Episode 34

Bringing Clinical Trials to the Patient

with Jodi Akin

May 17, 2022

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Jodi Akin
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hawthorne Effect, Inc.

Jodi Akin is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hawthorne Effect, Inc. 

Jodi began her career as a clinician, working at the bedside and developing a deep empathy for patients with critical illnesses. As an advanced critical care nurse at University of California San Francisco, she became involved in clinical trials and was recruited by Dr. Paul Yock, a cardiologist and inventor, to Stanford when he created the Stanford Center for Research in Cardiovascular Interventions and what is now Stanford Biodesign. 

At Stanford, Jodi developed a deep understanding of intersection between clinical research and introduction of novel therapies into clinical practice. Her passion for high quality data propelled her to join Rich Ferrari and the founding team of CardioThoracic Systems (CTS), the market leader in minimally invasive cardiac surgery that went public in 1996 after only 7 months, the fastest of any medical technology company in history. CTS was acquired by Guidant in 2001.

Hawthorne Effect is Jodi’s 3rd startup. Previously, after a 3-year stint as President and CEO of Vasconnect, a developer of automated, sutureless blood vessel connectors, from 2000-2003, Jodi served as CEO of NOvoVascular, Inc. which developed technology for releasing nitric oxide from the surfaces of medical devices which underwent a successful tech transfer to Duke University. From 1998-2006, Jodi also ran preEminent, LLC, an incubator and consultancy she founded to provide clinical, regulatory and product development consulting to venture capitalist portfolio companies. During this time, Jodi acquired eight medical device patents and led multiple innovations to market. 

In 2006, Jodi was recruited to Edwards Lifesciences, LLC to serve as Vice President, Global Clinical Affairs, where she led seminal global clinical trials and approvals of transcatheter heart valve therapy, pioneering a radical collaboration between cardiac surgeons and cardiologists with the PARTNER trials. Her role culminated with FDA approval for Edwards’ SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve which set a new standard for heart valve therapy and clinical trial conduct and ultimately patient outcomes. At Edwards, Jodi conceived of the idea for Hawthorne Effect after experiencing firsthand the challenges sponsors, investigators and patients experience in how clinical trials are conducted.

Jodi has also served as global humanitarian, leading international healthcare initiatives in underserved geographies including Heart To Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance, The Heart Lung Institute of the East Bay, and The Nahapetov Friendship Foundation. She was co-founder of the China Heart Group, a joint venture with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

In addition to her operating roles, Jodi serves as advisor to start-up company leadership teams, holds 2 BOD director positions (one as Chairman) and is an active investor.

Jodi holds a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, an MS in Physiology/Nursing from Pace University, New York and certification in Advanced Critical Care Medicine from University of California, San Francisco.


Continually be mindful and honest about the journey, but muscle through when there's doubt or hand wringing about getting there, because there's always a challenge, 100% of the time.



[00:00:28] Gary Bisbee, Ph.D.: Well, good morning, Jodi, and welcome.

[00:00:31] Jodi Akin: Morning, Gary. Thank you for having me.

[00:00:33] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, we’re pleased to have you at this microphone. This show is about founders and the lessons that they’ve learned on their entrepreneurial journeys. You’re certainly a very successful and experienced founder, which we’ll get into in a moment. But first we’d like to get to know you a bit better. So what was your life like growing up, Jodi?

[00:00:54] Jodi Akin: Well, it was both wonderful and difficult at the same time. Wonderful because I was born into a, I would say, a rich and colorful Italian American family and lived in a neighborhood that was, we called it the village. It was basically more poor first and second generation Italian-Americans. So everyone was hardworking and trying to find a better life from there. So that was the hard part. I was also raised by a single mom in a time when that was extremely rare, especially growing up Italian Catholic American, but I also, at the same time, was very close to our dad. So I always felt very loved and supported the way through. So it was a mix of wonderful and colorful and maybe a little harder than people my age at that time.

[00:01:38] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, what did the young Jodi think about leadership?

