Meet Hikma Ventures, an investor in digital health startups

This interview is conducted by Burak Buyukdemir, the Founder and CEO of Etohum, a Turkish accelerator program.

Lana Ghanem is from Jordan. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelors of Commerce from McGill University. She is the Managing Director of Hikma Ventures which she helped establish in 2015. Prior to that, she started her career in Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC in 2012 as the Assistant to the CEO and Director of Corporate & Development and is currently leading the Innovation and Leadership Advisory Board (ILAB).

Hikma Ventures (HV) is the corporate venture capital arm of Hikma Pharmaceuticals. Their main focus is to invest in global digital health companies that could enhance Hikma’s value, reputation, and market intelligence. They are also interested in investing in other healthcare-related companies that are of interest to Hikma’s future strategies including Drug Delivery Technologies. Their ticket size can go up to $5 million per company per round, and they have so far invested in 8 companies as a whole including Propeller Health which was sold to ResMed in December 2018.

The Hikma Ventures’ team believes that Digital Health is becoming more of a necessity than a nice-to-have, that is the main reason why the venture arm was established. They are planting seeds in companies that could help differentiate Hikma Pharmaceuticals both in the MENA region, where Hikma is already a pioneer and globally.

Hikma Ventures invests between $100K to $5 million per company per round. They have invested in seed stage companies as well as companies in the Series A,B and C stage.

Their deal flow often comes from health startup accelerators with whom Hikma Ventures has established good relationships over the years in addition to co-investors. Sometimes they stumble upon opportunities in articles they read and then reach out to the companies.

In terms of process, once they find an interesting company they want to engage with, they schedule a meeting with the company’s lead investors and board members. These meetings or calls are usually scheduled within ten days, and if there is further interest, they ask for access to the data room to do proper diligence on the company. If the startup already has a term sheet and lead investor for the round, then the Hikma Ventures’ team can expedite the process and pitch it to their investment committee within five to six weeks.

Like any other venture capital firm, Hikma Ventures takes into consideration numerous factors before deciding whether to invest in a startup or not. Lana stated that when you are a VC, you invest in the team and the people. That is why chemistry with the team and founders is absolutely crucial when it comes to selecting startups. The team might have a great experience and a strong business plan, however, if the founders/team are arrogant, not receptive to feedback, and if there is no chemistry between them and Hikma Ventures’ team, then HV won’t pursue the opportunity.

There were a number of good startups that Hikma Ventures ended up not investing in because they were early stage even though they were highly qualified and the team was rooting for them or there wasn’t a strategic fit with Hikma Pharmaceuticals business model.

We asked Lana what piece of advice she can provide to startups who are looking for investment. She mentioned that the most important thing is for the team/founders to do their homework prior to the meeting/call by finding out what the funds’ focus is. The more they know about the funds and how their business model fits into the funds’ strategy, the more likely they will get a positive response.

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