medical diagnostics

Investor Corner: Diamond in the Desert with Mara Aspinall, Bluestone Ventures Managing Director

Did you know that there is more than $100 million worth of capital available to Arizona entrepreneurs right now? Were you aware that Tucson ranks as one of the Top 5 Cities for entrepreneurs, according to Entrepreneur magazine, but it has been a long, hard road. I find it incredible that within the last few years, Tucson has gone from only one or two venture capital firms to over five.

One of those firms is BlueStone Venture Partners where managing partner Mara Aspinall and team are utilizing their “Noses in, fingers out” approach to invest in regional digital health, medical devices and medical diagnostics startups. Their Fund primarily focuses on companies that reside within five key verticals including: Medical Devices, Advanced Materials, Healthcare IT, Diagnostics, and Biopharma Platforms.

As an entrepreneur, I really appreciate Mara’s hyper-focus on startup teams over technology. To create an A-Team you must:

Know your strengths and most importantly your weaknesses. If you can’t articulate these, how will you be able to build a team that has strengths to counter-balance your weaknesses?

Find the right team: these should be people you trust, and that can consistently be intellectually honest with you. These team members should also be highly adept at navigating ambiguity as it’s likely to be all your startup will be facing for the first few years.

After building your A-Team, go “do your homework”. Your goal should be to understand your situation and potential future scenarios enough to anticipate what’s coming. This will help you and the team mitigate the foreseeable errors, and hopefully not worry about the ones you could not have known. Most importantly, get moving and keep moving.

About Mara

Aspinall is a healthcare industry leader and pioneer committed to active civic involvement. She is Managing Director and Co-Founder of BlueStone Venture Partners, a venture fund investing in life sciences technology companies in the US Southwest. She is also Managing Director of the Health Catalysts Group, a consulting firm dedicated to the growth of health information technology and diagnostics firms, publishing the popular Health Catalysts Diagnostics Year in Review. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Abcam plc (ABC), Allscripts (MDRX), Castle Biosciences (CSTL), Orasure (OSUR), and Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona. Most recently, Aspinall was certified in Cybersecurity Oversight from Carnegie Mellon University.

As President and CEO of Ventana Medical Systems, a billion-dollar division of The Roche Group, (now Roche Tissue Diagnostics) Aspinall led her world-class team to new financial success, more than two dozen major instrument and assay launches as well as global leadership in companion diagnostics.

Previously, Aspinall spent 13 years at Genzyme Corporation where she served as President of Genzyme Genetics and Genzyme Pharmaceuticals. Genzyme Genetics was a leading provider of diagnostic testing and genetic counseling in the oncology and reproductive markets. Aspinall transformed the business from a small specialized player to one of the top five laboratories in the country while setting the industry standard for quality testing. The business was sold to LabCorp for nearly $1billion. Previously, she led Genzyme Pharmaceuticals and its transformation to an international leader in specialized pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing.

Connect with Mara Aspinall here:

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