[00:01:42] Jodi Akin: You know, I guess, when I look back, I think, given the time I was born, there were influencers like JFK or MLK and, oddly enough, for me also a Mother Teresa in the world, all doing amazing things that ranged from just bold leadership and aspiring to go to the moon or aspiring to change the world in terms of civil rights and/or trying to deliver healthcare to humanity, to those that couldn’t have access to that. And I was aware of that at a very young age. I had posters on my walls with quotes from each of them. I never thought of it as leadership until I started to develop and be tapped in school for different roles and responsibilities. But as I look back, I think, for a lot of reasons, those are very different characters, but very strong influence on my view of leadership.

[00:02:34] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, Jodi, you went to Georgetown. It looked like you were interested in foreign service. And then ended up at some point along the line going to nursing school. What was that transition like?

[00:02:45] Jodi Akin: Well, actually, yeah, so I’ve always had, again, an interest in healthcare. And I think, again, that came at a very early age. But I thought about healthcare more at a global level, how to influence the evolution of healthcare, especially in developing nations in a developing economy. So when I entered Georgetown, that was sort of my essay to get into the school of foreign service was my interest in world health. And I graduated with a degree in foreign service, minored in economics, and had aspirations to join the World Health Organization. Along that journey, my senior year, my mom became terminally ill and passed away within a month of my graduation. That was a very difficult period. Did not have any knowledge of medicine or how to navigate that journey. As I mentioned, she was a single mom. So there was a lot on our shoulders to try to navigate through what was happening. And I met along the way, some amazing practitioners, physicians, and nurse practitioners, which was a role I had never known about before. And the particular nurse practitioner who was my mother’s hospice nurse really influenced me about the power of that role. Coupled with the fact that to get into the World Health Organization, I needed to have at least a graduate level degree. And learned through her that there was a way to enter nursing on a graduate level. It was a very unique program at the time. Now it’s a well-known type of program. And so I did that. I entered nursing on a graduate level really simply to give myself more knowledge, aside from the economics and global health, some real practical hands-on healthcare knowledge. So that’s what started me on that journey.

[00:04:22] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, like many of us in healthcare, there’s a personal story there that draws us in. Where did your interest in clinical trials then develop?

[00:04:32] Jodi Akin: So I think I always tease that when I was in graduate school, I went from undergrad of history and politics and economics to statistics and organic chemistry. And it literally felt like a brain transplant. I didn’t know that when I got through that, that I had an affinity for the sciences. And so I worked at the University of California in San Francisco as an ICU nurse, actually. It was an amazing environment, very intense. You had to have a lot of knowledge and skill in many areas. And it was also a hotbed for clinical research as a tertiary medical center. So I just witnessed amazing research at the bedside, facilitating it at that level. Interleukin therapy, tissue plasminogen activator with Genentech when Genentech was a young company. And of course it was hard not to be lured by the idea that these breakthrough drugs, you know, what impact they would have in the world. So that sort of got my interest peaked in clinical research.

[00:05:28] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, what about your first company the first company you founded, what led to that, Jodi?

[00:05:33] Jodi Akin: Well, ironically the first company I founded actually was not a medical device or an innovation. I actually founded a nonprofit, or co-founded a nonprofit, organization where we were, this is an odd story, but at the time it was Perestroika. I was working in clinical research in cardiac surgery and cardiology. And with a long story short, we were invited to the former Soviet Union to bring medical professionals and basically a full cohort team to Russia to help operate on pediatrics on babies, which they didn’t do at the time. That was an amazing journey. I helped build that entire program and created an exchange between the two countries. I was working at Stanford by then, in clinical research. And at that time there was a lot of med tech innovation happening at Stanford. And when I came back, I was invited into a med tech company as a startup, as a fourth employee. And at first I thought, oh, I’ll never go to industry. But when I had seen what I saw in Russia, I thought, wow, if we can innovate minimally invasive ways to do complex procedures, then that’s another level of scaling in terms of helping. So it was a combination of my interest in innovation, but also how to make a difference on a broader scale. So that was my entry into med tech or to startup companies. And from there, it was sort of a natural evolution of being a co-inventor or thinking up the next step ideas.

[00:06:59] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, let’s fast forward to Hawthorne Effect, which is the company that you founded. It’s such a great name for a company. What led to Hawthorne Effect as the name of your company? And then we’ll ask what the company does.

