Episode 71

A Blueprint for Startups

with Eric Langshur
Episode hosted by: Rick LeMoine

May 30, 2023

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Eric Langshur
Founder & Managing Partner, Abundant Venture Partners

Eric Langshur is the founder and Managing Partner of Abundant Venture Partners, a purpose-based incubator focused on improving the human condition by creating companies that improve Human Wellness, Human Performance and Human Engagement. Eric is also the founder and Executive Chairman of AVIA, the nation’s leading healthcare innovation network.



Generative A.I. is such a big deal. The implications of it are enormous in every corner of our lives and society.



Rick LeMoine: Welcome to day zero. Backed by popular demand is Eric Langshur. From Abundant Ventures Eric needs no introduction at this point. Of all the interviews I’ve done, Eric none have connected with people the way that yours did, and therefore I’m not surprised that there have been many people. Send me a note and say, if you ever get the chance to see him again, could you ask him about, And the number one thing was with your experience. Do you have a blueprint or something like that in terms of starting a business or how you assess whether or not an idea should progress up the venture ladder.

Eric Langshur: We actually do, first of all, actually, Rick is great. To be with you again. So thank you for for inviting me back. We actually do have a blueprint. We call it our abundant playbook, and it’s it’s both precise and leaves room for variation and adaptation depending on the business, the opportunity, the circumstances, the time, the talent, all of the both.

Rick LeMoine: What would be some of the highlights or must dos in that playbook?

Eric Langshur: Maybe the best the best way I can answer that is, is to describe the process in, its, in its entirety and that we can drill down into the different components as you see fit, but it always begins with ideation. And we have a process within ideation to, go about that in, in somewhat of a systematic way. And then if we promote an idea beyond valida ideation, we go into the validation stage and then, go deeper and continue to to click in. And then if we if an idea graduates from validation where we go into full fledged creation mode, and then from there into launch and scale there’s different stage gates that we build in and we talk about failing fast and which is something that of course, everyone talks about. And it’s a great thing to, to be able to do and it’s hard to do. I, that’s just we get attached to these ideas. They become like children and you wanna see them succeed. And it’s really hard to, it’s hard to walk away.

Rick LeMoine: Your track record, you have succeeded so many times. You must have discovered some danger points or no-fly zones, any of those you could share.

Eric Langshur: Yeah, there’s both the sort of the positive and the negative that the negatives you wanna avoid and the things that you learn. Our must dos and I’ll start there. It’s it’s so much of this as a talent game. And so of course in starting with the right people and bringing the right human d n a to, whatever the task is, and, we all get that, but, despite the fact that we understand it, sometimes that’s hard to do. And we make mistakes starting with a big idea. And you know the right idea. Then validating and being flexible and being willing to listen, really listen to the market and take market feedback and what that means is following, really following the money and saying, is there somebody on the other side of this conversation who has a real problem and is willing to, pull out their checkbook and pay you for. For help and for helping solve a problem. And even that isn’t always enough because there’s, there is a distinction between creating a product, which is interesting in creating a business, a company, which is interesting. So there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of science to that and a lot of art. And then on the negative side things to, to watch for that we look for. Is, we really try to be critical in, in answering the question, do we have a source of unfair advantage here? Or, special advantage where we can we have, a right to succeed that, that there’s a reason to believe that we’ll be successful. Can we, can we design the experiment upfront so that the, the downstream activities are. Fall into place with less with less effort. And that’s sort of code for can we retire risk? And then that leads to the whole, set of values that we try to build into, into these, these opportunities, these enterprises, these ideas businesses. Is it Is it an idea that’s gonna make the world better? Is it an idea that’s gonna invite people and really compel people to collaborate, to get involved? Is it an idea that we can be anchored in, one of our core values of abundance?

Rick LeMoine: There’s clearly a lot there to unpack and for those of us who are new to the concept of due diligence what. I’ve seen at abundant and at full disclosure, sharp Healthcare is a member of the Abundant Alliance. But you guys really do take it to the next level. Very impressive.

