New York tech investor Steve Schlafman was recently texting old high school friends about a tragedy that has hit his hometown of Swampscott, Massachusetts, and communities like it across the country: the opioid crisis.
Schlafman, 38, knows over a dozen people from Swampscott who have overdosed and died from these drugs. A few years ago, while working as a principal at venture capital firm RRE Ventures, he visited more than 10 recovery centers and programs in the U.S. as part of an effort to research treatment options for addicts.
In the process, he discovered a company named Groups, which operates opioid treatment clinics in California, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire and Ohio. Schlafman combined his passion for the subject with his role as a venture capitalist and led a $4 million financing round in 2015. Bessemer Venture Partners is also a backer.
"A lot of these people know that they have a problem, and they want to get off of it," said Schlafman, who has since left RRE and now invests on his own.
Groups is an odd choice for venture investors, who typically bet on companies selling software, technology infrastructure and connected devices with the hope of generating outsized returns when those start-ups eventually get acquired or go public.