Dr. Iman Abuzeid is a healthcare workforce extraordinaire. As CEO and co-founder of Incredible Health, the fastest-growing career marketplace for permanent healthcare workers, she helps healthcare professionals live better lives and find and do their best work.
Prior to Incredible Health, Iman founded Lift League, a platform for mobile and web applications that made it easy for wellness professionals to improve client results, build relationships and increase retention.
Iman is also an NFX member and scout at Sequoia Capital, making her a well-rounded expert in both the venture capital and healthcare management consulting verticals.
On August 25, Iman joined MATTER and Danielle Smith, chief nursing officer of VillageMD, to discuss startup scalability, healthcare technology and what’s next for Incredible Health.
This Tales from the Trenches™ is produced in partnership with VillageMD.
Speaker 1 (00:12):
Hello everyone. And welcome to matters. Signature tales from the trenches series, uh, which we produce together with village MD. Uh, so I'm Steven Collins. I'm the CEO of matter. We are a healthcare technology incubator and innovation hub on a mission to accelerate the pace of change of healthcare. We do three things in service of our mission. First, we incubate startups since we launched about seven years ago, we've worked with more than 700 companies. They range from very early to growth stage startups, and we have a suite of services to help them at every stage of development. Second, we work with large organizations, such as health systems, life sciences companies, payers, to strengthen their innovation capacity. We help them find value in emerging technologies, empower internal innovators to unlock the value of their ideas and create more human-centered healthcare experiences. And third, we are a nexus for people who are passionate about healthcare innovation.
Speaker 1 (01:12):
We bring people together to be inspired, to learn, to connect with each other. And we produce a lot of programs, including large scale events for the broader community, as well as small forums that are exclusively for our members. Tales from the trenches is our longest standing series here at matter where accomplished entrepreneurs share their journeys from how they got started to what they've learned along the way. Uh, today we will be joined by Dr. IMO Iman Abu, who is the co-founder and CEO of incredible health. Uh, Dr. AusAID has an MD and an MBA, and she did early career stints at some top tier consulting firms and in product management before starting her first company in 2015, I started incredible health in 2017 and she also, uh, has roles at two venture firms, NFX and Sequoia. Uh, incredible health is the fastest growing career marketplace for healthcare workers and is tackling what is arguably the number one challenge facing healthcare today, uh, staffing, uh, the company's backed by end recent Horowitz and their most recent round valued the company north of 1.6 billion, uh, moderating the discussion today is Danielle Danielle Smith, the chief nursing officer of village MD.
Speaker 1 (02:30):
Uh, when she joined company, they had, I think, three clinics. They now have 300 and she oversees a team of more than a thousand nurses and clinical support personnel. Uh, village MD is an extraordinary company that is making value based healthcare, a reality, uh, now in partnership with Walgreens, which is committed more than 6 billion to scale village MD around the country, uh, Iman and Danielle, thank you so much for joining us today. We are, uh, really looking forward to the conversation.
Speaker 2 (03:04):
All right. Well, Imon, um, I'm so excited to be here and, and having spent a little time learning about the company first, before we start with the questions, I just have to say, thank you for this innovative service for nurses. Um, it, it, it really it's something that nurses need, but more importantly, our patients need it because we know patients have better outcomes and better care when we have adequate nursing staff. So thank you very much.
Speaker 3 (03:33):
Speaker 2 (03:35):
So, um, we'll dive right in. Um, as, as, uh, Steven mentioned, hiring in healthcare has always been a challenge today with the pandemic burnout, travel nurse premiums and high demand, uh, what possessed you to, um, try to solve the issue of finding and hiring permanent nurses?
Speaker 3 (03:58):
Yeah, and I think what, uh, what motivated me is you have to dig into my backstory, honestly. So I'm an MD. My background, uh, I've been in technology for the last many years of my career, but a lot of my family members and friends are doctors and nurses. Um, and, uh, the doctors in particular role was complaining about understaffing <laugh> and, uh, how their wars were always understaffed at the same time. My co-founder RO port lock he's, uh, software engineer from MIT. He has many family members that are nurses, and they were saying, Hey, I'm experienced, I'm qualified. And I applied to 10 places and I just don't even hear back. And we, we figured there has to be a better way. You know, we know the healthcare is the biggest labor sector in the country, in the country by number of workers. We know that it's also the sector that has the biggest labor shortages, because our demand for healthcare keeps increasing as our population ages. Uh, but the demand, the supply workers is not kept up with that demand. And we just figured there has to be a better way.
Speaker 2 (04:58):
Um, and it is cuz it is so easy. I did <laugh> I did the application almost to the end and it was like, it took me less than five minutes, which is amazing. So it's really, you simplified, it is a much better way. Um, so you mentioned that you grew up with a family. Did if I have that you have three immediate family members who are, are they physicians?
Speaker 3 (05:17):
Yeah, that's right. My, uh, father and my two older brothers.
Speaker 2 (05:21):
All right. So how did this shape your interest in medicine? And do you think that this place is a higher expectation on you to be successful in healthcare
Speaker 3 (05:32):
Um, so I mean healthcare is probably the common theme throughout my entire career. So after, uh, be, uh, finishing medical school, decided not to do residency actually, uh, and then went into, uh, hospital operations and hospital strategy, worked with, uh, a couple management consulting firms, McKenzie and Booz Allen then did my MBA with a big focus on entrepreneurship and healthcare. And then, uh, then moved out to the bay area bay area to really get into startups. And, um, my first role at a startup was as a product manager and that's really where I learned to work, uh, with software engineers and designers and data scientists and what it takes to, you know, create software products in healthcare and launch them to be successful. Um, so yeah, so I mean, fast forward, we've, we're building this, this company and this solution and it's the first of its kind, you know, tech enabled career marketplace for healthcare professionals and, uh, nurses and healthcare workers. They get their permanent roles through this, through this platform and, and we are, we're also supporting them throughout their entire career.
Speaker 2 (06:31):
Fantastic. Um, did you, how did you overcome, or did you place high expectations on yourself, um, that have shaped your ability and then, and then how has that helped you steer the ship at incredible?
