HomeInterviewsBlack Opal Ventures, Joint Interview With Dr. Tara Bishop and Eileen Tanghal

Black Opal Ventures, Joint Interview With Dr. Tara Bishop and Eileen Tanghal

Dr. Tara Bishop and Eileen Tanghal
Dr. Tara Bishop and Eileen Tanghal

Dr. Tara Bishop and Eileen Tanghal are the founders of Black Opal Ventures, a NYC-based, female-founded venture capital firm. They met while earning their bachelor’s degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 30 years ago and bring a wealth of experience from healthcare, technology, and venture capital. 

With two decades in the healthcare industry, Dr. Bishop combines her medical expertise with extensive experience in healthcare leadership, digital health, clinical practice, and start-ups. Her previous roles include Chief Clinical Officer at Surest (formerly Bind Benefits), Medical Director for McKinsey & Co, and Associate Professor of Health Policy at Weill Cornell Medical College, among others.

Tanghal is a venture capitalist with 20 years of experience investing in more than forty early-to-late-stage companies globally. Most recently, she was a Senior Partner at In-Q-Tel. Prior to that, she served as VP of New Business Ventures of Arm and led the venture capital arm of Applied Materials. She began her career in venture capital two decades ago as part of the investment teams at Kennet Partners and Amadeus Capital Partners. Prior to entering venture capital, she was an early employee of a successful venture capital backed startup company, now public, called PDF Solutions. 

They jointly asked some questions about the firm, the strategy, the portfolio and shared with us some thoughts about the future of the tech industry.

VCWire: Can you introduce Black Opal Ventures?  

Black Opal Ventures is a visionary technology venture capital firm co-founded by managing directors Dr. Tara Bishop and Eileen Tanghal. The firm’s mission is to invest in startups that harness the power of technology for good to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. The firm’s inaugural fund aims to improve health outcomes for all by investing in companies at the collision of healthcare and technology. Black Opal Ventures strives to identify and elevate technology start-ups with purposes that mirror their own, whose definitions of success go beyond business. BOV believes that the prior experience of its managing directors, combined with their rich insights, will poise Black Opal Ventures to recognize rare value in others and drive its mission to build brilliant tomorrows. 

VCWire: Which is your overall strategy (geo/amount/sectors)? 

Black Opal Ventures invests in companies at the collision of healthcare and technology. Specifically, we invest in companies that are working to build the future of healthcare – from diagnosis to care delivery to drug discovery. We believe that data and artificial intelligence will play a significant role in the future of healthcare, so BOV is investing in companies that will create the infrastructure layer to unlock their potential. The majority of our fund invests in US based companies, but we do have the ability to invest a portion of funds internationally with a focus on the UK and Europe. 

VCWire: Beyond capital, how do you support startups?   

The managing directors, Eileen Tanghal, and Tara Bishop, brings decades of experience in healthcare, technology, and venture capital.  We support our companies on product development, go-to-market strategy and commercialization, and finding talent by leveraging our advisors and networks. We also leverage our networks and experience to help companies find diverse talent from their boards, management teams, and general team. Our executive advisor, Simon Segars, the former CEO of Arm, enriches the team.  

VCWire: What do you like to see in founders?….And what don’t you like to see in them? I mean, is there something which impresses you at a first glance?  

We look for visionary founders who have demonstrated the ability to execute on that vision. 

VCWire: Please, tell us a bit more about the portfolio. List five startups their path has made you particularly proud of.             

Empatica has developed technology that enables us to measure hundreds of biomarkers including things that are very hard to measure in healthcare such as pain, stress, and neurologic activity.  It spun out of the MIT media lab and powers access to remote clinical trials, seizure monitoring, and remote monitoring for thousands of patients.  

Hyro has developed cutting-edge conversational AI that improves access to care and care navigation for patients.  For hospitals, they can use Hyro to improve their call center and chat operations to reduce repetitive tasks and improve access and patient satisfaction.  

Blaze is the fasted growing no-code platform that’s revolutionizing the way teams build web apps and tools. It allows companies to reduce the need for costly engineering teams. Many of its customers are innovative healthcare companies whose products and services are transforming healthcare. 

Intellihealth is changing the perception of obesity and redefining how it is treated. The company was started by leading obesity experts, Katherine Saunders and Lou Aronne, to improve access to life-changing obesity care. Intellihealth cares for thousands of patients with obesity and helping them improve and reverse many of their health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. 

Conceivable Life Sciences is building technology to power an entirely new kind of IVF – making the highest quality care available to all. Conceivable is creating automation for the next generation of IVF, designing labs with the most advanced single cell robotics in the world. 

VCWire: Regrets? Do you have a personal anti-portfolio?  

We regret not starting Black Opal Ventures sooner. 

VCWire: Which sector/s would you bet 2 cents in the next five years?   

There are major changes happening in technology that are similar to what we saw in the mid-1990s with the dawn of the internet. The technology shifts are changes in communication, compute, and artificial intelligence.  If the healthcare sector can leverage these technologies, we can likely solve some of the biggest challenges in healthcare including untreatable diseases, poor access to care, rising cost of care and health inequity.