Christopher Velis, Founder and Executive Chairman, Miraki Innovation
How do you work with the companies in which you invest? Tell us about your investment style.
Unlike the traditional venture capital approach, we don’t invest in pre-existing companies. Instead, we build companies in-house at our Venture Development Center which is located in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our funds invest in these companies during varying stages of development. While we build companies in-house, we also see them through to exit. Our unique new venture approach, the Miraki Method, starts by pinpointing current and future global healthcare demands and challenges, then utilizes our extensive network to uncover technologies that will most effectively solve those problems. We then build these ideas or inventions into companies. We have worked with researchers, engineers and scientists across the globe including at world-class universities such as Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Columbia University. The Miraki Method is built from knowledge and insights gained over the course of decades in medtech M&A during which we observed the challenges and failures new ventures faced. Using this method to build portfolio companies in-house allows us to solve specific market demands, offer solutions to global healthcare needs and risk-adjust our new ventures while building companies in a repeatable, efficient manner.
How do you differentiate between the opportunities that you see?
At Miraki, we are in the relentless pursuit of answers to critical medical technology needs and believe that there is a limit to the impact of cost cutting and the search for efficiency in healthcare systems. We leverage our strong relationships with prominent physicians, government entities and others to recognize the biggest global challenges. We then work with academic institutions and government agencies to identify technological breakthroughs that have the potential for true global impact and turn those ideas into companies whose innovations can change and save lives.
“For Miraki, a successful innovation is one that solves a large-scale challenge and meets the needs of physicians, regulators, hospitals, payers, investors and - most importantly - patients”
What are the key attributes you look at when evaluating a deal?
Our portfolio companies are built around global health problems that move and motivate us to act. For Miraki, a successful innovation is one that solves a large-scale challenge and meets the needs of physicians, regulators, hospitals, payers, investors and - most importantly - patients. We don't invest in existing companies that claim to have the right solution - we work with our partners to scour research labs and uncover cutting-edge IP that we can build into a solution to address the challenge at hand. Only after identifying the best solution do we proceed in building a company around it with the mission to help those affected by the problem. When choosing a company to build and invest in, we identify markets that are both needing a breakthrough technology and have been opened by a newcomer. The innovations we bring to market benefit from the effort and capital put in by a competitor to open the market, yet our innovations are often the next generation of that technology or a substantial improvement on the current market offering.
How do you think your current portfolio of companies has benefited most from your guidance?
I spent decades in M&A, advising more than 150 venture funds on four continents, and founding seven medtech companies. During this time, I recognized patterns in how medtech companies succeeded and failed during development and exit. I began to understand how teams worked best together, and how to successfully motivate team members to solve complex healthcare problems. I was fully immersed in the medtech category and began to intimately understand the trends and future problems facing the different sub-categories of medtech such as surgical robotics and aesthetic medicine. This included a deep awareness of how acquirers think and what they look for during the M&A process. For instance, within three months of licensing IP for one of our portfolio companies, acquisitions of two competitor products occurred totaling over $4 billion in value. I leverage my decades of medtech and investing experience in my work today and have used those learning experiences to create a proven and repeatable investment model that analyzes market viability and opportunity early, thereby reducing risk for our portfolio companies beyond what traditional VC firms do.