Speaker 3 (06:48):
Yeah, so as far as just my family background, I mean just probably what's drives a lot of the expectations and the ambition. Um, uh, I, I come from a family of immigrants, you know, we, uh, we immigrated to the us, I moved here when I was 24 years old, actually. Um, and so, uh, like many immigrant families, you know, there's just like a real huge emphasis on education, huge emphasis on driving excellence, uh, and whatever you choose to do, you just need to make sure you really Excel at it. And so that was really, you know, drilled into my mind, frankly, <laugh> from a very early age. Um, and, uh, the, the other thing is both my, both my grandfathers were entrepreneurs as well. So there's some of that, some of those elements in my family already. So it doesn't just made me someone who's, um, ambitious, but also someone who's just very open to taking on risk, if that makes sense. So, um, having a career with, with a stable role the entire time is, you know, I think that's risky compared to like starting a company and, and being an entrepreneur. And I, I have this opinion that I think entrepreneurship is one of the best things you can do with a career in business. Uh, cuz it means you can have a profound impact at scale and you can transform entire industries.
Speaker 2 (08:05):
I love that optimism <laugh> I am so risk averse. That's just not my, uh, that's fantastic. Yeah. Um, speaking of other other ventures, your first company lift league mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, is a platform for mobile and web applications that makes it easy for wellness, I guess, wellness coaches or professionals to improve client results and build better relationships with those clients. Um, what was the Genesis for that? How did you, how'd you come up with that?
Speaker 3 (08:34):
Yeah, I mean the, the truth is like that business did not work and I'm happy that, you know, speak openly about failure. I mean that, that, uh, that idea, that concept, uh, of helping small and medium healthcare businesses retain their clients, um, ultimately didn't work. Um, and, uh, we worked on it for almost a year, uh, and the product was live. There was some revenue coming in, but we just could not get it to grow. And one of my biggest lessons learned from that entire experience is just how important ideation is and how as a founder is so important to spend and, um, invest a time, uh, and effort into just making sure and confirming that your idea is the right idea before you actually start executing it. Um, to con honestly looking at it like more like an investor, like is this, is the market size big enough to sustain this idea? Do I really understand the problems that the users are having in this, in this, um, market? Um, and what is my unique insight? Like what, what if we come up with that's at least 10 X better than what's already out there. Um, and so I don't think we did that robust exercise, uh, when we were starting lift league and which is probably the reason why it didn't work out.
Speaker 2 (09:43):
Did you do that with ideal health?
Speaker 3 (09:45):
It was with incredible health. Yeah, we did. Yeah, absolutely.
Speaker 2 (09:49):
Yeah. So it was a great learning experience then mm-hmm <affirmative> there was not a whole lot of time plus, so incredible health close at an 80 million series B funding round and announced hitting a 1.65 billion unicorn valuation last week. Congratulations.
Speaker 3 (10:08):
Thank you. Thank you. Like
Speaker 2 (10:10):
It's incredible. Um, so that makes you the highest valued tech enabled career marketplace in the healthcare sector. So can you expand on how you led incredible health through the funding process?
Speaker 3 (10:23):
Sure. Um, this is the, the third time I raised capital. So I had a, a seed round, a series a, now that now a series B um, uh, raising, capital's definitely a, a whole process in and of itself <laugh>, uh, and for this one in particular, this is a growth round, right? So this is, um, the, the, the round of design to help us continue to scale and invest heavily in R and D. And so base 10 partners led the led the round as part of their advancement initiative, which is a fund that's designed to align like the success of technology companies would wealth creation for underrepresented minorities. And, uh, they've, you know, this is a growth, uh, stage fund, right? So they've supported companies like, uh, devoted health notion, Figma, and 50% of their carried interests actually goes to historically black colleges and universities, uh, here in the us.
Speaker 3 (11:12):
And so we also have plans to set up scholarship initiatives for, for nurses, incredible health and base 10 has does. And so really when it comes to fundraising a lot, a lot of it hinges on the story and who are the investors you're targeting. So as far as the story goes, you know, our vision is to help healthcare professionals live better lives. And the mission is to help 'em find and do their best work. Like that's the overarching goal of this company. And, you know, we're defining this new category in becoming market leaders in healthcare labor. So communicating that story as well as, you know, everything that backs that up, like where the, the health systems that are using you, how many nurses what's, what are the growth rates and so on, what kind of services are you, are you providing for free? Um, how are you using technology, all that as part of the story?
Speaker 3 (11:54):
Um, and then the, the second part of fundraising is the process of who you target. And so I generally have a preference for bay area based investors to be perfectly honest with you. Um, and they tend to be San Francisco based. Investors tend to be a lot more risk taking actually. And, uh, and, and a lot more ambitious. Um, and they really do, the founders are very ambitious, but they they're. We have to be partnered with investors that are, that have the patience and are willing to do this and to support over the long term to build like a legendary company. Right. Um, and that's how, and we were fortunate to always be very selective about which investors that we go with. So each round of financing we've done, we've been able been able to get multiple term sheets. So we're able to be very picky about who we go with and we wanna make sure we choose investors that are frankly have missions that are aligned with ours. Um, and you know, they reference very well. Like they're good people, good humans, <laugh> honest, high integrity, you know, other CEOs, even CEOs of companies that did not work, speak highly of them. And then finally that they provide some kind of value, um, in terms of, you know, they were former operators, they were former CEOs, they were marketplace experts. Uh, and so on prior to base 10, uh, we we'd raise capital from, uh, Jeff Jordan and recent Moz and James Quin obvious ventures.
Speaker 2 (13:14):
So you, so you did purposefully seek out partners like base 10 as a way to pay it forward.
Speaker 3 (13:20):
Exactly, exactly. I, you know, I mentioned earlier, I'm a, um, I moved to this country when I was 24 years old. I think the, uh, entire system in the us is this amazing. I mean, the fact that we can, um, innovate, create products, solve user problems in our case for nurse, you know, for nurses and then in the future for other healthcare workers too. And for employers like ho like hospitals and health systems and have those returns be fed back into society is, is amazing. Um, two of the other investors that we have are, um, Kaiser Permanente and Hopkins, and, you know, in the case of Kaiser Permanente, it's the first time we have a customer invest in us as well. Yeah. And, um, the returns there go to the community programs that Kaiser run runs, you know, their, their, their mental health programs, their pension plans. Uh, and so it's great to, you know, be able to give back to society as well.
