Three-and-a-half years ago, Project Adirondack started as a spark at the 2016 Health Evolution Summit in a conversation between Maureen O’Connor and Rob Coppedge.
O’Connor, President of Whiterabbit.ai and formerly an executive with Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, and Coppedge, CEO of Echo Health Ventures, an investment firm, started talking on the Adirondack chairs at Laguna Niguel, California. O’Connor thought it would be great to take what BCBS North Carolina was doing with its venture arm called Mosaic Health Solutions and combine it with the work Coppedge was doing as the President of Cambia Health Solutions’ diversified business unit (Direct Health Solutions).
“He actually started in this corporate venture pursuit probably two or three years before,” O’Connor recalled in a video at last year’s Health Evolution Summit. She says she would call him for advice. In 2016, the two talked about a formal partnership.
From those conversations came the creation of Echo Health Ventures, which continues as a joint operation between Cambia and Mosaic. Echo works closely with the parent companies to accelerate the growth of its portfolio companies and bring their innovations to scale nationally.
“We were able to really take a step towards redefining the corporate venture model,” says Coppedge. “For our two organizations, it was about as audacious as we could have gotten with that project.”
To Coppedge, the transformative deal is an example of the power of relationships. The relationship that he and O’Connor had formed over the years allowed the deal to move quickly.
“Transformative deals are based upon relationships, and the deeper those relationships run, the faster you can move with these big ideas. If Maureen and I had not invested time together in multiple ways between them, there’s no way we could have taken this idea that started here, and taken it to where [it went] in only three or four months afterwards,” he says.
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