Featured Investors
January 4, 2023

Featured Investors | January 2023 - Marissa Moore of OMERS Ventures and Robert Li of Citi Ventures

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Marissa Moore, Investor at OMERS Ventures

Marissa Moore is an Investor with OMERS Ventures. Working out of the Bay Area office, Marissa focuses on early-stage health tech opportunities in North America. Prior to joining OMERS Ventures in early 2022, she was a Managing Analyst on CB Insights’ healthcare intelligence team, where she produced data-driven research on the digital health startup landscape, with special expertise in telehealth and medtech. Before CB Insights, she worked as a public equity research analyst covering industrial machinery and cannabis at Melius Research and in institutional equity sales at Barclays. Marissa was raised outside of Boston, MA and received degrees from Princeton University (Bachelor’s in Molecular Biology) and Johns Hopkins University (MBA in Health Care Management, MS in Biotechnology). She is also a CFA Charterholder.

EVCA: How have the skills you developed in your pre-VC work played into your new role?

Marissa: Before joining OV, I thought I had a really good idea of how my pre-VC work would carry over into the new role. Specifically, I assumed: (1) that some of my prior work experiences would be much more relevant than others (e.g., equity research > equity sales) and (2) that hard skills (e.g., financial analysis, modeling, etc.) would be much more important than soft ones (e.g., adaptability, communication, time management, etc.). But I’ve quickly realized just how wrong I was. Every day, I catch myself drawing upon what I thought were completely irrelevant experiences to get my job done (spoiler: so much of VC is sales). The soft skills come out just as often – if not more often – than the hard ones, but if I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably the soft skills that create more value in the long-run. Over the last 10 years – across personal, professional, and academic experiences – I’ve really learned how to challenge myself, try new things, wear a lot of hats, and adapt and evolve to changing circumstances. And in retrospect, I think that ability to adapt might be the single-most valuable skill I’ve brought from my “pre-VC” life into my current role.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Marissa: Right now, there’s a lot of excitement about hospital-at-home (HaH), a care model that allows patients to receive hospital-grade acute care from the comfort of their home instead of in a hospital setting. Despite the care model’s studied benefits, its implementation has long been hampered by regulatory and reimbursement barriers. Some of those barriers were temporarily lowered during the COVID-19 public health emergency when CMS launched the Acute Hospital Care at Home (AHCAH) initiative. Originally set to expire along with the COVID-19 public health emergency, the AHCAH waivers will now be extended through December 2024, thanks to a provision in the recently signed omnibus bill. The hope is that two more years of data from the program would be compelling enough to inspire more permanent support from CMS (via legislation)… or, at the very least, support another 1-to-2-year extension of the waivers, at which point more permanent action could be taken. As a venture investor, that’s essentially what’d you have to bet if you wanted to make a pure-play investment today. You might also want to see a path for commercial plans to follow. Personally, I’m not there yet. With only ~125 hospitals performing hospital-at-home services today (of the 250+ that obtained AHCAH waivers so far), the bet hinges heavily on net new implementations. But standing up an HaH program is an incredible undertaking for a hospital; it requires a tremendous amount of time, capital, labor, and perhaps most importantly, significant culture change to be successful. As HaH expert Dr. Bruce Leff put it: “HaH is a countercultural care delivery model, a square peg in the round hole of health service delivery whose structures and processes are hard-wired to provide facility-based care.” That kind of investment – without any hint of what will come of HaH in two short years – just may not make sense for hospitals that have yet to take the leap… especially considering all the other challenges they’re facing right now (e.g., deepening financial losses, rising inflationary pressures, workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions, etc.). Just to be clear: I’m hopeful for HaH’s success in the long run. But as an investor looking at early-stage opportunities today, I’m concerned the market won’t grow or develop as rapidly as it would need to to produce venture-scale returns over the course of a venture-typical investment horizon. If/when there’s more clarity on the regulatory and reimbursement front, my view could absolutely change.

Robert Li, Vice President at Citi Ventures

Robert Li is a VP at Citi Ventures, the venture investing arm of Citigroup, where he invests in fintech startups across early and late stage. At Citi Ventures, Robert focuses on startups in the payments and commerce sector. Prior to joining Citi Ventures, he was responsible for early-stage investments in fintech and crypto startups at Lerer Hippeau and at Draper Dragon Fund. Robert received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In his spare time, he enjoys reading great books and cooking dinner for his friends.

EVCA: What is your favorite thing about working in venture capital and why? How about your least favorite thing and why?

Robert: When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them “I get paid to learn.” Being able to speak with world-class founders and operators every day is an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience, one that cannot be found in most other finance jobs.

I find that the long feedback cycle is one of the most difficult aspects of venture capital, particularly at the early stage. Because early-stage startups take many years to come to fruition, validating the quality of a particular deal takes a long time, which poses challenges for young VCs trying to test and improve their investment framework.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Robert: There are many examples in history to demonstrate just how important timing is to the success or failure of a startup. Nonetheless, the role of timing is frequently understated when investors in our industry make investment decisions or assess previous ones. Business ideas that were not possible ten years ago could be viable today (and vice versa), thanks to factors such as technological breakthroughs and changes in consumer behavior, regulatory environment, and venture investment interest.