Speaker 2 (14:14):
That's such a neat relationship too, as a customer, you're helping them save money, uh, and retain nurses and get nurses and their, and they're able to invest in your company as well, which is, I love this part CNOs have described incredible help as the match.com of nursing and hospital placement. Um, and along those lines, they're hired be incredible health, have a 15% higher retention rate, uh, which is a tremendous statistic. Um, and it kind of shows that the match is working. Uh, but what, what do you attribute this significantly higher retention rate too?
Speaker 3 (14:53):
Yeah, the, it, I think I, I attribute it to the fact that the nurses were able to go through a very thorough job search before selecting an employer. Uh, what I mean by that is like these three key aspects to incredible health that really differentiated in our driving the value here. The first is that the employers are applying to the nurses instead of the other way around. Right. Uh, as you can imagine, the nurses absolutely love that, right? Because they create a profile, they sit back and relax. <laugh>, they get interview requests from different employers. They, the nurse gets to choose which interviews to accept and which ones to decline. The second piece is that we've automated the screening of the talents. We built robust, like, uh, screening technology, and that, that operates as scale to, so we can very rapidly verify credentials and skills and, uh, certifications and malpractice records and so on.
Speaker 3 (15:37):
Um, and, and, and, uh, and then the third piece is the custom matching technology. So for every employer and nurse we're working with, they, they are benefiting from our custom matching technology. That's increasingly getting better. What I mean by that is, let's say you're a nurse recruiter at, I don't know, NYU Langone, right. And you log in, like, you don't really wanna see 276 nurses. Like you need to see 14 that are the right fit for your roles at the time that match and where their preferences match yours. And it's the same thing for a nurse. Like, let's say you are a highly sought after ICU nurse and or nurse ed nurse. Like these are very highly sought after people, right? So, uh, they don't wanna hear, 'em a hundred employers. They need to hear from four or five that are the fit for what they're looking for and their preferences and their, and their backgrounds.
Speaker 3 (16:20):
Uh, and so that's what the matching algorithms do. The end result of all of this is, is, is, is a few benefits to the users like first, um, for nurses, you mentioned, you know, 15% on average increase in salary. And we, by the way, we only do P network. There there's no temporary workers on our platform. Um, we, we see, see a reduction in commute time, 17% average reduction in commute time. Uh, and then one third of the hires on our platform are actually relocating from different states. So this is definitely a platform that helps nurses that are looking to relocate, uh, to other locations. Um, and then on the hospital side, you know, it has to be a win for them too. So we're accelerating, hiring for them from, you know, the 82 day 82 day national average to, you know, less than 14 days, but we're also driving cost savings for them. So at least $2 million saved per hospital location. Uh, and that's in travelers costs, overtime costs, HR costs that they don't have to spend because they were able to, uh, accelerate the hiring of permanent nurses.
Speaker 2 (17:18):
Fantastic. <laugh> it's just seems, uh, incredible. <laugh> thank you. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (17:25):
And it's funny, depending on the generation of CNO, we get called the match.com of hospitals on nurses or the Bumble or the Bumble. It just depends on, it depends on the generation of the CNO
Speaker 2 (17:36):
<laugh>. Yeah. Um, so what does the future of incredible health look like? I heard you mention, you know, possibly expanding to other healthcare, but what are some other,
Speaker 3 (17:46):
Yeah. Uh, so, you know, know we're, we're almost like marched to defining this category and be the market leaders in healthcare labor. And so what we're doing with this capital that we just raised is, is, is three or four different things. First, we wanna continue investing in optimizing and automating every part of the hiring workflow. So that includes the screening and the matching. And we wanna just keep on making it more personalized and more automated for both the nurses and for the, and for the hospitals. Um, the second is we wanna continue investing in the career tools and services that we have for nurses. So we already have free continuing education for every single nurse in the country country accredited in all 50 states, built into our apps. We have free salary estimators in our apps. We have, uh, a community where nurses can ask each other for advice like career advice and, and advice on other topics, honestly, as well.
Speaker 3 (18:32):
Um, and so we wanna continue investing in that, including areas of skill, growth, educational scholarships, cross-training opportunities, and so on to keep, to ensure that this is the place where nurses are managing their career. This is not only the place where they're, uh, finding a permanent role. Um, and then the third area is we wanna, I mentioned the advice PLA the community that we've built. We wanna continue investing in that, cuz that's, uh, it looks like nurses are driving an enormous amount of value from that. And we are now the biggest online community of nurses. Um, and then finally we wanna expand, you know, so we're continuing our geographic expansion. We're live in 25 states will continue adding more states, but we wanna add more roles beyond nursing. Uh, and then more types of employers beyond hospitals, you know, healthcare is, you know, is huge, right? And so even beyond nurses, there's doctors and physical therapists and pharmacists and so on that can benefit from something like this. And even beyond hospitals, you know, there's surgical centers and urgent care and so on. So of course we wanna take it all, but like has to be very systematic with our groups.
Speaker 2 (19:32):
Sure. I think villages, recruiters would be really happy with those, uh, the shortening <laugh> time to, uh, to getting staff in, um, what was the biggest entrepreneurial mistake you've made and how do you make sure you don't make it again?
Speaker 3 (19:51):
Oh, uh, the big, the, the number one is what I mentioned earlier around just what happened with lift league and, and the ideation or lack of ideation <laugh>. Um, so what we ended up doing after that, um, is going through a very robust and detailed ideation process, right? So, um, we came up with my co-founder and I, at that time, at the time, it was just, it was just the two of us, right. Uh, we came up with probably a hundred different ideas. We evaluated each of them based on market size, based on competition, based on unique insight, like unique insights. What have we come up with? That's at least 10 times better than what's already out there, better to defined as cheaper, faster, you know, more, more delightful, whatever, however you wanna define it. Um, and honestly, for a lot of the ideas we had, like, we couldn't even come up with a unique insight, but it's hard, like, um, and ultimately like narrow it down so that we had about 10 ideas.