Eric Langshur: Thank you. Thank you, Rick. And one of the, one of the drivers for us is we we have historically been investing and paying for this work with our own money. So we take, we take a decidedly, I’ll call it a Billy Bean approach to it. And we just wanna hit singles and move people around the bases. And, we’re not, we’re not playing the game of, giant venture and making, multi-billion dollar bets.

Rick LeMoine: The other area that I got so much feedback on was in relation to your I think it’s your l latest book and the description you had of what I often refer to as mindfulness. And that, and folks asked me, where does he get the time to write what’s his technique? And certainly it seemed that you really have a knack for putting words down on paper, which a lot of us unfortunately don’t. So how did you become an author And I noticed I’m embarrassed to say a few days ago. When I went to Amazon and looked up your book again, there’s a whole list of of books by you. Let’s hear from Eric, the author for a few minutes.

Eric Langshur: It’s not that big a library, Rick. Listen, it starts with the fact that I love to write and I find it a creative process and it’s just pure joy for me. If and we all know the truism that if we’re doing something that we’re passionate about, then it doesn’t feel like work. And it’s actually, it’s. It’s energizing, it’s enriching, so that makes it an easy activity to make time for. But I remember reading a book years ago about how to write a book. So I was in treatment, so I reached out to the author and took the author out for breakfast, which turned into a whole morning. And, like a lot of self-help books, it distilled, the idea and it’s just distilled to one, one really big useful idea that laed with me, which was, if you want to write a book, you need to organize yourself. The way you organize yourself when you’re trying to do anything that’s important to you. And so for me, what that translates to is get up early, carve out time, dedicate time before, before you quote unquote start the, the rest of the activity in your day. So with start here, for example I would drop my kids off at school. I’d get up early and I would research. Read and research, and then I’d, go through the morning routine cuz the kids were younger and drop ’em off at school. And then I would go to a cafe near their school and literally just spend, 90 minutes and write and think. And and I did that for years while while writing the book.

Rick LeMoine: And Detroit. On paper or a laptop.

Eric Langshur: Laptop. Yeah. With my really terrible hunting and pecking typing. It’s just, it’s crazy that I haven’t learned to type,

Rick LeMoine: Not neither have I, and I regret it every day of my life.

Eric Langshur: didn’t have typing in school, which is just nutty. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s not an excuse, Rick, we could have learned to type.

Rick LeMoine: Maybe you could. I don’t think I can. I’ve tried it several times and doesn’t work. Eric, what about the new economy and how that is going to affect or is affecting the venture process today?

Eric Langshur: Oh, I love that question, Rick. I’ve been thinking so much about generative AI as a, for example, talk about new economy. For me, we are living through a moment in time where, the printing press was invented and this is like electricity. It’s such a big deal and the implications of it are just enormous and I think in every corner of our lives in society. So as it relates to our work, In the company creation process and the venture investing process I’m really excited about. There’s the family of enterprises that are launched in this now moment and the potential impact they’re gonna have that has these, that are native to, to these technologies. And, I wonder whether the companies, that were started. That are two or three years old in, in yesterday’s vintage, whether they’re gonna be at a disadvantage. What a moment.

Rick LeMoine: I agree completely. What concerns do you have?

Eric Langshur: Yeah. For one, I think there’s no stopping it. I admire the Sba, the, the group that has called for a six month moratorium. I don’t think that’s a even, a possibility. This is a global game and no one’s gonna stop. Two, and Harari has a really interesting take on this. The Harari who wrote Sapiens and

Rick LeMoine: Homo Davis.

Eric Langshur: homos, right? We talked about homos once, Rick. Yeah, exactly. He He just published a piece in The Economist, which is amazing, and he has a a lens, just as one could argue that social media hacked democracy in the last few elections. So too is his perspective that generative AI is going to hack democracy, but at a much faster pace because of its power and its potential to create intimacy. One-on-one connections at absolute scale, so it can impersonate a human being and create an incredible, intimate relationship and the power of that relationship to the potential of that relationship to influence, people’s thinking and decisions. It’s just, it’s mind boggling. Where does this go? I don’t know. Does it end well? Or is this is this the beginning of the dystopian future? I sure hope not, but it’s not a, it’s not,

Rick LeMoine: This was made for that saying the genie owed to the bottle and what these guys were thinking of that they could stuff it back in. No, sir. Reba

Eric Langshur: no. The genie’s outta the bottle. Yeah. Skynet.

