Builders Gotta Build

The earliest stages attract a particular type of person and studios begin work at the very earliest stages, often before an official business entity is established. The people attracted to this type of work are a rare breed —  excited by undefined possibility, undeterred by the nebulous, and eager to build in the most active sense of the word.

Meet Dave

As Partner at 1870 Ventures, Dave Billiter leads the origination efforts for Digital Health, discovering opportunities and identifying promising intellectual property in the space.  Dave is an accomplished founder and operator with over 20 years of expertise in data strategy, product development, and technology innovation in healthcare and life sciences. Dave’s experience spans organizations like Cardinal Health, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and, most recently, serving as a co-founder and CEO of Deep Lens.

What’s Your Favorite Part About Beginnings?

The ability to create.  The whole idea of jumping from nothing to something, I love molding an idea into a real thing. Taking a blank canvas and leveraging the people, process, and tools around you to create something special. I love building the business model, defining and assembling the key personnel, understanding what moves the client/customer, and building the product to take to market.  The excitement and buzz around a new mission and vision is so exhilarating— that type of energy is infectious.

What Drives You?

I have been in Health and Life Sciences for over 20 years, even after all that time, I continue to see the passion and commitment of the people in this field — it’s inspiring. The idea of contributing to that gets me up in the morning.

I am a problem solver at heart.  For better or worse, there are tons of problems ripe for solving in healthcare and life sciences.  It’s empowering to know the potential impact of what we’re doing — the companies we’re building could identify new cancer biomarkers, discover the next treatment for a rare disease, or enable access to a life-saving drug for a patient.  We’re able to tie our expertise in business-building, data, finance, innovation, marketing, whatever it may be,  to amplify the work of those committed people in the healthcare field. It's a real, tangible impact and that’s gratifying.

What important trends do you see emerging in health sciences?

I continue to be excited about artificial intelligence and all its permutations. There are so many possible applications of AI and so many places for it to become embedded into existing health workflows — that’s super interesting. For example, we see opportunities for drug developers to utilize AI in many areas of their value chain, from R&D through to the connected patient side.  Regenerative medicine will continue to grow and mature, with advancements in cell therapy, tissue engineering, and immunotherapy. I also find it interesting to watch the surrounding spaces around these maturing medical advancements— like manufacturing and logistics needed to support these changing and emerging industries.

Everyone who knows me knows that my truest answer to this question is: data.

Both in the digital and biotechnology focus areas of health sciences, data is the core. It will be critical to capture, integrate, manage, and to build intelligence around the immense data resulting from these new technologies and practices.  That data is what leads to the next trend, the next breakthrough, so creating the appropriate infrastructure to harness and decipher that data in the long term, is important at the outset.

Why 1870?

After Deep Lens, I had a bit of a crossroads. I needed to figure out the next opportunity that would excite me and one that would match my values and allow me to create a meaningful impact with a team that I felt connected to.

I found that 1870 Ventures was filling a gap in the market with a true Venture Studio model. The model brings both the Capital and Operators to the table at the earliest possible stages. The focus on partnerships with leading institutions, building on intellectual property and investments, and becoming the commercial partner to build great companies was very attractive to me.

The sector focus around Health Sciences was a solid match with my expertise and I have previous experience operating companies and even licensing intellectual property from multiple institutions — it was just an easy fit and I could quickly see that  I could add value.