Kristen Valdes, founder and CEO of b.well
Kristen Valdes is the founder and CEO of b.well. Kristen is a transformative force in today’s healthcare marketplace, spearheading the conversation on how empowering consumers can transform healthcare delivery. She is a seasoned healthcare executive with over 20 years in the industry and has dedicated her life to pioneering inventive solutions. This quest has been largely driven by her powerful personal story as the mother of a child suffering from a significant autoimmune disorder.
I had the opportunity to interview Kristen recently. Here are some of the highlights of that interview:
Jill Griffin: Let me just start from the beginning. What led you to found b.well?
Kristen Valdes: I’ve had the really good fortune of being a health care executive for the better part of two decades. I started with CMS and then at XLHealth where we built a Medicare Advantage health plan from the ground up. Then we were acquired by United Healthcare, the nation’s largest health insurer, where I stayed on as an executive for several years.
During that time, my second child, Bailey, was born with a very significant autoimmune condition. In her early years, her body would have an immune response that would go away just as fast as it would come. So, doctors couldn’t really see what I could see. I was tooling her around to all the doctors and specialists and they treated me like the mom who was trying to find something wrong with an otherwise healthy child.
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Then when she was around six, Bailey had a sinus infection and her pediatrician prescribed a medication that caused her body to kill off all of its own blood platelets. She was hospitalized for many days, trying to reverse the course of the medication. This was a near-fatal event that could have been avoided if two Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems would have been able to communicate. This event, however, was the precipice over which we eventually got to a diagnosis, after seven and a half years.
That’s when I got really frustrated, because I knew that the data was there but not getting to the right doctor at the right time. That is a very common problem in healthcare, and I thought I knew how to solve this. So, I left my job to launch b.well, which is named for Bailey–I’ve called her ‘B’ since the day she was born. I just felt like we needed to do better for families. I wanted to give them the tools they need to become active participants in their own healthcare. Because in this complicated system you have to be able to advocate for yourself and your family members.
Griffin: Please tell me a little more about what b.well does for people.
Valdes: Sure. The b.well technology platform is transforming how consumers interact with the healthcare system by integrating data, insights, and partners into a single customized solution that helps people take control of their healthcare experience.
Think of it as a one-stop shop for healthcare. We give consumers access to all of their healthcare data including every provider that they see–including Medicare and the Veterans Administration–all their insurance information, any wearables or sensors they have, their lab results, and their pharmacy information. We pull all that data into one location with a single sign-on so consumers don’t have to go looking through dozens of websites to get their information.
Then we use that data to create personalized health messages–the things that your doctor will normally tell you when you’re in the office, only with b.well you get it on your phone. b.well might say ‘hey, it’s time for your colorectal cancer screening or your mammography.’ Or, ‘it’s time to get your hemoglobin A1C drawn,’ if you’re living with diabetes.
So, think of b.well as a guide that automatically tells you when you have a care need, based on your own data. And then we navigate you to the best way to complete that care need, whether it’s in-person, virtual, or a digital solution like telehealth. And finally, we let you share your information with others in your circle of trust.
While we are designed completely for consumers, we license our software to healthcare stakeholders looking to provide a better, more holistic experience to the populations they serve. Our clients include hospital systems, insurance companies, employers and pharmacies.
Griffin: I got it. So, let’s go back to your daughter. How is she doing now?
Valdes: She’s great. She is just graduating from high school and was accepted into college. She will be living with her condition for the rest of her life so she has a lot of things she needs to take care of in terms of medication regimens, and things like that but I feel confident letting her go away to school, because I know that she is connected to all of her information through b.well and she’s educated as a healthcare consumer and knows how to advocate for herself.
Griffin: Switching gears, I know that you’ve been a mentor to a number of women-owned companies. What advice would you give women who might have ideas for new business?
Valdes: I’m very passionate about helping women-founded companies to find their way. My advice is, find someone in your space who started a company right before you, who’s selling to the same people you’re selling to, who’s raising money from the same people you’re raising money from, and who’s willing to help you by providing quick introductions. I didn’t have that and as a result wasted a lot of time. Time is one of the biggest factors in the success of any startup. I went through a lot of challenges that could have been avoided if I had had a mentor who was current in my space who could have helped me.
