November 4, 2021
The full episode appears on The Gary Bisbee Show, and it can be viewed on YouTube or heard on your favorite podcast platform.
For this episode, we are highlighting advice from founders and innovator in honor of our new show Day Zero, which
What advice do you have for leaders early in their career?
Todd Cozzens: Make sure that you’re solving a needed problem. Get out there and talk to your prospective customers. If you’re selling a new value-based care analytics tool, get into every aspect of what that means. Talk to the CFO of the hospital, who is probably still dependent on fee for service. Talk to caregivers, understand the problems they’re experiencing every day. The most successful entrepreneurs are sponges for that type of information.
What makes a good startup CEO?
Aaron Martin: It’s one thing to fail quickly and not burn a ton of money. That is pardonable all the time. It’s a lot harder to fail and burn a ton of money because you keep telling yourself and investors a story that’s just not true. In some cases, to their defense, the data is ambivalent, but in a lot of cases, it’s clear. It’s that you don’t want to wake up and smell the coffee, and you figure you’re going to figure it out along the way.
Truth-seeking is absolutely critical for CEOs. If you look at our portfolio, that is a commonality across all of our CEOs. In every conversation they’re very fact based. They’re trying to focus on what is the truth about the gravitational pull that is going to ultimately move healthcare.
What do you find most fulfilling about being a founder?
Lynne Chou O’Keefe: The idea, it takes over your whole vision. As the founder and the creator, it is everything and you can never turn it off. It’s always about, how do we build to the next level and bring the vision to a reality?
It’s funny how people congratulate you along the way. People say, “wow, you’ve raised three funds.” And I go, “No, this is just the beginning. Can’t you see it?” This is so big, it’s so all encompassing. Maybe I’ll never get to the point where I pat myself on the back. There’s yet another thing as our vision grows and expands to what we believe it could be. I think this is why we are all here: we want to redefine healthcare. We want the vision of healthcare to change. And we feel this utmost responsibility, it has to be done now.
Gary Bisbee, Jr. 00:48
At Think Medium, we create personalized insights for healthcare leaders. As we explore the new health economy on the Gary Bisbee Show and Her Story, we’ve reinforced our belief that healthcare is brimming with new entrants and innovation. And behind many innovations is a founder, a person with ambition, goals, dreams and wisdom to share. So we’re excited to announce that we’re launching a new show on November 16, called Day Zero. Day Zero is dedicated to widening our insights to learn more about the journey, leadership and impact of founders. In honor of our new show, we compiled advice from three founders who have each founded multiple companies, and who we’ve previously interviewed, it’s a sample of what to expect on Day Zero. First is Aaron Martin, Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer of Providence, and Managing Partner of Providence Ventures. We’ll then hear from Todd Cozzens, Founder and Managing Partner of Transformation Capital. Next up is Lynnr Chou O’Keefe, Founder and Managing Partner of Define Ventures. Let’s begin with Aaron.
Aaron Martin 02:01
When you’re kind of starting a business, a lot of the work is just the basic block and tackling of putting the infrastructure in place, trying to generate demand, you know, getting customers to use the platform. So there’s a lot of signal to noise issues. And so I think knowing a lot of that upfront matters, and then also, go to a place like an Amazon or a big organization like Providence, which is great around teaching the servant leadership ideas. Go somewhere where you can really learn leadership, work for a great startup leader, but I think the leadership piece and the management piece is really helpful before you go and raise money and before you go start a business. I’m all about kind of, you know, preparation and getting ready for that because I cringe all the time about like some decisions I made in my first startup, you know, that had I done it in a different sequence, I would have been like, oh, that’s like a no brainer. Don’t do that, right?
Gary Bisbee, Jr. 02:57
Aaron reminds us that it’s okay to make mistakes. However, it’s more efficient to have business acumen up front, rather than having to learn from your mistakes. Next, we’ll hear Todd Cozzens’s advice for early stage entrepreneurs.
Todd Cozzens 03:13
First of all, make sure that you’re really solving a needed problem. And I would say, in your early days, you may have a great idea. I would get out there and talk to who your prospective customers might be, will be. If you’re selling a new value based care analytics tool, I would get into every aspect of what that means. And I would talk to people at payers that are still, you know, talk to the CFO of the hospital, who’s probably still got a huge dependency on fee for service. I would talk to caregivers in ICUs, oncology departments, etc. Understand, really, the problems that they’re experiencing every day, and get a lot of advisors around you that really understand this space. I see the most successful entrepreneurs in this space are sponges for that type of information.
Gary Bisbee, Jr. 04:03
Todd emphasizes the importance of seeking different perspectives to inform innovation. Let’s turn back to Aaron Martin, who highlights an important characteristic of successful entrepreneurs seeking the truth.
Aaron Martin 04:17
Where you see startups fail a lot is, you know, it’s one thing to fail quickly and not burn up ton of money. That is pardonable all the time. It’s a lot harder to kind of fail and burn a ton of money because you kind of keep telling yourself and investors a story that’s just not true, right? And in some cases, to their defense, the data is ambivalent, but in a lot of cases, it’s clear, it’s just that you just don’t want to kind of wake up and smell the coffee and you figure you’re gonna figure it out along the way and find the real opportunity, right? That truth seeking, I think, is absolutely critical for CEOs and if you look at our portfolio, that is a commonality across all of our CEOs, which is, you know, in every conversation they’re very fact-based and they’re very trying to focus on, what is the truth about, you know, the gravitational pull that is going to ultimately end up in healthcare moving in this direction or that direction.
Gary Bisbee, Jr. 05:11
To wrap up, we’ll give you a sneak peek of what you hear on Day Xero from Lynne Chou O’Keefe.
Lynne Chou O’Keefe 05:18
It was my point about having the idea. And then it just takes over your whole vision and viewpoint. And that point of that palpability of, like, we have to do this now, we have to execute faster, we have to learn from the past, but create our own vision of the future. And as the founder and the creator, you just, it is everything and you can never turn it off. It is always on. And it’s always about how do we build to the next level, to the next level, and bring the vision to a reality. And every part of the way and it’s so funny how people can congratulate you along the way. You know, people say, oh wow, you’ve raised three funds. And I go, no, this is just the beginning. Like, can’t you see it? This is so big. It’s so all encompassing. And maybe I’ll never get to the point, and Suchi, it sounds like for you too where we pat ourselves on the back. Like there’s just yet another thing as our vision grows and expands to what we believe it could be. And I think this is why we are all here is because we want to redefine healthcare. We want the vision of healthcare to change. And we feel, like, this utmost responsibility. It has to be done now. This is our time.
Gary Bisbee, Jr. 06:31
Founders are driven not by how the world is, but by how they believe the world could be. They’re truly a source of passion and inspiration. On Day Zero, you’ll hear the engaging voices of founders as they tell their stories from their perspectives, and in their own words. We hope you’ll join us and we look forward to your feedback and suggestions.