[00:07:16] Jodi Akin: Well, actually it’s funny. Having been part of innovation and developing new products, one always sort of gives a nickname to the idea until you decide to brand it. I thought, well, I’ll call it the street I was born on, which was Hawthorne Lane in that colorful neighborhood that I told you about. And as soon as the word Hawthorne sort of went across my brain, I’m like, oh, Hawthorne Effect because of its meaning.

[00:07:39] Dr. Gary Bisbee: We’ll share with the audience in case they don’t know, what is the Hawthorne effect?

[00:07:44] Jodi Akin: The Hawthorne effect is a psychological phenomenon that humans simply by being observed perform better, right? The power of observation improves performance. It was a study done basically in a manufacturing facility in the fifties. And it’s a very well known experiment. How it applies to clinical research is a little bit like the concept of placebo effect or just the fact that when you design a clinical trial with a treatment and a control arm, you have to factor that the control arm is probably going to perform better than in the normal milieu, because the patients are being observed in frequent visits. So it’s a very important concept to understand in trial design.

[00:08:23] Dr. Gary Bisbee: For sure. I’m surprised the name was available. I figured that’d be long gone.

[00:08:28] Jodi Akin: Well, so many people told me, that’ll never stick. People will hate it. They won’t understand it. And it was really meant to be temporary. But in fact, in this world, everyone sort of quite enjoys it. And I always tease that at the end of this long arc of our journey, that we will prove the Hawthorne effect of the Hawthorne Effect, which is observing more patients over time.

[00:08:48] Dr. Gary Bisbee: What led to your founding Hawthorne Effect, Jodi?

[00:08:51] Jodi Akin: I’m always excited to talk about this. So previous to this role, I was a global vice president in clinical affairs for Edwards Lifesciences, which is an amazing company, probably one of the first, if not the first, med tech company, founded in 1959 with engineers and physicians. And Edwards had acquired a breakthrough technology called transcatheter heart valve therapy, ultimately named THAT. And there was a daunting task of not only designing but almost flawlessly executing clinical trial so that the data would be irrefutable. It was controversial technology. It would disrupt the practice of medicine and in whose hands procedures were. So there needed to be, you know, really a high bar of evidence to bring that technology forward. And in the early days of that clinical program, even with the first patients enrolled, I came to find out how difficult it was for the investigators and for the patients to commit to the follow-up journey that was required. The patients were old and frail by definition or by eligibility for the trials. And we were asking a lot for them to come back frequently to the hospital to get multimodal testing, physical exams and imaging. And I was terrified way back in 2006 and 2007, when this journey started, how in God’s name are we going to ensure that no patient’s left behind, no test or data point is left behind? And that started the early seeds of, well, how do we bring the trial to the patient that would guarantee that we wouldn’t miss any followups? So that was the early genesis of the idea.

[00:10:25] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, we’ve interviewed Mike Mussallem, the CEO at Edwards, on past shows and he’s obviously just an outstanding leader. So what gave you kind of the inspiration to say, I’d like to found my own company?

[00:10:39] Jodi Akin: Yeah. I mean, it’s actually an interesting question for me because, when I left Edwards and, I agree, Mike is an amazing leader and Edwards is an amazing company. ANd it wasn’t an easy decision for me at all to leave, especially once we started to get the global approval. And built a world-class organization within Edwards. But it was so compelling. And I think that’s the thing about entrepreneurship. It’s not that you’re thinking, oh, I need to start a company. It’s not like that at all. It’s almost a gravitational pull to say this shouldn’t be this way. It shouldn’t be this hard. It shouldn’t cost a hundred million dollars to run a trial. It shouldn’t be. So I think that was the overwhelming pull. But it’s the same time, many people who knew that I had an entrepreneurial career thought, oh, well she likes smaller stage companies and that’s actually not true. My last talk I gave at Edwards to my team was, entrepreneurship is an attitude, not a stage of a company. It’s the idea that you see something that could be fixed with a lot of ingenuity and hard work. But it’s so compelling that you just feel forced to do it.

[00:11:45] Dr. Gary Bisbee: So what differentiates Hawthorne Effect from other companies in this business?

