Chicago’s top venture capitalists are well-known leaders whose identities often define their firms. But what about those who aren’t on the marquee? Behind the big names, there are principals and associates finding deals, mentoring startups and figuring out how to improve the industry they work and play in. Blue Sky introduces you to some of the folks helping Chicago firms figure out where to invest their millions.
Role: Health-tech venture capitalist covering both new investments and operational portfolio work
Signature deal: Livongo Health
Mentors: Glen Tullman, Lee Shapiro, Steve Koch, Mark Angelson
Education: Harvard Law School, 2008; Harvard College, 2003
Social media: @DerekLindblom on Twitter
Some venture capitalists worry about growing their Twitter followings. Derek Lindblom, of 7wire Ventures, thinks that if you’re focused on being the star, you’re doing venture capital wrong.
“How can I add value with it not being about me?” he said.
Lindblom has a hybrid role at the companies run by entrepreneur Glen Tullman, serving as vice president and chief of staff at both 7wire Ventures and Livongo, Tullman’s health-tech company that helps individuals track chronic conditions. Livongo, which launched with a diabetes-monitoring device, announced last month it had raised $52.5 million in new money. It has raised more than $100 million since launching in 2014.
“It feels like I’m doing something in the world that’s creating not just a one-time event, but creating a company that’s specifically producing these positive outcomes for these people who weren’t being supported by the healthcare system in the way they needed before,” Lindblom said.
He previously served as chief of staff for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s economics council, spent a few years as a consultant for health care companies at Bain & Co. and was a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate., including for Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.
Behind the Money: Art + engineering = a VC with a passion for the Internet of Things
Lindblom’s interest in health-tech companies is informed somewhat by his obsession with health-care regulation and reform, which he feeds by reading not only mainstream writers but also “what other people might consider bland: health-care economists,” he said. His background in law helps him parse the dense materials.
And he doesn’t stop there. Sometimes, he digs into old textbooks on the economics of health care when he needs to figure out complex payments questions. When investing, he is more interested in mission than experience. He said a focus on purpose can help a company get through all sorts of rough patches.
In his free time, Lindblom plays basketball, does triathlons and serves on the neighborhood association board for Lincoln Park, where he lives.
“We’re all in this together,” he said, “and if we can build great companies, build great neighborhoods, build great communities, if we can do it together, if we can work together, we can get to great solutions.”