Speaker 3 (20:45):
Um, a lot of them actually were in healthcare. A lot of the ideas were in healthcare, just given my background and as well as, um, rowing my co-founder's background too. And, and then after that, we just went deep on market research, customer research and, um, realized, you know, the way, the way we interact with the, the way to do customer research is to present things as a concept, not as a product or a company. Right. Be like, Hey, so I'm thinking about this idea. Um, just so it's non-committal and so that way they're, they're, they're much more honest with you, um, about what they think
Speaker 2 (21:17):
You're at that point.
Speaker 3 (21:19):
Exactly. So, yeah, that, that by far is probably my number one mistake. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (21:25):
Um, and if you could tell 20 year old on something, what would it be?
Speaker 3 (21:33):
Uh, probably just like you got this, you know, that's pretty much it, like, I think, I think a lot of us go through our teenage years 20, so on just like, uh, with self doubt <laugh> and this probably, um, it's probably a little bit for me, me, at least it was pretty, it was probably more than it should have been. Like just the whole really ensuring that I quiet, like the self critic voice, you know, in my mind and just going for it and just being, being a little more confident is probably what I would tell my 20 year old self.
Speaker 2 (22:05):
Well, it worked, it turned out at some point where you became
Speaker 3 (22:10):
Speaker 2 (22:10):
Speaker 3 (22:11):
Just absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, look, I think that, uh, like related to this topic is sort of mental health or, I mean, we can talk about mental health for nurses. We can talk about mental health for entrepreneurs. Um, but I'm just a big fan of just ensuring that if you're an entrepreneur, who's building a company, it's a generally very, it's a difficult journey psychologically. And your number one job is to manage your own psychology. And so I'm a big fan of therapy of having an executive coach of having a CEO support group and, you know, all, all of that has been extremely helpful to me in, in this journey.
Speaker 2 (22:46):
Good for you, you know, you mentioned, I didn't realize incredible health started in 2017, is that right? I, I can't even imagine what the pandemic, I mean, you're, it was a great idea pre pandemic. It became an astronomically incredible idea at, at once the pandemic started. Um, but I would imagine that really changed things for you. What would you say would be the biggest change that it did for incredible health?
Speaker 3 (23:20):
Yeah. Uh, the pandemic definitely impacted our business in, in a lot of ways and certainly was impact heavily impacting our users, both sides, you know, both hospitals and the nurses. Um, it, uh, what it did for us is it, uh, it changed parts of our product roadmap, you know, changed what we were building. So we had to really invest heavily in, um, in the nurse community that we had built in, in the mental health features and tools that we were offering. Um, we had to, uh, really, uh, we had to put together our pandemic hiring suite, which is like a whole nother set of features that helps hospitals hire even more rapidly, cuz it was such a burning issue to hire, uh, more permanent nurses faster. Um, so it definitely influenced our product roadmap and then it just really builds up our, um, like empathy for the, for, for our users.
Speaker 3 (24:11):
I still remember to this day, like, uh, zooms with, uh, C CNOs and, and, and, and HR leaders and during the zoom, they they're like, I'm, I'm sorry, I need to interrupt because, uh, I just found out one of our employees just passed away right from COVID right. This is pre vaccine and so on. So they, this was like a very, uh, visceral, uh, problem and issue that was affecting both sides of our marketplace. And there were the, the, probably the third way it influenced this is just like in terms of just the press attention we got and the reports that we were putting out, we, we put a big annual, you know, data report on the state of nursing in the us every single year. Um, we are probably one of the first reports in 2021 to sh to share that there's going to be a lot of vaccine hesitancy among nurses.
Speaker 3 (25:00):
Um, at that time just surveying nurse surveying our nurse database. We have over 400,000 nurses in our, on our database. So 10 around 10% of us nurses use us. Um, we had discovered that 25% were considering not taking the vaccine. Right. And that, that was like very surprising and then vaccines rolled out and like, it was actually true. Um, and then after, and then this year's report, one of the, uh, insights that we had, or that we discovered is that one third of nurses are considering leaving the profession permanently by the end of this year. Um, and so just like the, sort of the decimation that happened in this nursing workforce, because as a result of the pandemic was very real. And, and that was definitely showing up in the data reports that we were publishing.
Speaker 2 (25:45):
That's incredible if you have 10% of the us workforce nursing workforce already, and you're only in 25 states, so that's, uh, I expect it to grow quite a bit.
Speaker 3 (25:58):
Yeah. There's still, we still have a long way. We still have some ways to go <laugh> yeah,
Speaker 2 (26:03):
It's incredible. Um, sorry, I keep saying incredible, but it's a fitting name. <laugh> what advice do you have, uh, for entrepreneurs listening in who are just starting out?
Speaker 3 (26:18):
Uh, yeah, a few different tips. Um, one I shared earlier is just to make sure your ideas full proof before you even start executing, because it's, it's like a ship leaving a Harbor. Like you wanna make sure your ship is pointed in the right direction. So, you know, end up somewhere random. Um, uh, second is, uh, just the importance of user obsess, user obsession. We call it customer obsession here at incredible health, do whatever you can to delight your users. Um, and at the end of the day, they are your, they are your most, most important constituent. Uh, when you're building a company, it's not, you know, I'd love to say it's the investors or, or the employees or the co-founder or so on. No, it's actually your cus your customers, your users will make or break you. Um, and if you are, uh, delivering on their needs and delighting them, then that usually ends up satisfying the rest of the parties that you're involved with. Um, yeah, those are probably my top, my top two
Speaker 2 (27:15):
Sounds twice. Uh, the only other thing I have I think is what do you do every day that contributes to your success?
Speaker 3 (27:25):
Um, I I'll chat more, little more about non-work stuff, cuz I think a lot of that contributes to the success. So first it just like the importance of just having boundaries, because work is, um, when you're building a high growth company, the work is really all consuming. The to-do lists are never ending and it's not just me, it's even, even my team members. Right. Um, and with growth rates this high, I mean, so for example, like in 2021, our top line revenue grew 500%. Right. And that's just a lot of growth, uh, and a lot to keep up with. And so, uh, just ensuring that you have boundaries in place in my case, um, I won't work on Saturdays, for example, no matter what's happening. <laugh> um, I try to have dinner with my husband, like three times, three times a week. I can't do it all five nights a week to be, to be honest, but three times is good.
