Jake Prigoff

Jake Prigoff, M.D


Listen on

Apple Podcast

Doctor, Cancer Survivor, Investor

Needs assesment – Jake Prigoff, M.D

“It’s important for CEOs and founders to connect with each other, to understand that there is a network and there is a community of folks that are in similar positions”


Jake Prigoff is a Partner at Gaingels, one of largest and most active private investors dedicated to supporting diversity and inclusion within the venture capital ecosystem. Jake is a physician, survivor, and healthcare investor. After battling Stage 4 Lymphoma, Jake quickly moved toward the healthcare sphere as a speaker, advocate, and physician. He went to medical school at Mount Sinai in New York City and then followed that with training in General Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center. Jake has since left clinical medicine in pursuit of a broader impact on the healthcare system through the healthcare industry.



Jake Prigoff, M.D

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to supporters fund ask an investor I’m your host Jeffery Potvin let’s please welcome Jake Prigoff partner of gangels New York as our investor today welcome Jake it’s a real pleasure having you join us today.
Prigoff: Thanks for having me Jeffery I’m excited to be here.
Jeffery: Awesome I’m super excited to kind of dive into your background because while it’s very unique the background you have when it comes to the types of interviews that we get to have and so I’m excited to kind of pick it apart because I love the fact that you’re an MD and all the great things that you’ve done in your career and being able to go through all of the dissertations and papers and awards it’s pretty impressive but I think the end result for me is the detail and the level of detail you have to have in order to be a doctor but also now moving into the space that you are it’s kind of exciting because you’re bringing a whole different style of how to operate inside of this early stage space so we’re excited to dive in and the way we like to kind of jump into the show is we want you to kind of give us a bit of a background and you can go as far back as your University days but just kind of sharing all the great things that you’ve done to get to where you are today and kind of the the outfit that you’re part of and what you guys are doing and then one thing about you that nobody would know.
Prigoff: Sure um so my background is is really mostly in the healthcare space as you alluded to um I got started in cancer research uh I was doing mostly clinical research and also a lot of advocacy work as well um I’m a cancer survivor and and so naturally the spaces of tremendous importance to me um and so I was working with a couple of different organizations uh the SAS foundation for medical research Memorial Sloan Kettering mostly in philanthropic endeavors um eventually I decided to take the leap to med school so I went to Mount Sinai in New York on the Upper East Side um and then I did my residency at Columbia um where most of my research was still focused within oncology mostly Surgical Oncology but I did quite a bit of Education research as well I took a year away from Clinical medicine to uh to teach at the Columbia College of Physicians and surgeons their their medical school um and so did a bunch of research there as well and I happened upon gangel’s uh The Firm that I’m at now um through a friend of a friend and he brought me to uh a pitch night when this was pre-covered where you know we used to gather in a room together and hear a couple of pitches from a early stage Founders um and decide what companies uh we wanted to invest in um and so that’s how I found gainesville’s and uh during the initial wave of covid this is kind of my transition now a little bit from Clinical medicine to venture during my time while I was teaching at Columbia the initial wave of covet hit and because I was non-clinical then I didn’t have my malpractice insurance active so it was going to take about another month to just figure that out before I can go volunteer in the hospital as a physician and so during that month I was working with my clinical knowledge and the engineers from Colombia as well as Hospital leadership to try to answer a couple of key questions right one what do clinicians need um to what can the engineers build and three what will Hospital leadership support and those three questions at the heart of it are what venture capital is about for me um it’s finding a need figuring out what you can make and and how to build a company um around that and so I got very excited about that and that was you know a couple of years ago and about a year and a half ago I decided to fully transition away from Clinical medicine and I came over to angels to lead the healthcare Investments um and so it probably makes sense for me to just kind of give you a little overview on angels and and Who We Are um we were founded about eight years ago as an LGBT Angel organization and that’s how we existed for about four years um it was LGBT investors investing into LGBT Founders very much at the angel stage and in 2018 um my business partner uh David he he tells the story much better than I do but he was at uh lunch with a friend Colin Walsh who’s the the CEO of a company called varro money um fintech company and they had just raised the large series B and they had a small bit of allocation left and so they asked Angels if we wanted to participate in it and this was pretty atypical for us as an angel group right to to invest into a true venture-led series B um and we did it and people got very excited about it and we realized that there is a need in the Venture ecosystem for diversity equity and inclusion initiatives and people who support um and really drive that mission and so in 2018 we kind of flipped our model a little bit so we kind of operate in two spaces one is to find diverse Founders um and support them because that’s important and the other is to find companies that need help in their diversity journey and to support them as well and give them the resources and the knowledge they need to improve upon their Dei initiatives um because that’s that’s important too so uh you know I think since 2018 we’ve grown pretty significantly 2018 we deployed about 5 million in capital last year we deployed over 400 million in capital um I think it’s a testament to the fact that a the industry really needed something like this they needed people to uh to kind of push this Mission and support this Mission um and and be that that they genuinely are embracing it um and they’re welcoming us and our organization and our investors with open arms um so we’re pretty excited about that and I’ll stop there because otherwise I could just talk for days.
Jeffery: That’s awesome uh no that’s a great story um and thank you for sharing that I do want to kind of Step a little bit back before we go through kind of everything that you’re doing at uh gangel’s and I think again amazing um but to to go back to your the clinical side of things and I think a lot of this clinical stuff kind of prepares you for what you’re doing today and I kind of like to dive into that a little bit and as I was going through some of your papers and the things that you had that written and you kind of do your research on uh maybe you can share a little bit about how that process works that once you go through and become um I guess on the surgeon side you then have to go into clinical so you start doing a lot of papers a lot of research and your papers go all the way down for many different years and you’re part of books um is that part of the whole structure for you to become a surgeon or is this the initiative you took in order to refine your skills on where you wanted to fit in once you had been fully indoctrinated I guess into the medical field.
Prigoff: Yeah it’s a great question um and something that I haven’t thought about in quite some time so I didn’t really go all the way back when I was at the University of Michigan for undergrad I was an economics major and pretty atypical for for medical students but um one of the things that I focused on during that time was labor economics and and education economics and and why people get higher education and what they hope to accomplish with that right and it kind of breaks out into I promise I’m getting to a point here um it breaks out into kind of two different things right one is practical knowledge and practical skills right because we go to school to to get that but the others as a signal um because it’s important for future employers to recognize that this person can make their way through high school or make their way through college or get a you know have a good GPA and so um really we all we all know this right but to break it down at a high level as to why we go to college why people you know get their High School degree a big part of it is to signal to Future employers that you have the capacity to accomplish something and in a way that’s what a lot of academic research is when you’re in medical school when you’re in residency um is yes naturally there is a clinical interest right or scientific interest in the subject matter but you’re also building out your resume and you’re earning you know you’re learning new skills and building out kind of your War chest if you will of of abilities um and so I started my clinical research before medical school and I continued through medical school and certainly when I was applying into residency uh it was a nice feather in my cap to say you know these are some of the things that I’ve accomplished now that’s also putting aside the actual drive to impact the Health Care system which is very Central to who I am as a human being um and the way that we advance medicine is through these research studies um it’s it’s actually an odd kind of juxtaposition to how industry uh grows and and how a lot of startups grow because in Venture right we want the we want companies to have to have the potential for Rapid scalability right we want them to grow relatively quick not too quick right but but you know kind of measured but rapid uh growth um whereas in Academia it’s very different um you want to make sure that you get it right is kind of the key um and so it takes a long time and like you said you have to be very det