Saturday, March 21, 2015

How being a doctor helps me to become a better angel investor:

It is not very common for doctors to become angel investors and I find that I am the only doctor in my angel investing groups, India Angels Network, Mumbai Angels and I3N.  Most angel investors seem to be either businessmen , entrepreneurs, or finance professionals , who take up angel investing either to give back, or as an additional source of income. 

I found angel investing  quite challenging initially , because it was hard to understand some of the business jargon. I am more comfortable discussing ECGs and MRIs, as compared to MVPs and USPs! I cannot create business models or Excel spreadsheets , and I still have to struggle in order to make sense of a profit and loss statement or balance sheet, but these are skills which I can learn , and over time I am getting better. 

So how does being a doctor help me become a better angel investor?  For one thing , as a doctor, I run my own IVF clinic, so to that extent at least I am an entrepreneur, and since I run a small business, I have to deal with the same challenges most start-up founders do.

I need to deal with hiring employees , training them and firing them; balancing my books; buying equipment; running a website ; and creating patient delight . Being a doctor is a full-time job, just like being a start-up founder is, and I find that I have to juggle multiple balls in order to ensure my clinic runs properly . This helps me to be a little more empathetic , when my founders run into trouble , or have difficulty coping with some of the challenges which being a start-up throws at them.

Because I have dealt with these challenges myself personally, it is easier for me to understand their road-blocks, and perhaps provide them with some of the emotional support which they need.  Being a doctor also means that I understand a little bit about what makes people tick . I can use what I know about applied psychology and emotional intelligence to be able to establish a better rapport with the founders, and hopefully this is of value to them.

Finally, as a doctor, I have to read quite a bit in order to help improve the quality of services I provide to my patients. In order to run my own website, I have to learn about technology, digital marketing and how to reach out to patients . These are some of the same challenges my founders face ( just substitute the word customers for patients) , and because I have tackled them and I know what some of the possible barriers and solutions are, I can share this information with them.

Interestingly, being an angel investor helps me to become a better doctor as well. I learn from the experiences of my founders and I can apply this knowledge to improving the way I run my clinic. They teach me productivity hacks, which help me to become a little more efficient.  I can leverage their digital skills and marketing experiences , and apply these to my own practice , and my personal life.  As an angel investor, I have multiple opportunities to learn , and since I invest across all domains, I find that everything is grist to my mill.  This allows me to be curious and read a lot , and I can then utilise all this learning not only for helping my founders to become more successful , but for helping myself to become more productive as well.

Some of my patients worry that if I start spending so much time on angel investing, I will no longer be able to provide them with good clinical care . I actually think the quality of medical services I will be able to provide them will become better , because I will be able to enhance my efficiency using some of the technological tools, tips and tricks which my founders teach me.  Thus, I marry my patient's medical needs with the technical expertise of my founders, to develop clinical apps, which help my patients take control of their IVF treatment .

Hopefully , I will be able to set up a positive virtuous cycle , so that as I become more experienced and make more mistakes, my medical expertise will not only help me to become a domain expert for those of my start-ups which happen to be in the healthcare space, but will also allow me to add value across multiple domains , not only for my founders but for my patients as well, and for my own clinic too.

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