Five Questions For … Houston Medical Device Investor Larry Lawson

Houston—Houston entrepreneur Larry Lawson started out his professional life immersed in the groovy melodies of the mid- to late 1960s.

Lawson was part of an East Texas “sunshine pop” band that relocated to Houston as the Clique. One of the band’s bigger hits, 1969’s “Superman,” reached a new generation in the mid-1980s when R.E.M. recorded its version of the song.

By any measure, it was a good life. The Clique, Lawson says, sold five million albums and had multiple top-40 hits. “I was making very, very good money in the ’60s … enough to pay cash for my first home at age 21 and for multiple cars,” he says.

But eventually Lawson says his parents’ disapproval of music as a viable long-term career option and his own distaste for some of the characters around a rock-and-roll lifestyle prompted Lawson to change professional gears.

A former high school teacher who had worked for Pfizer connected Lawson with Johnson & Johnson, where Lawson became a hospital sales representative. He founded his first company in 1982 and today is an angel investor focused on mentoring medical device companies.

“I volunteered in hospitals to learn more, volunteered when the paramedic program began in the ’70s, and rode in ambulances at night to learn more,” he says. “I love this business, mainly because I receive so much gratification from making a difference being a part of saving lives.”

In 2008, the Clique reunited for a show when the band was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame at the Museum of the Gulf Coast—joining fellow East Texan Janis Joplin, among others.

Lawson, who plays “just about everything” but focuses on keyboards and vocals, has more recently partnered with medical device inventor—and fellow musician—Billy Cohn, playing a gig or two around Houston.

For this week’s “Five Questions For …” Lawson told me about the importance of seeking silver linings among the clouds, a potential coffee klatch with Dwight Eisenhower and Steve Jobs, and why entrepreneurs should nurture their creative sides. Here is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation:

Xconomy: How does music, and being a musician, impact the way you’ve approached entrepreneurship?

Larry Lawson: Music has helped me quite a bit. As a musician—and I’m a writer; I write music—I’m creative. And being an entrepreneur, you better be creative because you will be challenged with many obstacles and opportunities to be creative. When I was in college, around … Next Page »

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