For the companies that I advise, I tend to be able to give them shortcuts like, “Hey, don’t worry about hiring a lawyer to create all of these basic forms. Here’s ours that were created by our lawyers. Or, “here is a list of all of the active investors by stage and what I know about them, let me know who you would like me to introduce you too.” So, they get a little bit of a heads up where they don’t have to build everything from scratch. And then you need someone who can make connections. I tell everyone that I mentor, if I don’t have all the expertise you need, let me help you find a strong support to put around you, because it will help you move faster.
Griffin: And what do you tell them about giving back?
Valdes: It’s very important to have a giving back mentality in any company today, because today’s workforce demands it. Millennials and Gen Z are more socially focused generations than those that came before them but are the majority of the workforce. We have a diversity and inclusion committee and a culture committee made up of volunteers from across our organization. We are a founding member of Baltimore Tracks, a coalition of Baltimore-based technology & tech-enabled company leaders that are committed to increasing opportunities for People of Color in technology. We also encourage giving back through company sponsored volunteer days (pre-COVID) and virtually through our corporate rewards program. One recent example is a number of our employees in Austin just went through the deep freeze that happened in Texas. We found charities that were helping people who lost power, who had flooding in their homes, or didn’t have access to shelter, and we empowered our employees to easily donate into the community through our rewards program. That went a really long way for our employees. It showed that we cared about their situation and gave them the ability to give back. So, we always encourage that mentality.
Original Post: forbes.com
MDR services and managing cybersecurity within your business | Carousel Industries
No matter the size, industry, or location, nearly every company today has a cybersecurity strategy. But there are many methodologies your organization can use to protect its digital assets and determining the right approach for your business means balancing your desired cybersecurity posture against your resource availability of staff and money.
Given the evolving threat landscape, reputation damage and financial harm that can result from a security incident, midsize organizations often struggle to determine how to implement an effective cybersecurity strategy while still being cost efficient.
We regularly work with clients who have these same questions. Through our years of experience building out a team of highly skilled cybersecurity experts, we’ve seen first-hand how demanding it can be—from both the cost and headcount standpoints—to develop and maintain an internal MDR. To help illustrate why expenses mount so quickly and how time-consuming the work conducted by a cybersecurity team really is, we’re launching a series of blog posts that dive into the details.
What does an effective cybersecurity team look like?
It’s important to understand the four distinct disciplines or roles that typically form the core of any skilled cybersecurity team.
Governance, risk management, and compliance
This function is sometimes part of the IT department but more often it’s a component within the risk management team. The role focuses on internal audit and third-party risk management functions and likely has a direct reporting line to the CISO when part of the IT team.
Threat detection and incident response are at the heart of the threat management team, encompassing 24/7 monitoring of the company’s assets with risk mitigation related to attacks and security breaches. This group leverages a complex set of tools, which are necessary for not only monitoring but also analysis, forensic investigations, attack mitigation, breach containment, and remediation.
SecOps utilizes tools that are core to the protection of the organization’s assets and the team’s responsibilities range across applications, endpoints, identity, edge, network, monitoring on compliance, management, and DevOps. The SecOps role focuses on the health, care, and feeding of the tools and platforms used to accomplish their tasks and ensuring activities are in alignment with best practices.
In order to remain compliant with evolving regulatory standards and maintain parity with the constantly changing threat landscape, an organization must continuously re-assess and update its tools and technologies. The group managing the company’s digital transformation efforts needs to have a strategy and long-term plans to ensure new implementations align with the organization’s use cases and requirements over time.
Looking at the math of cybersecurity
Of the four core areas described above, threat management and SecOps are the most resource intensive and expensive components of a cybersecurity program. Threat management is complex and difficult, and it doesn’t scale down well. Minimum viable coverage 24/7 across the various key areas—threat monitoring, threat research and hunting, pen testing, content development, attack simulation, and incident response among them—typically requires at least 15-20 people based on deep research conducted as part of a master’s dissertation focused exclusively on the topic. That level of coverage provides only a single resource in each of the senior roles and doesn’t allow for redundancy. An effective, properly staffed threat management function is nearly impossible to accomplish without a hefty budget available to launch and sustain operations. Attaining similar coverage within a SOC operation is equally prohibitive, requiring more than two dozen individuals with highly targeted skills and expertise.
