When Annie Lamont started her career as a venture capitalist, she was interested in making investments in tech companies.

But at the time in the 1980s, most of the companies were focused on hardware, which interested her less than software. Instead, she was drawn to the world of biotech and medicine, and decided to make healthcare her primary focus.

“In any industry, particularly in venture, have your lane. Have something you know better than anybody else,” Lamont, now the cofounder and managing partner of Oak HC/FT said. “You’ve gotta pick your spot. So I picked my spot, and that was going to be healthcare.”

She started by investing in neuroscience biotechs like Cephalon (later acquired by Teva), and Alkermes. Over the next decade, Oak went on to invest in about 15-20 biotech companies. By 1998, though, there were thousands of public biotech companies, but only a few had gotten their drugs approved.

“You could just see the disenchantment coming,” Lamont said. “You want tailwinds when investing in any industry. I felt like it was going to be headwinds not tailwinds, because the biotech industry had disappointed.”

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Seeing those headwinds, in the 1990s, Lamont shifted her attention over to other parts of the healthcare industry, backing companies developing health plans for Medicaid, running hospices, and in behavioral health companies.

“I just felt like I needed I wanted to understand the system better and I felt like I didn’t want to be completely dependent on the biotech industry for my investing,” Lamont said.

Since then, she’s moved her focus to other areas, like health IT in the early 2000s, and, following the changes that came from the Affordable Care Act, insurance startups like Devoted Health and new primary care models like One Medical.

“You have to be re-potting yourself in the venture world,” Lamont said. “Otherwise like any other industry, you’ll become stale. You won’t have the tailwinds you need to be a successful VC.”

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