Speaker 3 (28:11):
Yeah. Um, I have team members that also, you know, that what enables their successes, they just have, uh, you know, dedicated times to spend with their kids. For example. Um, I mentioned earlier another non-work set of items that have contributed to my success is the, um, the executive coach, the, the therapy, you know, having a therapist on hand and also just being part of a really strong, um, support group with other founders and CEOs. It's literally WhatsApp group. And you know, sometimes we meet open person too, but there's many variations of this is YPO and many other type of forms of support groups, which I think that is very helpful, but its really the only, the only other, uh, individuals who are really gonna empathize and understand what you're going through is other founders and other CEOs. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (28:55):
Would you, when you say you don't work on Saturdays, do you really turn it completely off? Yeah.
Speaker 3 (29:01):
Speaker 2 (29:02):
For you. Yeah. That's and, and speaking of the rapid growth, um, you talked about it, one of the, the big challenges. I know we face it here at village and, and entrepreneurs face that they're fortunate enough to lead a company that scales this rapidly, um, is dealing with the internal mechanics of scale, the leadership team that goes from no revenue to 10 million to now where you are, um, you know, may not be the same team that takes the business all the way. Um, and then, you know, you have a culture that energizes a small upstart, but then maybe not where it is now. So how have you navigated
Speaker 3 (29:40):
These issues in your business and yeah, uh, these are great topics. Um, great questions. So, uh, there's a few ways that we've navigated scaling. Um, first and foremost, it really starts with a mission vision values, you know, so the vision is to help healthcare professionals live better lives. The mission is to help them find and do their best work. And then we also have a set of values that are really like the operating system of the company. And they're how we work together. We actually crafted these values when we started in 2017, just me, it was just me and Rome at the time. <laugh> um, and you know, things like values like customer obsession, do whatever you can to delight users, speed room as quickly as humanly possible. It's one of the main competitive advantages you have as a high start up as you can move faster than anyone else in the market.
Speaker 3 (30:22):
Um, disagree and commit, make sure you have an environment that's safe, where we can disagree and debate and dissent and we're making decisions based on, uh, what's best for the business. And what's best for the users. Not what's best for someone's ego or someone's title or, and other things that get introduced as you're scaling. Um, and so really the values are implemented, uh, as part of our hiring processes. So they're evaluated when we're hiring, we have certain interview questions that are crafted around many of our values. Um, they're part of employee onboarding and they're also part of performance reviews. So how well did this person live up to incredible health, like set of values? Um, so that that's been just like, like creating that framework. I mean, people call it culture. I don't, I, my culture is a very, um, non-tangible thing. <laugh> so that's why I like to, there's like some definition around it, but effectively that is the incredible health that is shaping and defining incredible health culture.
Speaker 3 (31:14):
And it has to yet it's a very proactive exercise. Um, secondly, you mentioned, you know, the, the, the, the leadership changes and the constant upgrading that has to happen. Yeah. Um, when you're scaling this rapidly, I'd say there's probably three areas that have to constantly get better. Uh, one is leadership two is, um, processes and tools and infrastructure. Right. Um, and then three is just like, we have to keep upgrade, keep enhancing and maintaining the culture. So, um, on the leaders, like, yeah, I've had to spend the last 18 months, like building out a full blown senior executive team. I've got a very senior leader in sales and customer success in, in, in, in HR, in and so on. Right. Um, in product and in engineering. And so, so really it's just, um, I have a requirement for hiring senior executives that you have to have come from another high growth setting. Yeah. Um, because this is a compar different S right. Yeah, exactly. Right. It's hard until you're in it, right? Yeah. <laugh> because their, their jobs are challenging. Imagine needing to hire, train, build out process, hit metrics, uh, you know, collaborate with your peers, etcetera. All at the same time, uh, while the company's growing at 500%, you know, like it's just, it's just very, uh, these are very challenging roles. Yeah,
Speaker 2 (32:32):
Sure. I think there any questions in the chat, let's
Speaker 3 (32:40):
See. I think there's a few that came through. Yes.
Speaker 2 (32:48):
Uh, how do you navigate and lead your teams who are burned out and regularly say in response to any task we are just so short staffed. How do you keep your staff motivated and engaged? Yeah.
Speaker 3 (32:59):
This is a great question. I I'm interpreting that question as, as what the, not so much. What, what is incre, what is, uh, happening inside incredible health, but how are, um, possible executives, for example, tackling this problem with their nursing staff? Um, um, you know, we, we, uh, have, uh, robust data reports. Our most recent one was like a third annual nursing report, like, um, which, which published earlier this year. And we check, we, we, when, when profiles are being created on our platform, when nurses are joining incredible health, we are checking, what are the reasons for why they're changing jobs? And by far, the number one reason is career advancement. I am looking to advance my career. I wanna grow my skills, or I want that comes in many forms, growing my skills, getting more specialized, moving into leadership, cross training, you know, et cetera.
Speaker 3 (33:50):
It comes in many flavors by far. That's the number one reason why nurses are leaving, uh, or changing, changing jobs. Number two, uh, most common is, uh, I'm looking for a better schedule. Um, and number, number three is, uh, something due with geography. I'm looking to reduce my commute time, or I wanna relocate. And then number four is actually compensation. Um, and so what we're finding is that the nursing leaders and HR leaders that have crafted, uh, their strategies and tactics around those areas is especially the first two career advancement and flexible scheduling tend to have better retention and tend to be able to hire more. Um, so investing heavily in career advancement programs has pays off huge dividends and retention in hiring, um, investing in, um, providing more flexibility in scheduling, whether it's self scheduling, um, not just being restricted to the, you know, three, three days a week, 12 hour shift, offering more weekend options. Um, and so on has, has ensured that, that it helps ensure that nurses can fit their roles and their jobs into the rest of their lives, uh, also improves retention in hiring so that those are some of the, the, I guess, the, the tactics that we have, and we do lots of events in webinars with CNOs NCS, actually, um, and, uh, where they're, they're sharing their tactics and their ideas for how they drive retention and motivate their staff. And, um, and, and then drive more hiring too.
