Featured Investors
May 2, 2023

Featured Investors | May 2023 - Abigail Risse of Hyperplane and Ken Lau of Red Sea Ventures

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Abigail Risse, Analyst at Hyperplane

Abigail Risse is on the investment team at Hyperplane, an early-stage venture capital fund in Boston, investing in companies automating technically-rigorous enterprise problems since 2015. Abigail studied mechanical engineering and focused primarily on medical devices, specifically on pediatric prosthetic and orthopedic robotics. Abigail started her career as an engineer at iRobot iterating on the designs of new renditions of robotic home products. At Hyperplane, Abigail focuses on industries of healthcare and logistics, but enjoys evaluating early-stage companies across various industries' supply chains. Outside of Hyperplane, Abigail is a spin instructor for the Equinox Boston studios and has a German Shepherd named Stella who she found on Craigslist and surprised her parents with one college break.

EVCA: Describe a defining moment in your career and how it shaped where you are today.

Abigail: The moments I would qualify as being defining in my career are always the unexpected ones. They are the times that someone took a chance on me because they saw potential that my resume didn't show, or they are the result of some serendipitous "yes" that captured the unassuming yet incredible value. The team at Hyperplane hired me a year and a half ago knowing I was without a coined pedigree, yet they saw something that others didn't. The opportunities that have been given to me in the absence of proven track record have shaped where I am today.

EVCA: What is an emerging technology trend that will have a significant impact on the world in the next decade?

Abigail: AI seems like the obvious answer here, but I'll make it a little more interesting as it relates to a specific industry. I'm really excited about AI's potential in the application of precision medicine. It's an emerging technology trend that has the potential to reshape the US healthcare system in the next ten years and make healthcare more accessible and affordable. With the pending advances in genomics and bioinformatics thanks to AI, precision medicine is becoming more accurate and accessible and the thought of enabling that via our work with founders is super exciting. Fewer side effects, improved disease screening, higher efficacy rates, and more advanced prevention approaches could all be a direct result of this wave.

Ken Lau, Investor at Red Sea Ventures

Ken Lau is an investor at Red Sea Ventures, where he helps lead seed stage investments in next-gen experiences for the consumer and worker. He is particularly interested in companies that transform the consumer experience, especially in their daily lives and within healthcare. Ken began his career as an M&A investment banker at both J.P. Morgan and Nomura, where he covered Technology, Healthcare, and Consumer/Retail in San Francisco. Ken graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Finance & Accounting. When he's off the clock, Ken fills his time with searching for the best value restaurants, leaving NYC to go hiking/snowboarding, or bopping around at concert venues in the city..

EVCA: Describe a defining moment in your career and how it shaped where you are today.

Ken: Growing up, I was surrounded by parents who were incredibly focused and passionate about their work, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was possible in their respective fields. My dad's role as Chief Scientist at his company, involved with the research arm of the military, meant that I was exposed to the newest innovations in the world of technology from an early age, such as infrared beams, drones, and AI. Meanwhile, my mom's decision to become a Doctor in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, after already establishing herself as an electrical engineer, showed me the importance of finding and pursuing one's passion. I was fundamentally raised to continuously challenge myself and find a career that was perpetually dynamic.

It was when I saw friends in my inner circle leaving their corporate jobs to build new companies from the ground up that I realized what I truly wanted to do. This was my defining moment. I was enamored by the sheer amount of conviction and work needed to bring a company from 0 to 1, and I knew that I needed to be a part of this world. This realization led me to my current role, where I have the opportunity to learn, develop, and work alongside founders to shape and disrupt their respective industries.

EVCA: What is an emerging technology trend that will have a significant impact on the world in the next decade?

Ken: Is it just me, or does it finally feel like we're reaching an inflection point for innovation within the healthcare industry? With the U.S. spending close to 20% of its GDP on healthcare consumption, it's high time the industry receives the attention it deserves. While the change in regulatory landscape may have been a factor, the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also played a significant role in triggering founders to innovate in this antiquated industry. AI has already shown great promise within the healthcare industry, and I'm excited for its potential to vastly improve the patient experience through personalization, optimization, and predictive analytics. The access to proprietary datasets will become the primary moat to train models and increase speed-to-market, along with the incorporation of a regulatory mindset. The potential for AI tools in healthcare is immense, but we still need to be careful in addressing valid concerns around bias, inaccuracies, and liability. However, while we need to be cautious with implementation, the potential benefits are too great to ignore, and I believe that we are on the cusp of a healthcare revolution.