Venture

Ex-Kleiner Perkins Partner Closes $87M Early-Stage Healthcare Focused Fund

Lynne Chou O’Keefe’s version of the Super Bowl includes a penthouse, 300 entrepreneurs, small groups and fireside chats about healthcare providers: the JP Morgan Digital Healthcare Conference.

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And this year, she said, it’s going to be more hectic than ever. O’Keefe just closed an oversubscribed $87 million fund focused on early-stage healthcare companies, Define VC, per an SEC filing. She plans to invest with checks sized between $750,000 and $6 million across 15 to 18 investments. Current portfolio companies include HIMS, a direct-to-consumer wellness company, Tia, a womens healthcare platform and Lightship, which provides direct-to-patient clinical research solutions.

It took O’Keefe a little over a year to raise this inaugural fund, and the ex-Kleiner Perkins partner declined to disclose any LPs.

While O’Keefe hails from Kleiner Perkins, she pointed out that operating experience is the key differentiator between her fund and the number of healthcare funds out there.

“[Define VC] really came from entrepreneurs,” she told Crunchbase News. “This is not an easy space to innovate in, they need people with experience building successful companies in digital health, people with real operating experience.” She explained that is why she prefers to call her investments “partners” instead of portfolio companies.

Describing it as “in the trenches operational experience,” O’Keefe spent time travelling the world–from India to Western Europe–training sales teams on behalf of Abbott, a digital health management product. She also led the effort on revamping an entire logistical chain, from research and development to manufacturing facilities, and all the way out to the customer–just because one of her products needed temperature-controlled storage.

The other member of Define, Chirag Shah, a principal, also comes from both investing and operating backgrounds.

Before heading back to prep for the digital healthcare conference–and the three forums she’s participating in along with it–O’Keefe shared a note on diversity: 29 percent of her portfolio companies are founded and led by women.

“When you look at the business of healthcare, women control 80 percent of the healthcare decisions in the home, they are the chief medical officers of the home,” she said.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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