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Cornell University


Thursday, March 05, 2015 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM
Beckie Robertson from Versant Ventures

Join the BME 7900 seminar series as they host Cornell alum Beckie Robertson, Managing Director of Versant Ventures, a healthcare venture capital firm she co-founded in 1999. With $1.9 billion under management and offices in North America and Europe, Versant invests not just money, but also time, resources, expertise, contacts, blood, sweat, and tears to help companies succeed.

Beckie Robertson specializes in early-stage investing in medical devices and diagnostics at Versant. Her career encompasses 23 years of venture capital and operating experience in medical products as an engineer, entrepreneur, corporate executive and investor. Before co-founding Versant, Beckie was a general partner at Institutional Venture Partners (IVP).

From 1994-1996, Beckie served as Senior Vice President at Chiron Diagnostics, a division of Chiron Corporation, where she had responsibility for the $200 million Critical Care business unit. In addition, Beckie was Vice President of Business Development where she led numerous deals in support of Chiron Diagnostics business and technology objectives. Prior to joining Chiron, she was a co-founder and Vice President at Egis, an IVP portfolio company, and held senior management positions in operations and finance at Lifescan, a Johnson & Johnson Company. During her seven-year term at Lifescan, the company grew from an early-stage venture-funded company to a worldwide market leader in diabetes diagnostics.

A special lunch/Q&A with Beckie is scheduled for 12-1pm on March 5. Priority is given to BESTies and BME students on an RSVP basis. Let me know if you would like to attend, at

Here are some take-away messages shared by Beckie Robertson over lunch:

- Real-world experiences are very important (e.g. internship) for non academic careers. Definitely try to seek out these experiences. Basic business courses may be useful but are generally not worth the time - it is better to focus on your area of expertise (especially in undergraduate)

- Career transitions: Her first position was very good, primarily based on luck. After that, she intentionally sought opportunities where she respected and admired those she would be working for/with. After the first job, you will be judged (rightfully) on your past performance and successes.

- Work/life balance is always difficult, so it is important to love what you do. Your balance can change over time, but there should always be some balance

- Venture capital positions are generally held by people in the middle of their career (rarely entry-level). It is good to have a hands-on experience with starting businesses as well as specialized knowledge in a technical field.

- Biotech industry trends are very hard to predict. Comment: Medical devices are unstable and difficult to get venture backing due to the large regulatory hurdles in addition to the commercial risks.

- Important personal traits: Creative problem solving (not just technical); Ability to collaborate; Resilience; Persistence.

- When pitching an idea, the most important step is to clearly articulate the problem you are solving.

UPDATE: (August 2015)

Versant Launches a New York Life Sciences Incubator called "Highline Therapeutics"

226 Weill Hall
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