[00:11:51] Jodi Akin: If you look at the landscape right now, I feel that we took a much harder road and a longer arc of a journey because the Hawthorne Effect concept is an ecosystem change. It is a full suite of transition about how to think about a clinical trial, how to conduct a clinical trial and flip it on its head. Where most of the industry is making wonderful iterative improvements in workflows, for example, using virtual modalities to collect some of the data or work stream automation, that’s happening through software, this is quite different. This is much more of an ecosystem change that requires, I mean, I predicted it would be about an 8 to 10 year journey, similar to what happened in transcatheter heart valve therapy or any other innovation I’ve been involved with, which requires change management across multiple stakeholder groups. So I think what’s very different is this is a little bit more of a wholesale evolution than it is an iterative.

[00:12:52] Dr. Gary Bisbee: 8 to 10 years might be a little optimistic in this field, Jodi. What do you think?

[00:12:59] Jodi Akin: I think. hinvestors thinks it should happen in two to three years. But I know one of the things about being a mature and seasoned entrepreneur is having the poise and having the patience to understand the nonlinear path that innovation really does have to take, especially one this audacious, I would say. But no, I think that we’re cresting. By the way the pandemic sort of put some sort of wins into the sail of adoption and change management. I think when shelter in place or stay at home orders happened, clinical trials are literally put on hold for a moment. Patients were not allowed to come back to institutions for non-essential visits and that was a very dangerous moment, but it also sort of, from a regulatory from sponsors and CROs, everyone said, well now might be the time to push this concept forward of innovating in clinical trials.

[00:13:52] Dr. Gary Bisbee: What does a decentralized clinical trial mean?

[00:13:56] Jodi Akin: Well traditional clinical trials are conducted in the brick and mortar of academic or clinical research institutions where all of the sort of oversight and conduct of the trial from a patient level is happening in a brick and mortar setting. And at the same time on the sponsor’s side of the running of research, most of that is happening with services and large teams and lots of moving parts. Decentralized, basically on the patient side, and that’s where we’re different, by the way, we’re focused on the patient journey from being recruited to all the way through longitudinal follow-up and the ultimate data delivery. That normally happens in a hospital. And what decentralized or what Hawthorne’s done in that modality is take the hospital to the patient, regardless of their means, their geographies, their locations, and use a combination of virtual and physical logistics to enable a patient to be connected to their hospital, but not have to go back and forth into a brick and mortar.

[00:14:56] Dr. Gary Bisbee: So you have your ACTplatform. Is that what allows you to merge the hospital and the home and so on?

[00:15:05] Jodi Akin: It does. So it starts with a tech stack and that tech stack was designed to think about what we call the visit, the patient encounter. So whether the patients being screened or going through a battery of assessments, the platform enables the assessments to be automated, and the collection of data, the work streams and all that kind of stuff. It also, and what’s really unique, is it’s intersected with gig network of medical professionals, doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners allied health professionals who are, through the platform, are enabled to carry that patient through the journey through physical or virtual means.

[00:15:43] Dr. Gary Bisbee: How do you monitor patient adherence when they’re at home?

[00:15:48] Jodi Akin: Well patient adherence, of course. ,As I’m not sure how well known it is, is one of the major issues that plagues clinical trials. They may enter a trial for hope for a procedure or the promise of a new drug. But keeping them in the trial is problematic and one of the inspirations for this platform. I came to believe that a lot of that had to do with the fact that the logistics were difficult. So we reverse engineered that and, by bringing the trial to the patient in their environment and to their comfort, it changes their adherence altogether. So how do we measure that? And that’s, what’s so astounding about what we’re achieving is 97, 98% of patients with Hawthorne heroes attached to their journey stay adherent to the trial. And we do measure that on multiple modalities, predominantly the completeness quality and the timing of the data that is required in the trial. We can measure that very easily.

[00:16:41] Dr. Gary Bisbee: What about patient satisfaction and provider satisfaction?

[00:16:45] Jodi Akin: Off the charts. So our net promoter scores are about 90%, which is incredible. But patients absolutely are delighted by having heroes in their homes. Our Chief Medical Officer, this week, went and attended a visit with a hero and he just could not stop talking about just what a delightful experience it was for the patient where they would explain, if you’re in a cancer trial or if you’re in a trial where you’re not feeling well. The burden of getting in the car and going to the hospital is pretty daunting, let alone the inconvenience of all that. And then the heroes, the medical professionals, that was part of the inspiration since I am one. And I understand the DNA. Why we all get into medicine is to make a difference and is to have a connection with patients, which I think we’ve lost a lot in our healthcare ecosystem. So the heroes, since this is part of their portfolio, it’s a portfolio opportunity, they’re absolutely delighted to be able to enjoy an experience with a patient and, by the way, conduct clinical examinations and things like that in an unhurried way, in a home environment. So both the engagement scores are literally off the charts.

