We recently caught up with Eclipse Ventures Partner, Justin Butler, at the JP Morgan conference in San Francisco to talk about weathering macro-economic trends, the firm’s approach to company creation, and how that led to. an investment in BrightInsight. Watch the interview or read on for a recap.
Eclipse Ventures is an early-stage venture capital fund focused on the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. “We look at the industries that make up the 80 percent of GDP (gross national product) that venture capital has historically left out.” Eclipse—which recently announced $1.23 billion in new funds—has made investments in areas ranging from 3D metal printing, to large computer chips for AI, to self-driving cars.
“We specifically have a really unique interest in healthcare infrastructure, all of the tools and technologies that are needed to bring the next generation of healthcare and life sciences to the world.”
One thing that sets Eclipse apart is its partners’ backgrounds in operations. “I'm a chemical engineer. My partners come from places like Tesla and Rivian.” The Eclipse team is significantly involved in the operations of its portfolio companies, “to really help entrepreneurs who have fantastic ideas, and fantastic capabilities, to bring their ideas to scale that really matter for the world.”
“As operators ourselves, we love to partner with other operators, folks who have a unique insight into a certain aspect of their business, whether that's unique insight into the technology, unique insight into the distribution model, a unique insight into how some certain market is going to evolve over time.”
Eclipse’s approach to macroeconomic volatility is simple: focus on the fundamentals. “When we look at companies, we say, ‘What value are you providing to your customer?’ And if you can provide that value at significantly less cost to create it yourself, you're going to have a good business, regardless of the recessionary cycles, regardless of the funding cycles, regardless of the capital markets.”
In terms of company creation, the firm’s early-stage focus starts with a deep bench of thesis-generation expertise. “We like to look at very long-time horizons and say, ‘What are the technologies that are going to match with the right business models, that provide products and services for the largest industries in the world? And how do we help go build companies in that space?’” That means partnerships with seed and Series A founders to help them build impactful companies, across multiple decades.
“We'll see cycles come and go, but we feel that if we really focus on a couple of core things that matter, we'll see significant returns over that time period.”
The Eclipse team first encountered BrightInsight co-founder Kal Patel when he was president of Flex Digital Health, developing the first iterations of the BrightInsight platform; the VC firm was compelled by the idea from Day One. “We said, ‘Look, there is no reason why all of these industries should have software that's built in silos, that don’t talk to each other, don’t have a common platform upon which to transact data and transact information. And that's exactly what Kal was looking to build.”
So when he saw a founder with Kal's medical training and pharma background who could relate and communicate with customers in biopharma and, in fact, already had some of them signed up for the platform, “it was a really exciting investment for us.”
You can watch all the videos from our Digital Health C-Suite Series on our YouTube Channel.