May 14, 2024
Cross-Border Impact Ventures: Investing In Transformative Health Companies To Meet The Needs Of Women And Children
Pulse 2.0 interviews Managing Partner Annie Theriault about CBIV's mission to be the preferred investor for transformative health technology companies with the potential to meet the needs of women, children, and adolescents across global markets.
Cross-Border Impact Ventures

Cross-Border Impact Ventures (CBIV) is on a mission to be the preferred investor for transformative health technology companies with the potential to meet the needs of women, children, and adolescents across global markets. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Cross Border Impact Ventures managing partner Annie Thériault to learn more about the firm.

Annie Thériault

What is Thériault’s background? Thériault’s said:

“Throughout my career, I’ve been immersed in impact investing, venture capital, royalty financing, and capital markets. “I co-founded CBIV to invest in health technology companies that are creating innovations that have the potential to save lives or transform healthcare in North America, Europe, and emerging markets with the goal of not only achieving positive health impact in traditional markets but also reaching the world’s most underserved populations who are not typically offered the best medical solutions.”

“Before CBIV, I was an investment professional, progressively growing in my career, including in public and private markets; and most recently was Chief Investment Officer at Grand Challenges Canada – an impact-first funder of healthcare innovations that I joined to learn about impact investing.. I was also previously an advisor to crowdfunding fintech company FrontFundr; and an advisor with FemTech Canada, a member of the United Arab Emirates Global Council for Sustainable Development Goals (Health and Health Financing committees) until the initiative’s completion this year. I am currently a mentor with the Canadian Forum for Impact Investment and Development (CAFIID) and represent our firm with the Association of Emerging Impact Managers (AIEM).”

Evolution Of CBIV’s Thesis

How has your firm’s thesis evolved over time? Thériault noted:

“The thesis has remained quite consistent over time. We aim to invest in health technology companies at the early commercialization stage, but one of the changes we’ve observed in the market over the past five years is that the nomenclature around investment rounds and the sizes of rounds relative to the growth stage has moved around quite a lot. We now define the stage more by specific growth milestones instead of naming the round. However, we generally still invest in Series A or B rounds along with co-investors.”

“We’ve noticed that there are a wide variety of investment opportunities that can truly be transformative for women’s and children’s health and have confirmed, time and time again, that without impact investors at the table, the most transformative health technologies that address our needs struggle to raise capital. And when they do, investors are not as interested in the needs and opportunities represented by focusing on the whole market, including underserved people – whether underserved populations are situated in developed markets or in the Global South. We do things differently and what we consistently see for most companies is that their impact strategy provides commercial benefits and vice versa.”

Favorite Memory

What has been Thériault’s favorite memory working for CBIV so far? Thériault reflected:

“I would say one of my favorite moments is when we got together recently as a group for a team dinner. Sometime during the evening, I looked around and it really sank in that we had grown from our small group of four highly motivated individuals working on an idea to a larger group, all the while keeping our core values of doing well while also doing good. Our team genuinely enjoys the work we do and we also have amazing partners and families that support us. It’s great to see that these values are holding true as we grow.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of your firm’s most significant milestones? Thériault cited:

“I think that would be getting the first close of our first fund done. It came after about six weeks of getting up at 4 or 5 am while working late in the evening to get agreement on the documents, as well as a series of travel to Europe and the UK and countless zoom calls to get all investors aligned. It was a huge success to pull this off. After our first close, which we announced along with the launch of our firm in December 2021, we were able to begin investing and it really helped us secure the additional investment capital.”

Investment Success Stories

After asking Thériault about investment success stories, she highlighted:

“One of our portfolio companies, Sonio, is a French software company optimizing the process of taking fetal ultrasounds with AI. The company is currently implementing its solution with one of the largest US chains of pediatrics clinics and hospitals. This was a huge win and a clear indication that we selected a company with world class technology. What’s more, the company is also selling its products in Europe, Brazil, Nigeria, and India where it is having an impact on mothers and babies in each region. It’s a great example of what we’re targeting as a firm – financial success AND impact on people in an inclusive way.”

Assets Under Management (AUM)

How much committed capital does CBIV have for its first fund? Thériault revealed that the first fund represents US$90 million of total AUM.

Industry Focus

What are some of the industries that your firm is focused on? Thériault pointed out:

“We invest in health technology companies, including software companies, medical device companies and diagnostic companies. While we also review companies focused on therapeutics, their timelines don’t tend to fit our approach of focusing on commercial-stage start-ups.”

Differentiation From Other Firms

What differentiates CBIV from other firms? Thériault emphasized:

“Our impact investment approach combined with our focus on women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health are key differentiators compared to other firms. All our portfolio companies, which are typically based in North America and Europe, sign impact pledges to achieve significant impact goals in low- and middle-income countries while also growing commercially.”

“Because of our strategy, we have built a unique network of clinicians and technology experts across a variety of health focus areas and types of technologies, including individuals that are world renown in their fields as well as nurses and other healthcare professionals from the smallest villages. Often what we see is that there is a positive feedback loop between impact and return and that’s what we work with companies on enabling.”

Challenges Faced

What are some of the challenges faced while working at the firm? Thériault acknowledged:

“The biggest obstacle we’ve had to date was certainly fundraising. While typical startups need to have a target list of 50-100 potential investors and other venture funds typically target 2-500 prospective investors, we spoke to well over 1,500 connectors and prospective investors on our journey to raising this fund. We heard ‘no’ several times along the way but kept doing what we said we were going to do and kept potential investors updated at a reasonable frequency. Ultimately, that strategy worked because we built strong relationships of trust over the process. It wasn’t an easy journey, but we’re very proud to have accomplished our goal to raise a good size fund to implement our strategy.”

Future Firm Goals

What are some of your firm’s future goals? Thériault replied:

“First and foremost, we want to deliver strong returns and impact for this fund. We are grateful for the trust of our investors and are deeply motivated to achieve the mission of the fund, which is both strong financial and impact performance.”

“Secondly, we’re already working on future financial products which we are likely to begin raising late 2024 to early 2025 once we’ve selected all the assets for this first fund. The next fund will be largely aligned with the first, with possibly some new health areas to emphasize more, such as nutrition. We have some time to think about this and are excited to continue to grow the strategy inclusively.”

Additional Thoughts

Any other topics to discuss? Thériault concluded:

“I think it’s important for investors to consider the potential of impact funds as part of their impact investment strategy. Often, groups think that direct investing is the only way to achieve impact, but by also investing in funds they get to address other priorities that may not be their speciality. Also, investing in impact funds often helps add diversity in the financial sector as impact investment teams tend to be more diverse.”

“Finally, by supporting emerging managers raising their first, second, or third fund, foundations and other asset owners help diversify the industry as well as mobilizing additional capital towards impact investing. It’s incredibly challenging to get to critical mass and every investment dollar counts to reach sizes large enough for larger allocators to take interest.”

Original article

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