Speaker 2 (35:17):
It's great to be able to learn from it and with the data that you have to share it with them. Um, how do you support nurses with low or no tech, I guess capabilities.
Speaker 3 (35:29):
Yeah, so like, that's interesting question. So I mean, our, our thesis is that nurses are interacting and supporting each other in the offline world. Okay. That's already, that's that's happening. And so the que the, the role of the technology is like, how do, how can we, um, accelerate that and pour fuel on that and scale it, right? And so, for example, our, our nurse community inside our inside the incredible health apps, um, uh, is, is a way to, you know, take advan is, is a way to, um, take that all that offline activity and bring it into a, more into a safe forum that's at, at scale where, you know, the ER nurse in New York city is able to help the, uh, ER nurse in El Paso, Texas. Right. Um, there's very specific questions being asked in this community and the unique thing because of our access to data and the nurse profiles and so on.
Speaker 3 (36:26):
So, so let's say, let's say ed nurse is asking, um, you know, I'm trying to grow my skills in the ed in X, Y, Z ways. We are able to automatically ping the ed nurses in our database that, Hey, this question's here. Are you, would you be open to answering it? And they're able to come in and answer that question in a very specific way. Um, and so the role of technology is to really like, um, shape and craft, uh, these, these conversations. And we can take advantage of things like, you know, being able to ping all ER, nurses are in database to answer a specific question,
Speaker 2 (37:00):
Nurses helping nursing with the support of, of tech. Um, do you target international markets or are you focused? Is your focus exclusively in the us market?
Speaker 3 (37:11):
Um, right now it's exclusively us. I mean the us healthcare market NASA. So, so it's really, really keeping us very busy. <laugh> we have no plans to go, um, to go international. Um, one other, sorry, quick comment. I just wanted to comment around supporting nurses with, with, with no tech, uh, one of our thesis, and what we've discovered is technology is important for the human layer matters just as much. And so we really invested in adding, uh, what we call our talent advocate team. And so this is a team of nurses employed by incredible health, and you can think of them as career coaches. And so they're helping nurses with interview preparation, um, helping them evaluate offers. And when you see the reviews of incredible health on Google, on Facebook, and even in the app app store, I mean, they, uh, a lot of the reviews comment are about their talent advocate. And so I, I, I don't, I I'm not, not at all ever wanna say that tech is like the panacea, it's like the solution to everything. It's really not. <laugh>, it's, it's, it's one aspect of it, but the human component that we've layered on top of this is, is, is critical, has been critical to our success as well.
Speaker 2 (38:15):
That's what I, I read so many, five star reviews. And so many of the times it was all about their talent
Speaker 3 (38:22):
Advocate. Yeah. They name them they're by name, right?
Speaker 2 (38:24):
Yes. Yes. They know 'em by name and, and are really, um, grateful for their help. I love this. What made you overcome the Stockholm syndrome, being a physician, ignore a stable paycheck and take a risky route that, that adversity did you, what adversity did you face? What's your advice? I am also an MD and an MBA, and would love to hear your
Speaker 3 (38:47):
Story. That's fantastic. Yeah, that's a great question. I got that question very often. Actually. Um, one thing I just wanted to say is like, just, you know, working as a clinician, whether an MD or a nurse, I mean, it is a great career. Okay. So like, it is, um, the ability to have an impact one-on-one on patient care, um, and do all the thing, great things that MDs and RNs do, like whether it's research or, you know, so on it's just like delivering on patient care, frankly is, is, is a, it's a phenomenal career. And I really hope that more, you know, more Americans often to those jobs, right. We definitely need more nurses and more MDs as long. Um, as far as like just the entrepreneurship aspect of it specifically. Um, I guess the way I evaluate risk is different than many of my MD peers.
Speaker 3 (39:33):
Right? So I, I, I, I think, uh, having what, what, what, what is described as a stable paycheck and a quote unquote less risky route is actually quite risky. Yeah. It means that the, the impact that you might have, and the scale that you're able to achieve is going to be, could be somewhat unlimited. Um, and at least that's how I, I perceived it for myself. Right. Uh, and so, uh, I think going down the entrepreneurship path is in my opinion, less risky, uh, because it means that you're able to, uh, pursue, uh, a huge vision, huge ambitions you're able to transform entire industries, you're able to operate at scale. Um, now having said that, I mean, obviously it's like the path is difficult and wrong with failure and, and so on. But, um, I guess I, I just didn't see any other path for me.
Speaker 2 (40:29):
What was your best strategy for finding investors?
Speaker 3 (40:34):
Oh, uh, great question. So, um, finding investors and just the whole fundraising, very many aspects of the fundraising process is like sales, right? It's just, just like finding PO you know, possible executives and health systems and, or just like, uh, encouraging team members who join your team. I mean, so much of what you do as a CEO is selling right to different, different constituents and different parties and investors are no different. Uh, in my case specifically, I think my move to the San Francisco bay area back in 2013 was critical. Um, it, that is how, um, I eventually got, um, integrated into the, um, the Silicon Silicon valley or San Francisco bay area investing community. Um, it actually started with award professor of mine, his name's Adam Grant, and Adam introduced me to one team member, I think, one investor. Uh, and then that investor introduced me to three or four more like it's a, it is just a giant networking exercise, uh, to be honest, in order to, um, build out that network. Now, there are also specific tools that help you identify investors too. So for example, signal nfx.com, um, crunch based.com like these, these are, they have entire databases of investors. The cool thing about signal, signal.nfx.com is that you can literally filter it by geography, by investor interest by check size. And so you can re, or you can really just, um, customize that search to specifically what you're looking for. And then it'll pops up like this great list. And then after that, it's like a networking exercise, how to get
Speaker 2 (42:11):
In, in, um, do you work with employers to actually improve what they are offering nurses as far as schedules benefit, pay, et cetera, kinda
Speaker 3 (42:22):
Touch on? We, we do. I mean, this was one of the surprises that I, that I have, um, you know, in our early days I was like, okay, this, as long as we deliver on the, as long as we have enough, we have enough and the right nurses in front of them, everything will, we find turns out that it's actually a little more complicated than that. <laugh> and we have, uh, an entire customer success team here at incredible health that manages the relationships with employers. And one of the key things they do is share best practices on hiring, on retention, on benefits, perks. Um, oh, and so on. Cuz we have the benefit of working with so many different hospital teams. We work with over 600 hospitals and health systems across the country. We work with very big ones like Kaiser Permanente and HCA healthcare.