There are relationships between spend levels and security postures that are relatively similar throughout the SME space. Looking across the available reports, mid-market companies report their IT budgets are typically about 7% of revenue. From there, SMEs say they spend an average of between 10% and 15% of their total IT budget on security. Depending on the organization and its industry, cybersecurity spend can reach 25% of the overall IT budget.
From there, the math reveals just how difficult it is for SMEs to staff and fund a high-performing cybersecurity team completely within their own organization. Using the minimum resource count of 15 people and an average blended rate of $100,000 per headcount, the threat management salary bill alone could tally $1.5 million per year. Assuming the business has 25% of the IT budget available to use for cybersecurity—and also assuming the technology stack would only cost about double the salary bill—then the annual revenue of the organization needs to top $250 million to make an all-internal cybersecurity architecture financially feasible. Utilization rates and other factors may still render it undesirable from a monetary standpoint, potentially even having a negative ROI if the minimum viable requirements fall short of meeting the company’s needs.
Creating the right cybersecurity architecture
So how can midsize firms develop a cybersecurity strategy that blends key internal headcount resources with the right level of external expertise? How can your business keep costs reasonable without sacrificing quality, either in the skills or technology available to protect the organization’s systems and data assets?
There are strong business justifications for maintaining some services in-house and equally important use cases that point to cost-effective outsourcing for other functions. A carefully constructed blend of internal headcount and external expertise provides the monitoring, detection, and response capabilities you need with a financial commitment that fits your budget. The assessments of where those functions are best positioned are covered in more detail in the next post in our cybersecurity series to help you find the right balance for your organization.
Business Of One: Collective Gathers $20M For Self-Employed Financial Services
Subscription-based back-office platform Collective returns with another round of funding, this time a $20 million Series A supported by returning players and a group of new and notable backers.
The new funding comes eight months after the San Francisco-based company raised $8.65 million in seed investment. Its platform provides “businesses of one” with tailored financial services, including access to trusted advisers who oversee accounting, tax, bookkeeping and business formation needs.
“It has been a tremendous period of growth since our seed round,” CEO Hooman Radfar told Crunchbase News. “We’ve had 20,000 members join the waitlist and experienced 8x to 9x growth since that point in membership. We are saving people in businesses of one $16,000 per year and helping them become self-employed.”
General Catalyst is again leading the new round and was joined by Ashton Kutcher, via Sound Ventures, as well as existing investors Expa, QED Investors and Gradient Ventures. Other notable investors include Steve Chen, Hamish McKenzie, Aaron Levie, Kevin Lin, Sam Yam, Li Jin, Shadiah Sigala, Adrian Aoun, Holly Liu, Andrew Dudum and Edward Hartman. This round brings Collective’s total funding to $28.65 million, according to Crunchbase data.
Radfar, along with co-founders Ugur Kaner and Bugra Akcay, launched Collective in September 2020 to go after 59 million self-employed workers in the U.S. who balance administrative tasks with building their business. That number is projected to be 86.5 million by 2027.
The company saw its revenue grow by more than 250 percent in the past year. As such, Radfar intends to invest the new funding in scaling the business, the automation roadmap and new hires.
“We are thinking about our members first and on making them successful,” he added. “We will expand our team to handle the demand and get people off of the waitlist. We continue to make investments in automation, including quarterly tax estimates, and you can also speak with someone from Collective to help you do your taxes.”
Once the tax season is closed out in June, Collective will focus on building on its team of 30, Radfar said. He is currently looking to bring in a person to partner with him on recruiting and developing the talent Collective already has, as well as seek out operations and product technology.
Meanwhile, Niko Bonatsos, managing director of General Catalyst, said the future of the self-employed space will involve earning the trust of individuals, and he believes that Collective has a good foundation there, as well as a strong market fit and team.
“When you have that trust, you can then begin to layer other services, such as benefits and insurance,” he said in an interview. “We felt Collective could emerge as a category-defining company as millions of people are forming businesses of one. More startups are getting incorporated than ever before during the pandemic, so we are on the right side of history.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman
He Built A $2 Billion Business By Creating A SaaS Platform That Powers Banking Services
Eugene Danilkis has raised close to $175M to reengineer how financial and banking services are designed and delivered.
