John Steuart is a California-based venture capitalist and entrepreneur. His early career reflects that he mainly invested in healthcare and technology companies. He is a leader that is innovative, intuitive, creative, and very supportive to his team. With his experience as an investor and operations manager, he provides realistic goals that create competitive income. He drives positive results to the team he manages.
His very first medical contribution happened in 1990 when he and Terry R. Knapp invented the living tissue implant with an electrical marker for both reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries. John and Terry were successful in developing an implant with a passive transponder that came with a handy electromagnetic scanner. In a short and low-cost process, the gadget tagged and analyzed the implant. In line with the Safe Medical Device Act of 1990, this technical advancement allowed medical practitioners to track gadgets implanted in humans to assure their safety.
In 2004, John Steuart co-founded Claremont Creek Ventures where he sat as the managing director. Under CVV he sat on the board of AssureRX and Natera.
AssureRX is a pharmacogenetics company that aids medical doctors in determining which drug to administer to patients with neuropsychiatric illnesses. The GeneSightRx, their very first product, was a significant development in the field of customized medicine. Doctors have been able to identify the best appropriate medicine for each of their patients because of this device.
Furthermore, Natera is a diagnostics-focused clinical genetic company located in Austin, Texas. It specializes in non-invasive, cell-free DNA testing technology. The company offers genetic testing before conception and during pregnancy. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, aneuploidy screening, translocation, and single-gene testing are all available in Natera. John directed the company to fulfill its mission to alter the way diseases were managed throughout the world, with an emphasis on women’s health, cancer, and organ health.
At present, John Steuart is still part of Savvy properties. In addition, he is the executive chairman of County Sports Zone and SchoolDuels, which are online sports communities for high school students.
How did you come up with idea of venture capital?
I am into technology and healthcare. I started without any business ties or wealth. I started from scratch. My partners and I examined the process, conducted research, and put them into action. Strategy is key. Our experiences taught us to do business in a more efficient and timely manner. That’s what we offered to start-ups. There are many talented people, but their resources are limited. But of course, we don’t just invest in any company. We invest in businesses that we believe will be successful although the concept of success might be vague in the beginning.
What are some of your most significant accomplishments?
With my almost three decades of experience in healthcare and technology as well as in the real estate, I could say that I have helped a lot of industries and companies, especially the start-ups, become successful in their venture. To name some, my service as the managing director of Prolog Ventures in St. Louis and Berkeley led to the success of Prolog Capital Fund IV. I established a strategic contract with Sigma Aldrich that resulted in an increase in investment by over 20%. Under my leadership, Cybergold (CGLD) and Mypoints merged, where I sold multi-million-dollar integrated Mileage Plus and Mypoints programs to UAL’s partners. Not only that, I also handled the joint ventures of Mypoints Japan and Mypoints Europe, with growth records each year. I also founded Savvy Properties that offers affordable student accommodation with my partner Michael Kraszulyak. I am proud of my accomplishments as I see how they benefit a lot of companies and people.
How did you grow your business?
Nothing is constant in the entrepreneurship field. Aside from strategic planning, I believe that tenacity and passion are important traits of all successful people as well. It’s not always a sunny day, but we have to learn to make hay while the sun shines. If you want to stand out, you must be intuitive. Know your alternatives— you should always be ready. Know when to take a step forward and when to take a step back. When faced with adversity, think beyond the box, and when opportunities arise, seize them.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Well, achieving a goal is one thing, but actually seeing the results and the effects of that goal is everything. I do things not only for myself, I do what I do to help people and companies achieve what I already have, or better exceed what I have. It is always thinking and planning of “what’s next?” and executing it with the right people, in the right time, with a good intention.
“Venture model is broken.” What do you think about this?
It varies incongruously. Venture is a very big marketplace. When you have the right plan, the strategies, everything will follow. For example, you can make five to 10 times your money on sub-$100 million acquisitions. There are lots of acquisitions in the $50 million to $100 million space. This for sure will continuously evolve and progress in the future.
What do you think entrepreneurs need?
Well, some would say money. Although that’s correct and of course a given, I would add help from experienced and driven people in the business. I and my team are usually heavily operationally involved with the companies that we’re helping. Before, I go to trade shows with them, on their first meetings and leasing. I offer a continuous assistance to help them think through the strategy.
What’s one greatest challenge you’ve experienced, and how did you overcome it?
We had a project in St. Louis. We wanted to build a product called portal imager. We built this plastic optic device that was pulled and the magic was in the fiber optics hooked up with a camera. We sold a couple and thought it was salable. We wanted to fast track everything so we can start selling them. Little did we know that these companies that bought our product were places like hospitals that do researches. They were looking for new toys to generate new research results and write a paper and publish it. The company went down until I had to file for bankruptcy. This was way back 1991-1993. From there, I realized that knowing your market is paramount. You don’t just create and sell stuff, you need to know who buys it and what they actually do about it.
What questions should aspiring entrepreneurs find the answer to before starting out?
You need to know how unique your business is, what the competing solutions are, how important is the question, and how “sticky” is the solution. Sticky means once your market tries your solution, they will never go back to the old ways.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There will be times that you’ll feel useless, stupid, and that your efforts are trash. I want to tell him that that’s normal. Learning from the process, from your own process and journey, is way rewarding than learning from the superficial success of others. Continue what you love, and the universe will align for you. You’ll help a lot of people, so start helping yourself first.