Linda Greub: Challenging the Status Quo

Linda Greub Exeleon Magazine

Being a woman in business is no easy task. Workplaces can still have a “boys club” mentality when the men make decisions together and women are left without equal standards, mentorship, or a voice.

Women who are starting their own businesses are not an exception to this status quo. Although teams with diverse leaders have been shown to have better decision-making, better financial returns, faster exits, higher revenues per dollar raised, and more innovation than homogeneous teams, women are still shortchanged. In fact, in 2021, only 2% of the total venture capital funding went to female-led companies.

To make matters worse, female leaders focused on women’s health are at an even greater disadvantage than their peers since they’re seeking support from a male-dominated investment industry. Those men may lack the requisite expertise – not to mention the comfort level – around topics concerning women’s health.

Amidst this prevalent concern, there is a leader who is determined to change the venture capital industry’s landscape, fund more businesses centered around women’s health, and provide a launch-pad for more female founders – Linda Greub.

Back in 2019, Linda Greub co-founded Avestria Ventures with the objective of tipping the unfavorable scales of venture capital fundraising towards early-stage women’s health and female-led life science companies.

Growing Up Years

Linda grew up in a culture focused on innovation and independence, and, as a result, never saw herself pursuing a conventional career option. “I always wanted to start a business and find that big idea which inspired me enough to go after it on my own.”

Her maternal grandfather was a successful inventor and entrepreneur, and her mother worked at the Pacific Stock Exchange. Talking about her mother, Linda recalls, “She was very focused on her personal investment portfolio. She felt that understanding finance and investment was a necessary part of any education.”

After receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School, Linda started her own finance and investment journey: in equity investment management. But she found herself becoming increasingly focused on the life sciences space and, subsequently, working in corporate development and finance roles at both global- and venture-backed life science companies, such as VitaPath Genetics, Novartis Diagnostics, Singulex and Raindance (sold to Bio-Rad).

In every job she took, she found something very specific about which she was interested in learning more. Her learnings, curious nature, and growth mindset helped her leverage her experiences in both the investment and life science worlds to form her own business: Avestria Ventures.

“With Avestria,” Linda reflects. “I found not only that big idea that led me to start and run my own business but also a business that allows me to keep learning every day.”

Avestria’s Mission:

Before Avestria Ventures was founded, Linda and two of her business school classmates used their own money to invest in female-led startups. As women in male-dominated spaces like investment, entrepreneurship, and healthcare, the three classmates-turned-co-investors was all too aware of how female entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage when it comes to venture capital funding.

“Female founders have shown to perform better than male-owned ones: they have 35% higher ROIs and 63% higher valuations on average compared to all male-teams and generate $0.78 revenue generated per dollar raised vs. $0.31 for all-male teams,” Linda shared.

However, only after she and her classmates first invested in nVision, which had developed a novel solution to help detect ovarian cancer at an early stage, did Linda realize that female founders centered around women’s health were doubly disadvantaged.

“Investors tend to invest in people who look like them and ideas that affect them,” Linda says. “A male-dominated venture community usually doesn’t have expertise in, passion in or even comfort with women’s health.”

“The result is that they don’t fund those entrepreneurs and those companies,” she adds.

In a bid to address this lack of representation of women in the venture capital market, Linda and her business school classmate and fellow investor Corinne Nevinny, decided to start Avestria Ventures with a mission to invest in early-stage women’s health and female-led life science ventures.

As female health executives and current female investors, the Avestria team understands not only the complexities of the space but also the challenges that women face as entrepreneurs and in healthcare. The collective experiences of each Avestria team member help them gauge opportunities for investment, innovation, and improvement.

“At Avestria Ventures, by investing in early-stage women’s health and female-led life science companies, our goal is to make a positive change across three levels,” Linda summarizes. “Encouraging growth in women’s health, providing support to female founders, and changing the face of the venture capital industry, which is mostly white and male.”

Balancing Life

As a woman in business herself, Linda Greub has firsthand experience when it comes to the trials of wearing multiple hats at all times. She realizes the importance of balance and how working mothers, unfortunately, seem to have the most to juggle.

At the same time, Linda mentions how being a working-mother can also give one a whole new level of efficiency, creativity, and prioritization. For her, having the right perspective is what makes the biggest difference. “When you have multiple balls in the air, you have to realize which ones are rubber and will bounce if dropped and which ones are glass and will break.” she shares.

The Evolving Present & Exciting Future

In 2021, two years after Avestria was founded, two of its portfolio companies were acquired: Alydia Health was acquired by Organon for up to $240 million, and Uqora was acquired by Pharmavite for an undisclosed amount. Through these acquisitions – among several notable ones in the women’s health industry over the past few years – the team at Avestria Ventures is optimistic about the strategic interest in women’s health startups, especially from big names in the industry. Put another way, these acquisitions are a positive sign that established companies in the healthcare space are recognizing women’s health as a valuable market opportunity and may be looking to support more and more startups in this space.

The public attention that women’s health and wellness is receiving is also gaining momentum. One specific example that Linda gives is from the federal government: “The federal government announced a Maternal Health Day of Action starting in 2021 to acknowledge the need for improvement in this area and, in the process, demonstrate that interest in women’s health is growing at the federal level as well as the strategic ones.”

Avestria has several portfolio companies that are focused on improving maternal health; some of the firm’s other investments are working on improving mental health, offering menopause-related care, and creating convenient and accurate at-home testing solutions.

Avestria will soon be fundraising for Fund II. The team is hoping that the capital from that raise will allow them to invest in even more deserving companies than they were able to support in Fund I, which closed in June 2021 after the acquisition of Alydia Health.

In the forthcoming years, Linda Greub wants to expand Avestria’s footprint and its portfolio of impactful companies. “We have several exciting developments in our current Fund I portfolio companies and are, overall, excited about the increased awareness of investment as well as support of women’s health,” she concludes.

Visit Avestria Ventures’ Website 

Contact Linda Greub on LinkedIn.

Visit Twitter Account

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