Tales from the Trenches: Eric Langshur of Abundant Venture Partners
Posted July 7, 2016
By Elizabeth Lynch
MATTER Marketing Intern
Eric Langshur, co-founder of AVIA and Abundant Venture Partners, author of Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing, and serial entrepreneur, spoke with ContextMedia CEO Rishi Shah at MATTER’s popular Tales from the Trenches live interview series. The two friends talked about the importance of a strong company culture, how to maintain your “true north” in the middle of failure, and the art of personal well-being. Watch highlights from their conversation and read our summary below.
Eric Langshur became a serial entrepreneur by accident. The year was 1998, and the soft-spoken Canadian was climbing the corporate ladder at a global aerospace company when his newborn son Matt was first hospitalized with a serious heart condition. Wanting to give far-flung friends and family members real-time updates on his son’s progress, Eric turned to the World Wide Web, still in its infancy, and built CarePages. Word quickly spread about this novel new “social” use of the internet. Soon, strangers around the world were building personal pages for their own loved ones.
Fast forward two years. It’s January, 2000, and Eric and his wife Sharon have quit their day jobs to focus on building CarePages full time. Then suddenly, the dotcom bubble burst, and in the tough economic times that followed, Eric and Sharon struggled… a lot. But throughout it all, he never lost his “true north,” the reason he started CarePages in the first place.
Looking back on the first year running his first company, Eric recalled how much harder it was to run a small business than it was to run a big one. The passion Eric had for the business and product he created pushed him through the inevitable uphill battle bringing it to existence. With a small business like CarePages, the buck stopped with Eric – the money, resources and relationships were all on him. There was no room for error. Despite early struggles, Eric loved being an entrepreneur and working in healthcare. When asked about fundraising for CarePages, Eric spoke about the importance of the quality of the money and how the influx of donations and touching letters from users moved Eric and Sharon to start a foundation. His mantra during CarePages’ rough patches: “show up, be vulnerable, be authentic.”
After receiving several offers, Eric eventually sold CarePages to Revolution Health, the brainchild of AOL Co-founder Steve Case. Eric was now “hooked on healthcare” and determined to help fix a broken industry. Over the next few years, he became an active angel investor, serving on the boards of various organizations and founding or leading several other startups including RiseHealth, healthfinch, and Frequency 540, before launching AVIA, a healthcare innovation network, and co-founding Abundant Venture Partners, a values-based venture business, with former Starcom Mediavest Group executive Andrew Swinand.
Eric’s core values and personal philosophy that have guided him throughout his business career are woven into his best-selling book, Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing. When asked about the book’s beginnings, Eric told Rishi he was interested in faith and his family’s roots. He was a voracious reader of philosophy, religion, and self-help books and eventually synthesized his thoughts into a framework that formed the foundation of Start Here. His work brings together philosophy, science, and the latest discoveries about the human brain to teach the art of well-being.
Rishi and Eric wrapped up their discussion by talking about the importance of creating diverse teams with “purpose, planning, and effort”; how being “self-nurturing” by prioritizing spending time with friends and family and doing activities like meditation and exercise is critical to well-being; and how bringing energy, love, and joy into the workplace can make work restorative and inspiring instead of draining.
Finally, Rishi posed a question in the minds of many during this election year: “What does the next administration need to do for healthcare?” Eric’s advice for the next president: “Pile tons of money into experimentation, get to market, and use money in comparative analytics. If we drop massive experimentation [on the healthcare system], there would be benefits.”
Be sure to watch the full interview here and join us for the next Tales from the Trenches with Timothy Walbert, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Horizon Pharma, on July 28.