It’s not often that you get an opportunity to speak to the two most exciting HealthTech startups in Australia. We had the chance to talk to Tim Doyle (Founder/CEO of Eucalyptus) and Tom Kelly (Founder/CEO of Oscer.ai) and boy did it pay dividends. Here are the 3 biggest learnings that we had in our chat with Tim and Tom:
‘The returns for taking asymmetric bets… in your 20s are enormous.’ — Tim
Joining an early-stage startup is harder than your corporate equivalent. The problems are harder, there’s less resources and you’re fighting the status quo. In order to execute and frankly, in order to survive, you need to operate at a higher level — you need to grow.
Even classically elite institutions, whilst a great training ground for fresh grads, have a ceiling on their learning.
‘The first two years is a really practical education — they learn a lot, they are a lot better for that experience and are a lot more well-rounded for that experience. But, the one’s that spend 1–2 years there are no better than the ones that spend 3–4 years.’ — Tim (on McKinsey)
You need to be hyper-focused on where you’re sitting in the learning curve. As soon as you you feel that you’re not growing fast enough, it’s time to find the next challenge.
‘All learning is a log curve… over time, unless you’re making some gigantic shift in the organisation which is pretty rare, the level of learning just tails out.’ — Tom
So to the soon-to-be grads, steer clear of logo hunting. Look for challenging opportunities that’ll better you, sit in the steepest part of the learning curve and move on when your learning plateaus.
Specialists vs Generalists
“Underpriced in the modern ‘be-able-to-do-everything environment’ is the ability to do one thing better than most people and being able to leverage that into doing other things.” — Tim
When you’re good in one aspect of the business, it compensates for other facets. Not every dimension of the business needs to be executing perfectly (at least not to begin with) for the business to work as whole.
“When I was trying to learn stuff in the early days of Eucalyptus, the way I got a margin of safety on learning those things is by being really good at the one thing I knew how to do well.” — Tim
In Tim’s case, he’s nailed marketing. He’s created a company that’s able to rollout healthcare brands on the same marketing playbook. In Tom’s case, he’s a technical wizard. He can navigate the inherent technical challenges that come with AI powered products.
But as Tom puts it, there’s a time for generalists, especially when it comes to the inward facing responsibilities of a founder/CEO. When you’re forced to take on a dozen responsibilities in the early days of your business, it gives you an appreciation of those aspects of the business and its associated roles.
Having the cross-section across everything, I think I can have deep empathy to the most granular level to what every person at the company is most likely to do… so when it comes to hiring, inspiring and understanding good work product, I have a good sense for that. — Tom
Moral of the story — internally, it’s great to be a generalist to get a better understanding of what roles within the company look like. This way you can hire, inspire and admire great talent. Externally, it’s going to be your specialist skillset that makes you stand out amongst the noise to consumers.
MVPs are Overrated
Because we had come out of a previously successful startup… we raised money on the idea alone. — Tim
When you have the track record of startup success and the network of VCs and investors, there is less and less need for product validation. It seems like the traditional ‘lean startup’ teaching of testing with an MVP isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.
The testing process for seed stage companies is probably slightly overrated… Conviction on your initial product is probably more important than your hacky MVP that has classically dominated the lean startup method. — Tim
But, the narrative changes when the founding story is a bit atypical. In Tom’s case, his background as a medical doctor and limited experience with venture-backed businesses meant that there needed to be a bit more product validation before getting VC engagement.
Key message — seriously think about the need to develop an MVP considering your experience and network. With more money circulating in pre-seed/seed rounds, building an MVP might just delay time-to-capital and time-to-scaling.
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