The top 25: Rob Coppedge, CEO, Echo Health Ventures

Rob Coppedge manages Echo Health Ventures as chief executive, after the corporate venture capital (CVC) division was formed in November 2016 as a result of the merger between health services provider Cambia Health and Mosaic Health Solutions, the CVC arm of health insurance provider Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCNC).

Cambia Health Solutions CEO Mark Ganz said of Echo Health Ventures: “Echo is the vehicle in which we find companies. We give them much more than funding. We give them ways in which their product or service can be even more effective and gain traction more quickly. Their innovation can become part of our larger platform for innovation in healthcare.”

Cambia hired Coppedge in 2010 to conduct CVC deals, where he helped invest in nearly 20 companies. He co-founded the Cambia Grove, an innovation hub focused on catalysing and supporting the Pacific Northwest’s emerging healthcare economic cluster, five years later.

Coppedge now leads the Echo team to identify emerging technologies that are of strategic importance to the parent firms’ healthcare and insurance businesses. He works with senior leadership teams of both Cambia and BCNC to create collaboration opportunities.

Having celebrated its third anniversary in 2019, Echo experienced numerous highlights. “In the first half of 2019, Echo invested in five new companies, with solutions ranging from coordinated care management, to population health, to precision health and tele-genomics,” said Coppedge, referring to Strive Health, Aledade, Cityblock Health, Dispatch Health and Genome Medical.

“In December, we announced two new investments, Eleanor Health and Quartet Health, each completed in the second half of 2019. Each of these companies is focused on improving access to, and the quality of, behavioural healthcare for those in need,” he continued.

“In addition to the new companies who joined our portfolio in 2019, Echo or its managed portfolios also participated in important follow-on investments in portfolio companies that continue to inspire and outperform. These investments included Abacus Insights, GNS Healthcare, Upfront Healthcare, Springbuk, FastMed, Life Image, CareMerge and Octave Bioscience.

“We have also been pleased to see a deepening of strategic relationships between our portfolio companies and both of our parent companies.”

Besides investments, Echo also celebrated successful financial returns in the past year. “The 2019 exit generated total cash proceeds of $12.4m, in addition to $3.7m of dividends previously received, with more possible via earnout potential, versus original invested capital of $10.2m,” Coppedge said.

“Also, as of March 2020, Echo has fully exited Livongo following its 2019 IPO, generating proceeds of $13.4m versus $4m of original invested capital. The cash-out recapitalisation by one of Echo’s managed investments yielded a total transaction value of $95m to Echo, including $45.3m in cash proceeds, versus original aggregate invested capital of $33.5m.”

Corporate investors have many intrinsic advantages including unique market and subject matter expertise, freedom from the traditional 10-year fund model and the ability to bring high-impact strategic value at critical times in the early stages of a company’s development, argued Coppedge.

“One of Echo’s key success factors has been strong executive leadership support from each of its parent entities. Echo’s investment committee comprises both CEOs and CFOs from Cambia and BCNC,” he noted.

“Additionally, our board is made up of board members from both Cambia’s and BCNC’s board of directors. Echo’s success is largely dependent on having the buy-in and support from top-level leadership at each parent, which ultimately helps drive partnerships and successes across all levels of each entity.”

The balance of strategic and financial goals is crucial, Coppedge explained: “At Echo, we draw bold lines between our strategic investment program and any procurement or corporate development effort. Our goal is investing to build and grow tomorrow’s great companies that are built for long-term sustainability, not for quick flips.”

Before founding Echo, Coppedge oversaw Cambia’s operating companies including cost and quality transparency market leader HealthSparq and ancillary benefits provider LifeMap, as well as its venture and private equity investing activities.

Prior to Cambia, Coppedge was the founding partner of Faultline Ventures, where he worked with numerous early-stage companies and strategic investors. Previously, he was a partner at healthcare IT-focused VC firm Capitol Health Partners.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF