Blog, Projects RH

Our Clients can be Teachers too

Our Clients can be Teachers too

Our role to assist Neva Healthcare with its marketing strategy and some introductions to potential investors became a life- lesson on the “heroes’ journey” for our team.

Investment project management with exciting opportunities for investors

Projects RH has a mandate to work with Neva Healthcare, Inc., which has developed a revolutionary and commercially viable system for monitoring and improving air quality. Our role is to assist Neva Healthcare with its marketing strategy and some introductions to potential investors. But during our working relationship, we learned that clients can be teachers too.

Neva is a MedTech with SaaS. Its SaaS feature is it provides monitoring of the air environment.

The project has a wonderful team of experienced professionals each of which have worked with the founder and CEO, John Stephens, during his stellar career in bringing medical technologies to the marketplace.

Investors and the search for investible leaders

Our experience is that we are asked 3 fundamental questions by potential investors:

  • What is the problem?
  • What we are being presented is the solution?
  • What is in it for me?

Implicit in the second question, and what is always the subject of much debate, is that you have the right team to deliver. In this analysis they are seeking a flawless and charismatic leader.

At our meeting, John Stephens gave me copy of his book Return to the Water.[1]

Return to the Water

With this book in hand -but unread- the challenge for me was, did John meet the challenge of being the investible leader? His book would expose his character and more.

Books of this genre are written along the lines of the “heroes’ journey”.

Carpe Diem

As part of our agreement with the client, Projects RH´s managing director Carmenza Hoyos Llano and I went to the home of Neva Healthcare which is Atlanta in Georgia, USA. We quickly understood how such an advance in engineering and technology could be nurtured in this historic city, the home of Martin Luther King Jr. and the presidential library of President Jimmy Carter. It is also the home of the legendary Georgia Tech and the Centers for Disease Control based in Emory University. A center for both medical and engineering excellence.

Our CEO, founder, and host, proved to be far from what we expected and much more like the man I had met over numerous Zoom conversations. He was a true human being who wore his heart on his sleeve and called things as he saw them.

As it went through the process of getting to know each other, more familiar in Asian business based on relationships than that associated with Americans being strictly transactional, it proved we dealt with a true human being who understood people were imperfect and that included him. We have learned quickly of the loss of his eldest child at 18 and the profound impact that it had on him and his wife Anna.

John had talked of his book which reflected his personal journey of losing his son and the deep effect it has had on him and his family. His story is not one of pity but one of reflection coupled with love and deep sharing of the kindnesses and love that had been shown to him in the first couple of years following the loss of Adam.

The journey concludes with a recognition of living for those who are still with us whilst not forgetting those how have gone before us and are waiting for our arrival when the time is right.

Whilst we are here, we need live every day like it is our last:  Carpe Diem.

Openness, clear vision and great products that change lives

Wanting to understand our client who was so far away and yet appeared with a smile on Zoom twice a week, I ordered the book but unfortunately it did not arrive in time for me to catch the plane with it in my bag. I was presented with a copy on the second day of our workshop in Atlanta.

Sharing that side of your life with others is clearly something you rarely hear talked about in the parlance of corporate finance or graduate school lectures. Sharing this with others is not without risk and clearly indicates a level of vulnerability and to be human, not something we generally associate with women and men who around multinational medical businesses. Yet John and Anna plus their three daughters are a wonderful team who are happy to break the rules and create instant friends.

John’s openness allows him to have clarity of vision or where the business is going and why he wants to be successful. It is no doubt he will make lots of money -that is not his only driver- he can see the immense effect of having the Neva product in the market and helping the community. We went to Atlanta when Covid-19 was still very much top of mind and I had had Covid in Miami the preceding December- January so it was also of deep interest to me that the device we were discussing would “eat Covid, the flu and other airborne diseases”.

John is already a highly successful businessman having led a company to a NASDAQ listing, two to trade sales and one to a private sale.

He and his team recognize that Neva can be of immense social good in the United States and elsewhere in the world, but to be a social good it needs to be financially successful so they can continue to evolve and be distributed globally.

John and Anna, plus their daughters, and his team are incredibly open with a clear vision of what their product is and where it is going. This openness has its own vulnerability, but this does not stress any of them.

The book, which is still available, tells their story from his side.

After I had finished the book, I clearly felt I knew the man, and it would be easy to call him friend, but I worried, needlessly, that this would impact upon his perceived leadership skills in a negative way. It is now clear to me that he is a great leader who will bring the company with its ideas to financial success. He does wear his heart on his sleeve, and all know where they stand with him.

Return to the water, and sail to good port

At the time of writing, we are still working with John and his team, and we are in discussion with potential investors. John has the experience to bring the company again to great success, and the demonstrated humanity to maintain balance; and to ensure that the company achieves its goal in providing a healthier built environment around the world in our homes, public places, work environment, education centers and places of worship.

John will again make his vision for this company a reality. His book shows the “heroes’ journey” of the flawed human-being being a great leader who will deliver Neva Healthcare as his fourth company. 

Until the next time!

By Paul Raftery – CEO, Projects RH- based in Sydney – September 2022


[1]  Stephens, John; Return to the Water, C&R Press, Chattanooga, TN, USA, 2013.

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