During our interview on the Dealmakers Show Danilkis shared his adventures into entrepreneurship, his perspective on taking risks, fundraising and growing as a startup CEO.
Travel & New Perspectives On Risk
Eugene Danilkis was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He didn’t know why his parents were teaching him English when he was still barely learning to speak their native Russian language. It wasn’t until they hopped on a train to leave the country when he was just seven years old that it all made sense to him.
After spending six months in Italy, they finally arrived in Canada, where he spent most of his early life growing up in Vancouver.
He says being thrown into a new culture and language actually motivated him to learn, and as quickly as possible. Partially for survival, but also to thrive, and because so many benefits came from it.
This big transition also gave Eugene a whole new perspective on risk. He saw the big risk his parents took moving their family halfway across the world to a completely new environment. When it came to thinking about entrepreneurship he realized that any potential downsides would be trivial compared to the risks his parents had taken to bring him so far already. He knew what hard was, and he wasn’t afraid of failing at work.
He also credits his parents with offering tremendous support and encouraging him to go above and beyond in applying himself to his studies. That helped him excel in math and computer science.
After college he landed a job writing software that would be used by NASA on the International Space Station
After college he landed a job with the Canadian Space Agency, writing software for NASA satellites.
That experience again set the bar pretty high for what could keep him engaged and interested. Pursuing his Master’s degree seemed like a new challenge worthy of taking on. Even more so when the opportunity arose to get his degree in the US at Carnegie Mellon.
It would be an exciting new adventure to embrace. One with more travel and learning ahead. A chance to start from scratch and explore. So, he gave up his apartment, got rid of his furniture, and got ready to take off with just what he could carry in suitcases.
That program ended up taking him to even more countries, including Portugal, Germany and Netherlands. A lot of the time was also spent working on banking software for a corporate sponsor.
Venturing Into Entrepreneurship
During this program Eugene and his co-founders learned a lot about the world of banking and finance. They saw a great opportunity to innovate and build on the technology side, and to have a big impact. They could see this huge trend happening. This was their chance to ride that wave.
So, again he leaped into a new adventure. Making that leap, and giving up a job, salary, and moving to a new place is what keeps most people stagnant, and on the sidelines.
From his experiences growing up, Eugene says there really was no downside. He could always go back and get a job if he really wanted to. In the worst-case scenario, at least he would get the chance to learn a lot. It was all upside potential.
So, again he leapt into a new adventure. And together they started Mambu.
They spent the first year bootstrapping and figuring out exactly what they were building.
The two of them used consulting and software development to pay the bills and keep their exploratory work running. They built a prototype and then found the backing of some angel investors. That made it real for them. Though it would still be several years before they really made it big.
In fact, looking back and considering his top advice for starting a business with this hindsight, he says he would spend less time trying to convince customers and investors of what they had built already and put more emphasis on transparently iterating and building customized solutions along with their paying customers and shareholders.
Eugene describes Mambu as a SaaS platform for banking like Salesforce is to CRM. The back-office system for banks, lenders, and other fintech businesses to design and manage how their products work. It is an accelerating space in which he sayshas infinite evolutions as consumers and products change in the future.
To date, they have raised $175 million at a $2 billion valuation.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Eugene Danilkis was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Establishing Clarity & Focus
Some of the great takeaways from this podcast episode were how this entrepreneur approaches board meetings and his own evolving role as a founding CEO.
He describes being more intentional and how taking the time to be more clear about the priorities ahead can make a lot of difference in working with your board, and also ensuring you are doing a good job, at the right level as a leader.
For example, clearly and explicitly laying out your own job description with your cofounders each year, as your business evolves. As well as using that same clarity with your board to get the best advice from them, and the most out of your interactions with them.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- The keys to surviving lean times to get through to the flush times in your business
- How fundraising changes as you progress through funding rounds
- How big the banking services space is
The post He Built A $2 Billion Business By Creating A SaaS Platform That Powers Banking Services appeared first on Alejandro Cremades.
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