Rosanna Lapham, a physician specializing in pathology from South Carolina, saw the need for innovation in healthcare and at one point set out to found a startup specializing in her field with some colleagues. But as a full-time physician, she just didn’t have the bandwidth at that time to do so. Instead, she began exploring other startups, looking for opportunities to invest in innovative technologies within the healthcare space.
Along the way, she decided to enroll in courses offered by Y Combinator to gain insights into angel investing, and after that micro-investing piqued her interest, which led her to Republic where she invested in three startups. Y Combinator is a well-respected incubator that funds early-stage startups and gives them guidance as they develop their projects. Rosanna took two different classes there—the online startup school and the investor school, which helped her learn the ropes of angel investing.
Now, she’s eager to share what she’s learned with other women, to galvanize them into investing. In her spare time, she helps her daughter with an e-commerce site called Kieucurate.
Here are a few of Rosanna's thoughts and insights about investing in early-stage startups.
What got you interested in startups?
I think it just stems from being in healthcare and having challenges in healthcare. As a physician, it can be tough to find a team of people to work on a project because we're very busy. Part what got me interested in startups was the drive to innovate in healthcare, and then I started to follow Y Combinator. There’s just so many interesting people in the field, and I enjoy reading about it.
I also wanted to be a role model for my daughter. She's 25, and she's lived in different countries, and she and I have a little startup in e-commerce. She runs most of it, and that's been kind of fun.
I also wanted to be a role model for my daughter.
What was your main takeaway from the classes you took at Y Combinator?
The startup community is willing to share both their successes and failures. These lessons can help others get started on their projects and feel a part of the community by either investing or trying to take an idea to market.
Were there any startups on Republic that you invested in that really excited you?
I think the first one I invested in was Roomi, and of course there was CNS Pharma, which is in my field. I also invested in Vacayo.
What specifically drew you to Republic?
I like the badges investors have on their profiles that show the kinds of founders they've supported, like female founders and minority founders. There's also a lot of variety in the startups you can invest in.
I understand that you have an interest in cryptocurrency as well. Is there anything specific about that space that excites you?
There are some blockchain applications in healthcare, which is why I wanted to learn about it. Then I went to SXSW last year in Austin, and they had a lot of panels on cryptocurrency. Although I'm in the medical field and in science, I don't have a Computer Science background, so I was trying to understand it. I have a much better idea of the technology now, and I also continue to read about it.
There are some blockchain applications in healthcare, which is why I wanted to learn about it.
Have you found any sites particularly helpful?
I definitely go on Medium, and there are always articles I see on Google news about cryptocurrency. I also go to TechCrunch and really like Product Hunt as well. Product Hunt is how I learned about Y Combinator — they posted about the startup school on their website.
I learned that you’re also interested in inspiring women to invest in startups and cryptocurrency. Is there any way you think we can go about making this happen?
I think professional women's groups are a really good way to get information out to them about investing and also blockchain. Because there are blockchain applications in many fields, like healthcare and finance, for example, women working in these fields will need to learn about it. So women’s groups are probably a great way to do that.