Speaker 3 (43:06):
We work with academic medical centers like Cedar Sinai, and Stanford and Johns Hopkins and NYU and, um, and loss of community hospitals too. And so we're in a unique position to really share practices. Um, and, uh, it turns out that by, by accelerating your internal hiring operations, for example, or by offering more flexible scheduling and so on, you're able to hire more. And so these, a lot of this is, is shared with teams, obviously like the health systems are competing, so it's shared in a way that's very anonymous. Right. But, um, uh, we, we have had to, we have had to, whether we like it or not play a big role in that as well.
Speaker 2 (43:45):
Interesting outcome. Thanks for your insights on how do you find your co-founder support group? How did you find your co-founder support group and how do you look for your mentors, personal board of advisors as an entrepreneur?
Speaker 3 (44:00):
Yeah. Um, that's a great question. I, I think it was, for me, it was very much a gradual process. It just built up over time. So for example, um, the group of founders that I interact with, I met, met a few of them when I initially moved to the San Francisco bay. And then over the course of 10 years have just like really built up that network. Um, and to the point where now we meet, we meet socially we're friends, we've gone to each other's weddings, et cetera, right. Just, uh, just like it's just another, it's another group of work colleagues, uh, essentially. Um, and, uh, for the, for the personal board of advisors, I love that phrasing. Um, that has also happened gradually. I think our, one of my first, um, groups of advisors were my early investors. So, uh, James curer and affects James Joaquin obvious ventures, Charles Hudson at precursor ventures.
Speaker 3 (44:51):
I mean, these were some of our first believers, first backers and all of them have extensive all grading experience too. Uh, and so at the end of the day, um, sure the capital's great, but like the fact that they have added value in other ways, including giving me fantastic advice has, has been, has been very helpful. I think probably now at this point, one of my, one of my biggest advisors is Jeff Jordan and recent Horowitz. You know, Jeff Jordan was a CEO of open table, right. He's president in the eBay. Um, he was an early investor and board member at Airbnb and Instacart and, um, and, uh, Pinterest. And so he, he knows marketplace, he knows two sided marketplace. Like he knows it cold, right. He's been doing the substance in the late nineties. And so just his advice. He is our board member as well, has been, uh, critical, uh, for me as well. And for, for my ability to develop as a CEO, too
Speaker 2 (45:43):
Nice as a female entrepreneur and a successful businesswoman. What are the ways that you could support other females moving in the same path coming from your background origin?
Speaker 3 (45:55):
Yeah. Uh, that's a, that's a good question. Um, you know, we're all, I'm, I'm very aware and I think, you know, probably a lot of people in this call are aware of some of the biases and issues that happen with female CEOs, as well as minority CEOs, uh, just around our access to capital and so on. Um, and look like that that structural bias is real. I mean, the numbers speak for themselves. Um, what I often, um, say to myself as well as others that, you know, look like me is it's good to be aware of that, but you just actually can't even think about that when you're trying to pursue your vision and your mission. Um, it's, it's almost like you have to suppress or compartmentalize, uh, all of that and just, uh, be extremely assertive about your ambitions and your mission and what you're trying to do. Um, and that, that is, you know, back to what I was saying earlier where like, you know, you, you, you're speaking to the press, you're speaking to team members speak to joining your team. You're speaking to customers, you're et cetera. So like, it, it is, it is, uh, just very important that you really just be assertive and just go for it. Um, at the end of the day, it's gonna be us that change the paradigm, right. Change, change how this all works. Like it would, it'll be our successes that change the numbers.
Speaker 2 (47:11):
Yeah. Says when you, um, when you first launched incredible health, how did you generate demand and obtain buy-in from hospitals?
Speaker 3 (47:22):
Oh, uh, okay, great. You're bring, you're bringing back some memories. Okay. So <laugh>, uh, getting as, as many, many you're aware, like, um, getting a large enterprise, like a hospital or health system to, um, give your startup a try or give your product a try is, is, is tough. Right. Um, and
Speaker 2 (47:43):
Get 'em to listen to you.
Speaker 3 (47:45):
<laugh> yeah. Our, our, what I call our early adopters were in the San Francisco bay area. So, uh, HCA healthcare, Stanford, uh, Stanford, Stanford children's, um, uh, so on they, they, these were some of our earliest teams joining our platform when I think back around how we got the early team. So first of all, it, uh, it's the early team that does it. Right? So it's either at the time it was me or one, you know, one other team member that's we just have to really grind it out to, to get those initial team members, initial hospitals, excuse me. And, uh, what's very important. So there's two issues. One was, there's two things you have to tackle. One is access. And then the second is what are you, what's your messaging? What are you actually saying? Right. Um, on the access piece, I mean, you basically have to try everything, you know, we cold calling and networking and so on, right.
Speaker 3 (48:36):
To get to the actual decision makers. Um, as far as the messaging, you have to be extremely clear in terms of what, what is the problem you're trying to solve and how do you, how do you deliver on it? And you have to position it in a way that is, um, a benefit to them, right? Um, at the end of the day, the, the, the standard hospital executive does not actually care that we're building a two sided marketplace. <laugh> they wanna know how are we gonna help them get more permanent hires and, and improve their hiring operations and make them successful. Right. Uh, because frankly they're, they, jobs are tied to this. Their bonuses are tied to this, their performance reviews are tied to this. So really positioning it in a way that, um, ensures that they're successful is important, and then really explaining your differentiation.
