Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Profile of Chris Kersey of Camden Partners

Ask a realtor what matters most in a property and you’ll hear “location, location, location.”

Ask Christopher W. Kersey, Managing Member of Camden Partners, what matters most in an investment strategy and you’ll hear “people, people, people.”

“Venture capital and private equity are very relationship-based businesses,” Kersey says. “Camden has raised many funds in the last 20 years, and we’re now backing folks whom we’ve backed before. We work with business builders with whom we have previous relationships, whether they’re the CEOs, the founders, co-investors or deal sourcers.”

Kersey says “serial relationships” are the key driver for what he does at Camden Partners, a Baltimore-based private equity firm providing capital to companies in health care, education, technology and business services.

“The best entrepreneurs and executives - the people who have been in this business for multiple cycles - know how they want to build their next operating company and they know which trends are important and I think we likewise have a good sense for how industries evolve over time,” Kersey says. “There’s some trend recognition and predictive skills needed in our investing industry, but much of the success is attributable to people.”

On May 3, Kersey will give a keynote speech on global health care and technology at HealthCare Texas Conference 2016, an annual innovation and growth capital conference in Austin that brings together the greatest minds in health care technology from across the U.S.

Kersey serves as the Chairman of the Board of Johns Hopkins Medicine International, the development branch of Johns Hopkins Medicine with hospital management and clinical education services in North America, South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

“It’s a honor to be a part of the leading academic health care brand in the world,” Kersey says of the position, which he has held since July 2011. “We have a stellar team representing an amazing institution globally.”

A major focus of HealthCare Texas Conference 2016 will be on how health care is being transformed through information technology, big data, and value-based reform.

In Kersey’s view, the top two technological trends in health care today are point of care technologies that enable mobility and revenue cycle management companies that improve CFOs’ management of cash in terms of how providers and payers are paid and when they’re paid.

Kersey says the infusion of technology into how health care is delivered makes health care an exciting sector to invest in. And it’s only the beginning.

“When I talk about the future of health care, I frequently say that we’re in the second inning of an extra inning baseball game in terms of how technology can transform the delivery of health care.”

Camden Partners’s assets under management are approaching $1 billion.
“We anticipate gradually increasing our fund sizes with each subsequent fund,” Kersey says. “Serving as a steward of capital - our own capital and our investors' capital - is a real honor. I’m very proud of the current portfolio, but perhaps most importantly, my partners and I have the opportunity to work with some of the country’s best CEOs.”

Two of Camden’s most successful companies in the portfolio are Essence Group Holdings and PatientSafe Solutions. Essence is the leader in population health management, evidenced by a recent No. 1 KLAS ranking in population health services, and PatientSafe is a top mobile clinical communications company specializing in point-of-care medication management and barcode scanning. 

The success of Camden’s relationships with Essence and PatientSafe are “excellent examples of prior relationships with management team members,” Kersey says.

So what is it Camden looks for in a management team?

No. 1 is character and integrity. No. 2 is a proven track record of success with institutional capital.

“Backing previously successful CEOs is a big deal,” Kersey says. “Regarding our investment strategy, we also place a real premium on what we call technology-enabled service companies that possess hybrid business models that differentiate based on great customer service on the front end combined with proprietary technology on the back end that helps the business scale.  This is a very powerful front end-back end combination.”