Rick LeMoine: Eric, any particular concerns about the notion. That ai as one of my friends at Nuance says, make stuff up.

Eric Langshur: Yeah. Harvard Business Review used. I think the term that chat, GPT bullshits I prefer the term it hallucinates and. In fact, just before this meeting I came from for this call, I came from a board meeting where the CEO asked GPT to write, to rewrite the mission statement for the firm. And it was it was fantastic. It was really good. It was really good. And it omitted the concept of of health equity. Which was interesting. And so you think about what is training, what’s the, this large language learning model is being trained on a dataset. And in the case of GPT only goes up to, December 31st, I think, is it 21? Wasn’t or maybe even today. It’s not front center enough. For GPT to, to be trained on it, which is really it. But yes, it it hallucinates and now that is gonna get better and better. And I think we’re gonna be able to train it to train it to really be customized and tailored to the person or the situation or the environment. I think in a really compelling way.

Rick LeMoine: I’m worried about the fact that it is going to be able to create music for us, probably better than we’ve been able to do ourselves. And, what happens there? Do we stop going to concerts and, start just downloading stuff? I hope not.

Eric Langshur: Music movies. Did you see the AI generated version of Top Chef with Marvel superhero characters?

Rick LeMoine: No.

Eric Langshur: Google. It’s just in, it’s incredible. The creative class, the creative function. There’s just swaths of society that are gonna change. Actually, this is interesting too. So in the new economy, and this dates back to. The, Elizabethan era, the England and the mid 15 hundreds 16th century with the invention of the stocking frame knitting machine. Is the origin of the Luddites and who were like, oh my God, we can’t have this innovation, this automated machine is gonna replace our job. So of course, the Luddites were against technology, the technology that represented job replacement. And so they went around destroying the machines and it required bringing in the troops and, and all that in suit. But what’s so interesting, Is when we look at the historical record, we know that society reorganizes around these new innovations in a way that’s just massively productive and leads to, economic expansion, job growth, and all sorts of value creation. So notwithstanding the, the potential unintended consequences of the tech and the the dangerous narrative. It’s just really cool what might come of this.

Rick LeMoine: And. Are you in abundance seeing new proposals come forward? As a C M I O with a medium size health provider, I get emails every day now about a new quotes ai. Some of it is not really ai, but I suspect a lot of it is and And you must be close to experiencing the same kind of stuff.

Eric Langshur: Oh, we are, and we may be part of the problem, Rick, because I think we’re also organizing we have a network now of, some, giant number of health systems, the most sophisticated thinkers in the country. And we, we have a mandate to help them, through Avia to help them. Understand how do we practically use these technologies and service of transforming our enterprises? And to ignore this is just a folly. We’re

Rick LeMoine: it at your own peril. Yeah.

Eric Langshur: So we as a trusted partner are compiling a lot of knowledge here, starting with how, what can you, what can one practically do today? To, to leverage this technology in a safe and productive way to meet our business needs, which, for better or for worse are largely, our problems on the healthcare delivery side, as are labor related. We have, we don’t have the labor on the one side and really as an industry, we haven’t substituted capital for labor anywhere near. The the amount that we need to, we’re stuck in between 57 or 60% of our total cost structure has, as manpower.

Rick LeMoine: Eric. Any closing remarks? I’m very appreciative of taking your time again today. It’s been a treat and I just wonder if you have any closing comments?

Eric Langshur: Now Rick, I always enjoy chatting with you and from one Canadian to another,

Rick LeMoine: We’ll keep that a secret.

Eric Langshur: it’s the club.

Rick LeMoine: Yeah.

Eric Langshur: Yeah.

Rick LeMoine: Eric, thank you.

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