and giving them equal access to healthcare.
He also insisted on the need for expanded use of masks, since it’s the only equipment we have until vaccines are released. “Make them cheap and wear them proud. Have leaders model the behavior of wearing masks” he suggested. However, according to the President of Broad Institute, the success of all protection measures depends on social cohesion. “An infectious disease attacks individuals, by attacking an entire network of society. If that network isn’t hung together, it will not succeed” Eric explained.
Eric suggested Telemedicine as one of the major entrepreneurial opportunities that arise during these times. “It is one of the best entrepreneurial areas, as it can save lives, apart from creating jobs and making money.” He also pointed out that online medical examinations would be much more effective than physical ones, since even in non pandemic times, many people – like people of color or those with less economic means – find it hard to take time off work and visit a doctor. “Even for those who have the resources to be able to take time off and go do it, it’s a vast waste of time for a ten minute visit, for most purposes”. Eric explained. “It turns out that over the course of a century people have worked out ways for doctors to interact with patients in person. I want to know how much of that can be conducted online, either for those who are lucky enough to have a computer to do it themselves, or to get to a shared computer to do such a thing.” He added.
Lander also insisted on the importance of making good use of Community Health workers. “Entrepreneurs think about fancy boxes that detect whether you have taken your medicine or not. I would say that the non-profit partners in health teach us that having a community health worker talk to you and observe you take your medicine for a couple of minutes, might be more effective than the fanciest techno-fix” he explained.
Eric also talked about the important role that the global community of Endeavor can play in the current crisis, by sharing scientific knowledge across the globe. He also stated that a pandemic doesn’t respect international boundaries. “In countries outside Europe and the United States, it will be important to see regional coalitions solving problems, because the resources just aren’t there”.
Finally, the speakers discussed the recent collaboration between Apple and Google on automated contact tracing. Reid Hoffman applauded the initiative, saying “it’s a very good thing that Apple and Google did this. It provides the best kind of general individual privacy, with a way of enabling our contact tracing in apps”.
“Contact tracing has been really effective in certain epidemics.” added Eric. “Nevertheless, contact tracing for COVID-19 is harder, because the spread is faster and it spreads through the air”. In order for contact tracing to be effective in this pandemic, “You need systems. You might be making a product but the world needs a system to actually do something and your product has to exist in that system. So it is important to think about how you look for and create those systems. Some of them are public goods and it’s worth everybody’s while even as entrepreneurs to create public goods, that then a product can fill in the last piece. But if it is doing the last piece without the rest of the pieces it is not going to be much of a great product” he explained.
The session wrapped up with Reid Hoffman pointing out that all humans are equal when it comes to a pandemic, thus urging people to be open and united. “The really important thing is to have openness and transparency and we have to have trust in that. The virus doesn’t distinguish between “are you country X country Y, race A race B. There may be genetics that cause it to hit some people more than others, but we are all on the same boat”.
Endeavor Catalyst is the innovative co-investment fund of Endeavor, set up to invest exclusively in Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies and to sustain Endeavor’s long-term operations in a mission-aligned way. Since launching in January 2012, Endeavor Catalyst has raised over $110M in philanthropically donated and invested capital, and invested into more than 150+ Endeavor companies in over 24 markets. To date, Endeavor Catalyst has co-invested alongside a number of leading venture capital and growth equity funds, including Accel Partners, General Atlantic, NEA, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global. Investments include Globant (NYSE: GLOB) in Argentina, Yemeksepeti.com (acquired by Delivery Hero) in Turkey, and dr. consulta in Brazil. Learn more here.