[00:17:57] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Yah, I’m sure of that. You’re using the term, hero. Tell us what a hero is, if you would.

[00:18:03] Jodi Akin: Well, it started as an acronym because those of us in clinical research, we can’t help ourselves. So everything’s an acronym.

[00:18:10] Dr. Gary Bisbee: That’s true in healthcare, Jodi, so we understand it.

[00:18:14] Jodi Akin: I remember one time, my children overhearing a conference call and wondering if we were speaking English on the conference call. ‘They’re Hawthorne Effect Research Outcomes Specialists or medical professionals. The construct is really unique. So this is not a home health agency or an outsource staffing model. This is where we’ve curated medical professionals. We invite them to the platform in the ecosystem. We credential them, background check, and interview them and understand their motivations. And then once they’re into our network and ecosystem, they’re offered opportunities for certification and training to conduct different kinds of, or be participating in, different kinds of trials. Their roles range from patient visits or patient navigation to actually being investigators of trials. So we have nationally renowned or internationally renowned physicians who are virtual investigators through our platform, which can be a virtual site to augment the traditional brick and mortar sites. So there’s a variety of roles and opportunities for heroes that are very exciting for them, again, as additional professional components to their career.

[00:19:22] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Does Hawthorne specialize in any type of disease or any specific type of trial?

[00:19:28] Jodi Akin: The founding principle is it had to be ubiquitous and applicable across all therapy areas, phases of trials, even beyond clinical trials, the idea of following patients for life, even in a traditional health setting. But the truth is the founding of it was born from my deep experience in cardiovascular medicine because those trials, particularly in med tech are complicated. They require multimodalities that require really precision in terms of how a six-minute walk test is conducted or the quality of an echocardiogram that requires 180 images different than a regular clinic visit. So my thought process was, if we could crack that code and do those types of trials anywhere, anytime, then the rest just gets easier from there. And so we are applicable and do clinical research across every therapy domain, cancer, dermatology, oncology, all the different areas.

[00:20:26] Dr. Gary Bisbee: How does Hawthorne work with or relate to health systems and health plans?

[00:20:32] Jodi Akin: So in health systems, in fact, what I call go-to-market 1.0, was I first approached institutions themselves before the sponsors, before my peers in the industry. I wanted to be able to demonstrate that we are added value at the institutional level, that we’re not taking research away from them, but we’re extending their reach. So our initial projects and contracts were with Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, Mount Sinai, Northwestern, all across the country, augmenting and facilitating research at that level. The long arc of by vision is that if we can continue on that journey and offer an extension of health systems to follow patients for life, they’re discharged from a procedure and how we have a modality of virtual and physical visits throughout their life, then we sort of really change up the concept of real-world evidence. We’ll have higher quality real world evidence. So if we can use an economically efficient platform like Hawthorne, which should reduce the churn and increase efficiencies. That’s my real passion and dream, is to work with health systems to integrate for a better quality outcomes measurement in the health system at large.

[00:21:47] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, let’s turn to financing for a moment. Where are you in financing Hawthorne?

[00:21:52] Jodi Akin: Well, we are in a financing right now. The tides are changing a little bit in the markets in terms of what’s happening in public and private markets. But we have a very exciting story and we are in a growth financing round right now. To really fuel our global reach, our next step is is globalization. We already have forayed into Europe, but we’d like to expand the platform across multiple geographies and expand the whole mission.

[00:22:19] Dr. Gary Bisbee: So when you’re in a financing like you are right now, how much of your time do you spend, Jodi, on financing?

[00:22:26] Jodi Akin: Well, I always struggle with the question, what percent of time do you do on what, because our time as CEO feels like it’s a 300% pie. But I would say it’s a very obviously significant amount of time because CEOs like to run companies and build a vision. So, it’s a real dedicated effort that does take up a significant amount of time.

