07 Dec CEO Corner – December 2020
The Evolution of Link-age Labs – Part II
Where did we leave off in Part I? Oh yes…here we go…
So, to recap, we had the distribution network to access the market, subject matter expertise, and a research company, all of which were vital elements of a business model that could make its mark in the Longevity Economy. But something was still missing. We needed an efficient way to deploy capital in order to monetize the opportunities we were uncovering.
After working in consultation with John Hopper (now the Chief Investment Officer of the Ziegler Link-age Family of Funds) to rebuild Link-age Ventures into something that could do more than one-off investments, we went in search of a partner. In 2012 we met with Ziegler, the leading investment bank in senior living to see if they were interested in working with us to launch one of the first private equity funds of its kind to invest in the Longevity space. Eight years later, with two private equity funds totaling $63,000,000 in capital raised, more than 120 Limited Partners, 28 investments made, 4 successful exits, and a third Fund on the way, I am happy to report…they said YES! And they all lived happily ever after…or so you might think.
Despite all the wonderful accomplishments, remember how I told you that something was really bothering me? Well after years of observing, it all started to make sense…the real issue was…
The real issue causing me concern was a fundamental disconnect in the way our industry was driving innovation. What I observed was a siloed approach in the sense that, geographically, there was very little coordination or knowledge about what type of innovation was taking place in other parts of the country, or even the world. Simply put, senior living providers were innovating with other senior living providers, while acute care providers were innovating with their industry peers, completely separately. I also witnessed other key stakeholder groups missing from the innovation loop as well, like consumers, payors, and representatives from the public policy sector. The result was a disjointed approach to developing products, services and technologies needed by older adults.
Armed with this insight, Link-age has spent the better part of the last two years having in-depth conversations with trusted partners throughout the US and beyond to see if there might be a different way to create valuable solutions. What we learned was there is a strong appetite for engaging a broad range of participants from across the healthcare spectrum who could come together and employ a more holistic development approach that would put the consumer at the forefront of the innovation process.
I am happy to report that all of this learning has led us to the next evolutionary stage of development for Link-age. This latest initiative, Link-age Venture Labs, will be an innovation and investment platform comprised of a diverse set of stakeholders from throughout the healthcare ecosystem and beyond who are deeply committed to solving the challenges facing our aging population and those who serve them.
We plan to employ a nimble (“grassroots”) approach to fostering innovation by leveraging the insights and deep connectivity of the various stakeholder groups represented by our partner organizations. Our work will include identifying and assessing needs, prioritizing and developing solutions, testing across our ecosystem, and launching new start-ups focused on the older adult consumer throughout the healthcare continuum.
Over the course of the next six months, in partnership with our Link-age Board, we will be reaching out in earnest to a trusted group of subject matter experts to stress test the strategy concept, refine the business model and begin identifying the infrastructure needed to make our vision a reality. We realize this is a daunting task, but we plan to employ the “crawl, walk, run” approach so that we give ourselves the best chance to succeed. Along the way we will keep you apprised of our progress and, as always, would welcome hearing from you.
We at Link-age thank you for your continued trust in us and your partnership. We wish all of you the very best this Holiday Season and hope you are able to safely enjoy much-needed time with family and friends!