In this video, Dr. Don Lazas shares his insights on how GI physicians can take the spirit of entrepreneurship beyond private practice.
The Transcribed Interview:
Praveen Suthrum: You are a physician entrepreneur involved in many different companies. And there are a lot of physicians out there, gastroenterologists particularly, who want to go through perhaps what you’ve gone through. So, I have a twofold question here – What has been your journey like? And what advice do you have for physicians who want to follow your path?
Dr. Don Lazas: Well, a very interesting question and you know, I don’t really think of myself as a pioneer, but I guess in some ways I have been as a gastroenterologist. I look at great innovative thinking inside of practices around the country and there are some really smart, business-oriented gastroenterologists. I met a lot of them that are really leveraging their business knowledge and their calculated risk tolerance to develop important new ventures inside their practice and I think that’s spectacular. I really applaud that and love that entrepreneurial spirit. But I think, the same spirit can extend beyond the practice, you know.
One of the things that I’ve learned, when we started our investment company several years ago, I knew what I brought to the table. So, I knew clinical medicine, I knew gastroenterology, I knew the doctor-patient relationship and I had a sense where technology was going to take the field of healthcare in terms of digital health. And all that excited me a lot. But what I didn’t know, I made a very calculated decision, to partner with other individuals who brought other skills to the table. So, those could be business skills, healthcare operator skills, banking and legal skills, deal skills – how do you construct a deal? How do you negotiate with an entrepreneur to invest in their company? People who had been in venture capital learned a lot through partnering with smart individuals.
So, I think the most important thing that I could share is – If you’re interested, start reaching out to folks in the community that you know and respect. And begin talking to them about your interests and entrepreneurial activities. There’s two ways to go. You starting your own venture. I think there are a lot of resources out there that can help healthcare entrepreneurs learn about the mechanics of how to start a company. Then there is investing in early-stage companies which I’ve done quite a bit as well and it’s not for the faint of heart. Don’t make it a large part of your portfolio, right? 10% or less. But it’s very exciting, invigorating and I think you win some and you lose some. But I think what you learn is – you learn how to have a mindset of innovation.
You have to take risk. If you’re going to learn anything in life but specifically in entrepreneurial endeavors, you have to be in it. You have to have your hands in it. You have to be doing it. You have to be writing cheques. You have to be investing your time and resources. And until you have your skin in the game, it is really hard to create opportunities and success. I think those are just some general themes that hopefully will be helpful. I always enjoy talking to the entrepreneurs about their interests and I have been quite busy these days with ObjectiveGI, growing the company. So, yeah, that’s just some of my insights.
By Praveen Suthrum, President & Co-Founder, NextServices.