[00:22:46] Dr. Gary Bisbee: In terms of real world evidence, which is a term that we’ve used for a number of years, and obviously it’s been a challenge, given availability of data, quality of data, and so on. But where do we stand now?

[00:23:00] Jodi Akin: So I love that you asked that question because I feel that there’s a buzzword of real-world evidence and the concepts of data scraping and mass data mining. There’s a problem, a fundamental flaw, which is what I call an ascertainment bias. Number one is, who’s in the real-world evidence in the first place, right? So we’re episodic in our healthcare journey, especially as Americans. We go to the hospital or clinic or a doctor if we have pain or something’s wrong, number one. And I think also to get a little bit dark about this, I think with copays and insurance and all the kinds of things that plague our health system, citizens or people don’t generally always go through their health journey in a methodical way, so that real-world evidence on the other side is actually actionable. That’s my personal bias. But then on top of that, think about the underserved, those not in health plans, that are not in health systems. Communities in south Chicago are not going to Northwestern or University of Chicago for their care. So there’s a natural, I would say, bias in what’s scrapable or discoverable in the first place. And then secondly, the way health data is collected is very inconsistent and it’s not harmonized. And so I think that it’s important by scale. But how I think we can help make it better is making healthcare delivery and/or diagnostics, et cetera, more accessible broad scale, the conduct of it being done more consistently. And then of course the linkages from a technology point of view, pulling in publishing data where it needs to go.

[00:24:39] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Yeah, well, little known fact. I’m a chronic disease epidemiologist by training. So, I’m with you all the way, Jodi, on this. We have a ways to go there. What do you think will be the biggest change in this decade in the conduct of clinical trials? Will it be to assume more and more of the model that Hawthorne is using or what other changes do you see?

[00:25:06] Jodi Akin: I think so. I think your question just triggered something I thought about when I founded the company, which was this disconnect about, why is it such a struggle when clinical trials happen in the brick and mortar institutions? And in my old role, you tend to sort of you know, bearing down on these sites, we need the data, you need to enroll. But these are amazing physicians and amazing academics, amazing scientists. So what’s wrong? And when I peeled it back, I realized that hospitals were not built to do clinical research. They were built first to isolate patients from infectious disease or to operate on them. It wasn’t built structurally actually to conduct research. So my short answer to that is I think it’s now a natural evolution. Now that the technology and distributed models are here, it’s a natural consequence that we would deliver it more in a distributed model. But staying connected into the healthcare system, I think that’s the really important thing.

[00:26:04] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Let me ask kind of a two-part question. One, what is the most rewarding aspect of being a founder and an entrepreneur? And two, what’s the most challenging part of being a founder and entrepreneur?

[00:26:17] Jodi Akin: For me, those are actually easy questions. The most rewarding is results. For example, if you’re a med tech entrepreneur and you invented something or you drove the trials to get it approved and facilitated that, there’s nothing like walking into a Cleveland clinic and seeing that product there, or that study book there, or just seeing the proliferation. TAVR has to be the most rewarding of all of my career, to know that millions and millions of lives are being saved through the iteration of that technology and just the thousands of casts it took to get that technology for it. It’s extremely rewarding when someone says, oh, my grandmother just had that procedure and they don’t know you had anything to do with it. So that’s really super rewarding. In fact, quick anecdote. With Hawthorne Effect, we in the pandemic were solicited by a biotech company that was halfway through their trial. They were in the last third of collecting their endpoint data. Shelter in place happened. The trial was almost shut down. Patients required echos. So Hawthorne was called and within two weeks we rescued all of those visits all across the country. The drug got approved. It’s just been published in New England Journal, but the most exciting thing I can tell you is one of my dearest friends in the world is on this drug today. And that all happened in the space of a year and a half. So, that alone was enough for me. The difficult is that oftentimes the journey is non-linear and people can latch onto the vision, but may not necessarily have the patience of the the road you have to navigate to get there. And so I think that’s the hardest part, which is continuing to be mindful and honest about the journey, but you have to muscle through when there’s doubt or there is hand ringing about getting there, because there’s always a challenge, a hundred percent of the time.

[00:28:05] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Yeah, for sure. What are the most important skills required for an entrepreneur, do you think?

