Apparently, Zocdoc is doing something right. Their early investors are a ‘Who’s Who’ list of innovators and billionaires, including Marc Benioff, Founder’s Fund, Khosla Ventures, Bezos Expeditions, and Goldman Sachs.
Zocdoc is an innovative medical care startup that solves a nasty problem we all face—scheduling an appointment with a new doctor. Their mission is to make patients’ lives easier by helping them easily receive high-quality medical attention.
Along with two other co-founders, Oliver Kharraz left the posh world of strategy consulting (McKinsey) and set out to solve a problem that had been nagging him—and millions of other patients for decades—the dread and hassle of booking a new doctor appointment. “How could something that should be so easy cause so much frustration,” Kharraz asked himself? And so Oliver’s leadership journey began.
From the very beginning, Zocdoc’s number one asset has always been its corporate culture. “Patients first” is Zocdoc’s number one core value that influences every single strategic and operational decision. It’s a decision that has resonated with their customers, suppliers, and investors. Zocdoc’s values are the foundation upon which the company’s entire culture is built.
Join the discussion. In your view, what does it really mean to put ‘patients first’? Do you agree with Zocdoc’s mission and core values?
Like virtually all entrepreneurs seeking to gain momentum for a new startup, the Zocdoc founders had to practice a few techniques they don’t teach at Harvard Business School, or at McKinsey for that matter. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? After all, you can’t snap your fingers and magically create a fully populated medical platform that successfully matches patients to the right doctors. You have to systematically build momentum.
On the one hand, the Zocdoc founders had to convince doctors to abandon tradition and start using a new, unproven technological platform to sign up new patients. It seemed obvious to Oliver. Why wouldn’t doctors want to back-fill cancellations, keep a full schedule, help more patients, and make more money?
But doctors hate change. And before a critical mass of doctors would even think about signing up for the service, Zocdoc had to prove it could enlist new patients. Why would doctors sign up if there weren’t patients? Again, it’s a classic chicken and egg dilemma faced by countless entrepreneurs trying to change the world.
Cutting to the chase, Zocdoc’s hard work and sales pitch paid off. The company built early momentum, achieved critical mass, and then began to realize network effects as more suppliers (doctors) and buyers (patients) joined the platform. The business started booming. Indeed, Doctor Kharraz, M.D., made a wonderful, values-based leader, after all.
In Oliver’s mind, even more important than scaling the user base and technological platform, was ensuring the company’s culture and value system scaled too. There is no other founder who cares more deeply than sustaining the company’s core values and culture as much as Oliver.