How Healthcare Founders Build World-Class Teams

Whether you’re a veteran healthcare leader or an early stage startup founder in the healthcare space, navigating the growth of your team is something that never falls off of your to-do list. Flare Capital Partners recently held a virtual roundtable discussion for established industry leaders and first-time entrepreneurs that dove into hiring at different stages of company growth, building company culture in a virtual world, and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

Moderated by Flare Capital, panelists included Matt McCambridge, Eden Health’s CEO, Gil Addo, CEO and Founder of RubiconMD, Carolyn Magill, CEO of Aetion, and other standout growth leaders, operating executives, and entrepreneurs from across the healthcare industry. 

 

Catch the full panel discussion in the video above, or read about some highlights from the panel below.

UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW 

If there’s one thing each panelist has learned over the course of their career, it’s that there is no one prescriptive approach to building teams. It’s critically important to not just know what skill sets you bring to the table as a founder, but to really become familiar with your weaknesses so that you can hire into those gaps. 

“In the early days of Eden, we had a credibility and industry knowledge gap. Knowing this helped us think about the kind of folks we wanted to put together — Chief Medical Officers at large organizations, leaders who were deeply embedded in operational organizations, and clinicians who were innovating on how healthcare is delivered,” said Matt McCambridge. 

Panelists advised first-time founders to reach out to people in their communities who could both draw upon both previous experiences in the industry and pressure test the assumptions drawn from this initial assessment of hiring needs. 

TIMING YOUR CRITICAL HIRES

Carolyn Magill underscored that hiring critical roles may depend on the stage of your fundraising. If your company is participating in a Series A or Series B round of fundraising, a strong partnership between co-founders is likely sufficient for potential investors. It may help to have at least one hire on board to demonstrate that you can attract strong talent — this signals to investors that you can get compelling people to join your company. Once you start approaching a Series C, the expectations for hiring shift. Whether or not you have a team with proven track records in their areas of expertise will matter a lot more. Additionally, the caliber of investors will begin to matter more — key executives at larger organizations may be willing to leave established organizations (and money on the table) in exchange for equity in your vision. Generally, it’s smart to focus on building out teams after this kind of fundraising round so you can recruit the talent that you’ll need to take your company to the next level.

Raising capital may be intimidating or overwhelming for first-time founders, McCambridge noted. “If you’re early stage with great traction, you have an understanding of what’s going to sell and that can be a platform to raise money,” he said. “If it’s too early for that, maybe you’ve deeply lived a problem and know the solution. Think about how deep a knowledge base your investors have and focus on investors you need to target based on their understanding of your space.”

office workers collaborating as a team in a board room

COMMITTING TO DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES

Diversity and inclusion efforts have been ramped up due in large part to the horrific cultural events of 2020 that catalyzed a renewed social justice movement across the country. CEOs and investors have been forced to take a look at the makeup of their company leadership and board members only to find that those positions don’t reflect the communities they serve.

Gil Addo noted it’s not just a matter of looking at how many women and minorities you have on your team — instead, what does that breakdown look like at the top, in the boardroom, or on the engineering team? At RubiconMD, he aims to have his team reflect the U.S. Census. “If we don’t reflect that, we’re not meeting our initiatives,” he said. 

Founders also should be looking at retention rates and the whole employee life cycle — diverse hires at the individual contributor level may leave, and you won’t see the impact of that hiring diversity extend to high level positions or executive level functions.

BUILDING AND MAINTAINING COMPANY CULTURE IN A REMOTE WORLD

One thing nearly every company has had to contend with after a year of working remotely is how to build and maintain company culture among a virtual workforce. 

“In healthcare, you have a unique opportunity to connect your people to the mission,” McCambridge said. “Figure out the touchstone moments throughout the course of your day, week, or year and how you can reinforce that. We conduct daily 15 minute companywide standups at Eden, for example. This helps us think deeply about how to keep employees on the same page. We spend a lot of time thinking about how to keep those touchstones the same, how to keep consistency and ritualistic moments that keep your distributed workplace together.”

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