[00:28:13] Jodi Akin: Oh boy, there’s so many. I think there’s a lot. I think first is honesty, meaning that intellectual honesty, emotional intelligence, and resilience are fundamentally important. Understanding who your stakeholders are is something that has always been very natural for me and a stakeholder is not just a customer. In fact, the customer, who is the customer? In our world of healthcare, the customers are, there’s a multitude of them. They’re patients, they’re physicians, they’re regulators, they’re investors, they are employees. So, in our case, heroes is an additional. So I think an entrepreneur has to be aware of who the constituents are as you’re building your journey. So I think that’s fairly important. And the last is resilience, of course.

[00:28:57] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Yeah, resilience and mindset are super important. What about highs and lows? Obviously we all have highs and lows in life. We’re going to have highs and lows as an entrepreneur. What’s an example of a high and a low in Hawthorne?

[00:29:12] Jodi Akin: Well, first of all, this may sound funny, but being an entrepreneur, it’s, a selfless kind of a thing. So building teams and then seeing them take something to a whole new level, that’s a high. It’s a high to enjoy and watch something take on its life through talented people and building communities that are all embracing a common vision. That’s a huge high right there. I think the lows are just, there’s always challenges, challenges in the ecosystem. In most breakthrough innovations there’ll be a proliferation. If it’s something good and smart, there’ll be a lot of people diving into the water. So sometimes that creates a froth and confusion. I think that’s a hard part to navigate, is to have clarity and distinction around the idea. And sometimes your highs and lows are not necessarily related to your own product or your own journey. But you have to again look at the whole ecosystem and support the whole ecosystem because, if something is not going well in the ecosystem at large, it impacts everybody. So it’s complicated.

[00:30:17] Dr. Gary Bisbee: If you hadn’t founded Hawthorne Effect, what would you be doing, Jodi?

[00:30:23] Jodi Akin: I don’t really know. I’m so all in on it right now. I enjoy life. whether I’m building something, designing something, traveling, cooking. So I think again, another denominator is generally having passion for life. So it would be something, but I’m not sure what.

[00:30:40] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, I have a feeling that it’d be founding another company, Jodi, because that’s in your blood.

[00:30:45] Jodi Akin: Or supporting others doing it.

[00:30:46] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Yeah, for sure. What would you like your entrepreneurial legacy to be?

[00:30:51] Jodi Akin: It is spawning other entrepreneurs. That’s what I would love and I’ve always been passionate about that and building teams and seeing, I’ve had people on my team that I’ve hired that were admins and now are directors in institutions. And I think the legacy is actually the talent that you support and spawn.

[00:31:11] Dr. Gary Bisbee: This has been a terrific interview, Jodi. We very much appreciate your time. I have two additional questions, if I could. One is, for those who might be interested in becoming an entrepreneur, and I’m sure that there’s a progression of those people that come in and ask for your advice. But what advice do you have for those that are interested or may be interested in becoming a founder?

[00:31:34] Jodi Akin: I think my first thing is to have an honest assessment of what one’s motivations are. There are a lot easier ways to earn a living or to even make an impact. So, I think the motivations have to be really strong and deep and profound to the extent that you know you’re going to give up a significant part of your life and freedom to be able to weather those ups and downs, which are going to happen without question. So I think a real deep assessment of, do you want to be an entrepreneur to get rich? Most entrepreneurs will say that’s not what the motivation was. It was a change. Yeah. So I think just a deep assessment of, what is the motivation in the first place?

[00:32:13] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Final question. What advice do you have for up and coming healthcare leaders? Not specifically founders or not specifically in a clinical trial space, but up and coming healthcare leaders.

[00:32:25] Jodi Akin: So I think leaders at large, and then particularly in healthcare, it has to be to think of the long arc of where healthcare needs to evolve and recognizing that it is an ecosystem of collaborators and partnerships. So to the extent of being good at leading your particular mission, but being willing and actually forging relationships across the ecosystem so that the sum is greater than all of its parts. So I do think that the future will demand partnerships and collaborations.

[00:33:01] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Super interview, Jodi. Good luck with Hawthorne Effect and good luck with your current financing.

[00:33:06] Jodi Akin: Thank you. It was really fun.

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