Speaker 3 (49:22):
What is so different about incredible health compared to the standard traditional recruiting agency or using indeed or using LinkedIn or using the hospital's own job, or really clarifying that is, is, is, is really, is very critical. Um, and then, and then the last element is like, I mean, honestly, you just have to find your first believers at, at every single hospital and health system even today, right. There's always one or two leaders that wanna try something different that know that what has, what they've already been doing for the last 10, 20 years is no longer working and they wanna try something, um, different. And so really identifying who are the early adopters, who are the innovators in each and every health system is critical.
Speaker 2 (50:01):
So again, that's why it helped that you started in the San Francisco bay
Speaker 3 (50:05):
Area. It helped it that's right.
Speaker 2 (50:09):
Um, just, it, there's a talk about, um, rural hospitals where travel nurses are the norm. So does incredible health see that they'll have a presence in, in more rural areas to help combat that trend?
Speaker 3 (50:25):
Yeah. Um, you know, our ambition is definitely to support both urban and rural areas. We're very FOC we're, we're, uh, probably have a much larger presence in the urban areas in the United States compared to rural. Um, the, the two exceptions are the markets that we've been in the longest and that's California and Texas. What we've discovered is once we, um, once we have, uh, have a very strong presence in every urban area in the state, uh, we have built up our processes, our da, our nurse database, our, you know, um, our employer database on and to at a point where we are in a good position to serve the rural areas. So we do support Fresno, California, Bakersfield, California, Waco, Texas. So, you know, you know, the locations that are outside of the very big cities very successfully. Now, we are definitely not there with some of the other states that we're in. Um, for example, we just, you know, just started in Ohio. We just started in Missouri. Um, we must, we're very focused on just the urban areas there before expanding into the rural areas for those states.
Speaker 2 (51:28):
I think this one, do you think it is important to have a clinical background MD RN, et cetera, first in order to be successful in healthcare, healthcare tech, entrepreneurship?
Speaker 3 (51:39):
Yeah. I mean, my quick answer to that is no, I don't think it's important required. I mean, is it helpful? Definitely. <laugh>, uh, it, it gives you, um, being an MD or RN in, in healthcare technology does give you more, more credibility. Um, it also helps you empathize with your users more. Um, and, uh, especially in the early days, like you have, uh, a little bit more jargon and a little bit more knowledge, frankly. Um, however it is not sufficient. Uh, we, um, we very intentionally hire senior leaders and entire teams who do not have clinical backgrounds. Um, I'll give you a few examples. Our entire, um, products and engineering team do not come from healthcare and, and, and our marketing teams as well, do not come from healthcare. Uh, and it's very intentional, uh, because we want them to come from other industries, whether it's, you know, transportation or hospitality or wherever, right.
Speaker 3 (52:40):
Um, because they are bringing the best prac the best practices from those technology companies that operate in those industries into incredible. Um, and having said that we have a sales and customer success team, and they definitely have healthcare backgrounds. Right. <laugh> uh, because that drives more cred. We have that drives more credibility for them with the, with the, with the employers, for the hospitals. Um, and so it's just important to have like a diversity of backgrounds in when you're building out a company, whether it's building out a leadership team or building a company overall, because there's, there's, there's massive advantages from different backgrounds. Um, and if you're trying to innovate and you're trying to create something from nothing, and you're trying to find a new way of doing something, then it helps to have different a set of voices around the table.
Speaker 2 (53:27):
Sure. Makes sense. So I guess the, the theme through here is you certainly, you don't regret going through medical school and then not practicing.
Speaker 3 (53:37):
Oh, not at all. I'm not a waste of, I think it's like the, one of the best things did, it's going medical school. Yeah. That's
Speaker 2 (53:44):
Speaker 3 (53:45):
Now there's a thousand paths to entrepreneurship. Right,
Speaker 2 (53:48):
Speaker 3 (53:49):
But that's why I, I, I don't, I usually, um, disagree with like fitting into just one specific mold. Right? Like, there's, um, there's a thousand paths to success. There's a thousand ways to build a company. There is no silver bullet. Right. So, um, and, and, and, and the, and the proof is that there are many, many teams and many leaders that have been very successful with very different paths and Def different approaches.
Speaker 2 (54:14):
It's the customer obsession, right.
Speaker 3 (54:17):
<laugh> yeah, exactly. That's hard to get away. It's hard to be successful without customer
Speaker 2 (54:21):
Obsession. Right. Without that. Um, I think that's all of the questions. Oh, I think speaking of differentiation, do you think that the larger companies like indeed in LinkedIn with larger capital, could mimic you and become fast followers to compare, to compete against you in the same space.
Speaker 3 (54:43):
Yeah, we're wonderful question. I mean, um, we all have to think about that as, as startup leaders, right? Think about what's going on with these big companies. Uh, I'll answer this question in a couple different ways first and foremost, like you must remain paranoid, right? Like Andy Brook's book only the paranoid survive. So you do actually have to really be paying attention to what everybody's doing, what other startups are doing, what other, what big companies are doing and so on. Um, because, uh, you know, that, that just, you just gotta be aware of all that. Having said that what I tell myself and it's say, oh, well, what I tell my team is competition is not gonna kill us or make us successful. It's your customers that are going to kill you or make you successful. So back to customer obsession, right? Like we need to obsess over users over the employers over the talent nurses and so on and not, we should not be obsessing over what the competition is doing.
Speaker 3 (55:37):
And then, um, finally is, look, there's a lot of business history here around startups, startups versus big companies, you know, David versus Goliath <laugh>, um, and amazing books like the innovator's dilemma, like, uh, black Saint Christiansen, that show that, um, it's not a given, it's not guaranteed that these big companies know what they're doing. Right. They have a lot of priorities. Um, that might be very different from a startups priorities. They have red tape, they move slower, a lot more bureaucracy, a lot more bureaucracy. So just like the, the history of business, especially in the us is innovation, right? It's like the startup take, you know, comes up with something different and then, you know, and it turns into a big company and then whole cycle starts over again like that. That is how, uh, we progress in, in business and innovation.
Speaker 1 (56:25):
Yeah. Well, thank you so much. Uh, Iman, thank you so much, Danielle really appreciate, uh, the conversation and the perspectives and the insights. Um, thank you all for joining us. Enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you so much.
Speaker 3 (56:40):