Deepa Prasad of WestRiver Group

GP Rising Star Winner and Managing Director of WestRiver Group

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We are pleased to introduce you to Deepa Prasad, managing director of WestRiver Group.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I was born in Bangalore, India and came to the San Francisco/Bay Area when I was 2 years old. I’ve been passionate about all areas of healthcare spanning over 25 years from studying bio and working in labs in college, to pursuing a career in investment banking focusing on biotech private placements and M&A, biotech startups, healthcare legislation, payor/provider operations and now as a venture capitalist investing in healthcare innovation. I’m married to a wonderful physician with 2 young daughters, with aspirations of inspiring our girls to make a difference in the world.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Advancing healthcare to provide treatment to patients. Healthcare is at a critical inflection point with breakthroughs across genetic medicine, digital health, and artificial intelligence and machine learning, moving the needle in curing disease and allowing for future prevention. The ability to invest in healthcare innovation and support amazing CEOs undertaking these incredible missions makes my life fulfilling.

What do you love most about working at WestRiver Group?

The chance to prove WestRiver Group’s thesis: diverse investors are correlated with better returns. My favorite moment was when I thanked Erik, Founder and CEO of WestRiver Group for the opportunity to be a General Partner and he responded with “We are in business to make money for our investors and with your skills, I believe you will make us money.” It felt gratifying to prove our thesis by having my first 2 investments yield step-ups within 1 year via IPO and unicorn status, respectively.

If you weren’t in the PE/VC industry, what would you be doing?

Practicing medicine as a pediatric oncologist. I was pre-med in college and was accepted into medical school but chose to pursue the business side of healthcare instead for its global scalability. Fast forward decades later, I have witnessed game-changing therapies and physician care across all specialties. Pediatric oncologists exhibit a strength, relentlessness, compassion for children and patience with parents that puts them on a different level of human beings, in my humble opinion.

Who has had the most impact on you throughout your career and why?

My father. He lost his father when he was 14 years old, was the fourth of five children living a simple life in India. His father’s last words to him were “study hard and make something of yourself” and so he did. He came to America knowing no one and on a full scholarship for a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He built a beautiful life here for our family and instilled his work ethic and risk-taking in me at a young age.

What’s the most surprising thing people don’t know about you?

I starred in 2 Indian movies. When I was 20 years old and a junior in college, I was asked to do a screentest with a popular film director. To my surprise, I was selected to be the lead actress. The movie ran for 25 weeks in theatres and won me the Favorite Actress award. The best part of the experience is still being recognized in India 20+ years later and receiving sweet messages from fans even today, puts a big smile on my face every single time.

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