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What Makes NexHealth’s Culture Special with Bobby Jones

Welcome to "How I Grew My Practice," a podcast by NexHealth. In this episode, we have special guest Robert (Bobby) Jones, NexHealth's first employee. Bobby played a crucial role in building departments and currently focuses on partnerships and API integrations. Join us as we explore Bobby's journey, NexHealth's mission, his growth within the organization, and the unique qualities that make NexHealth a healthcare technology revolutionizer.

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Alec Goldman (00:32:00): Welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a podcast presented by NexHealth. I'm your host Alec. In this episode, we have NexHealth's first employee joining us. He's been responsible for helping build out sales, customer success, marketing, currently working on our partnerships and API. The man who does it all, no task too small, Mr. Bobby Jones. Bobby, what up? How you doing? So most folks probably do not know who Bobby Jones is. Again, being the first employee of a company valued at a billion dollars is not a small thing. So Bobby, can you give us a little bit of your background? Who are you? How'd you meet Al? How'd you land at NexHealth?
Bobby Jones (01:34.385): Yeah, very, very good question. Let me start from the top. So I was actually freshly off of an MBA. I was actually still finishing my final semester of college. I was in the process of finalizing my thesis. And I kind of found that I wanted to join a company as an early hire. I wanted to help build something off the ground, particularly in healthcare tech and actually particularly in SAS. I actually found Al in Excel through an article online and through AngelList. And I actually just reached out cold and I had a few conversations with Al throughout this final semester that I was in. And I was actually in California considering a job in out there when I got a call from Al. And he basically gave me like 48 hours to be in New York to start. It was no joke. It was a Friday afternoon. It was like, all right. Let's do this. Can you be in New York City on Monday? At that point, I said yes. I got on a plane back to DC, packed up a couple bags and took a train to New York City. And I honestly was living on a former roommate's couch, former college roommate's couch for a couple of weeks until I found a place. That's how it started. I think to give a little more context there, like grew up in a very entrepreneurial environment, knew that's what I wanted to do. Um, so it's finding the right person, finding the right company. But at that point, like I was 23, I didn't know exactly what I was doing. Had some conversations and to be frank, like on the surface, Al and I came from very different backgrounds. Um, but instantly gelled instantly default trust was there. Something we'll get to in a little bit, but that's how it started. Um, and from there, we just kind of started running.
Alec Goldman (03:27.966): So it's not every day that you kind of blindly follow another young 23, 24 year old and now the CEO of NexHealth. What were a couple of the characteristics that made you so confident in joining a company that had zero revenue, zero cut?
Bobby Jones (03:50.293): Yeah. That's a great question. I think. I think one thing first actually is something that I realized early on. It's like first employees, like often similarly founders, like you find yourself doing jobs that you've never done before, which can be a blessing. It can also be a curse. And I'm like incredibly lucky to be in that position and have put myself in that position. Thinking about that, that was kind of like what I wanted. So when getting into this, not necessarily when I was getting into thinking about these traits, a lot of it was this vision. I know it sounds weird and I know it sounds, a lot of people think about this broader vision of NexHealth and this mission of NexHealth. We're still taking innovation in healthcare. A lot of this coming back to our synchronizer, building around proprietary integrations into EHR systems. Um, that was part of the plan since the beginning. And I think a lot of people think that it took some time for us to develop that vision. Um, and I saw that now, uh, it was like a blind trust in the beginning and hear him speak to it to the point that it was kind of like, I'm in, I want to run full speed at this. Like, tell me what I need to do. Tell me what I need to execute on. Um, and it's pretty incredible, like six years of working on a mission and like truly starting to see it come to fruition. Like have not lost it as we've scaled, have we reached a billion-dollar valuation, have we reached 300 plus employees? Um, I don't think that perfectly answers your question, but. It was, it was legitimately the vision that was in place. And I think a lot of people don't realize that, that it's been there from the beginning. We didn't just start as this product that we were selling into dental offices with the idea to grow to this large company. Like did have a deliberate plan with it. Didn't know exactly how we're going to get there. But I saw that now early on. And, and I think to, to bring back to my earlier comment, like, I kind of wanted to be in that position. I definitely wanted to be in that position. Not kind of, where I had not done this before. It's constantly changing and it wasn't clearly defined. But there was an end result, there was an end goal that I was actually passionate about. I think going back to even what I said earlier when I was in school, and I had an idea that I wanted to work on something that was gonna be impactful on society whether it was like small or large. And I know that's kind of like a cliche thing to say, but that was part of it. And a lot of it was coming together in those early conversations with Al and part of it was like. And I was young, I didn't know exactly what I was going to do, but I wanted to sink my teeth into something. So I hope that answers it well.
Alec Goldman (06:36.522): Yeah. I mean, maybe there's a little bit of ignorance is bliss, but I mean, even in my, even in my, and I've been here now for a year and change and it just like, you know, his tenacity and vision alone, um, knowing exactly where you want to run and having a lot of sheer speed to, to get to that destination, I think is kind of come through in a lot of the company's culture. Um, yeah.
Bobby Jones (06:40.622): Absolutely. Just doesn't take now and I think I saw that early on and it was like this is something that I can like ride with like let's go do this so yeah
Alec Goldman (07:07.39): Yeah, no doubt. And you feel it here every single day. So I guess kind of just going further into our culture and maybe a little bit more about Al and what Al's influence has been over the last six, seven years building this company. But to you, what makes NexHealth, NexHealth?
Bobby Jones (07:25.601): Yeah. So I think I have a little different perspective, which is why we're having this conversation. But a lot of it comes down to our culture and operating principles, which I'm going to speak to. But I think a lot of what makes NexHealth, NexHealth to me and speaking this from a first from a first employee perspective, like it's ever-changing. And I mentioned earlier, like it really is a privilege to learn so quickly. Like there's no quickly quicker way to learn. There's trial by fire. We definitely made a lot of blunders in the early days and like later days as well. Um, and like growing up from this, you know, kind of like picking your head up and being like having this realization of been building, been operating so devoutly, like kind of in this bubble for the last six years. Um, and having this changing environment. So when I think about what makes it NexHealth, NexHealth to me, that's certainly part of it. I think, you know, our culture though, like the success in the early days came from us literally willing things into existence like day after day for like three years. And that means like doing things others are not willing to do. That's a key operating principle of ours. And I think that just like, these things came organically, um, taking full ownership here and like doing actual things others are not willing to do, whether you, whether you think of it from a, from a higher level of our mission of facilitating innovation, um, by breaking down these barriers, by building our own proprietary integrations into the medical electronic medical record systems. Um, but if you actually take it down to, uh, you know, a little bit of a lower level, um, whether it's, you know, going and doing physical installs, calling, talking to pretty much every, every dentist in New York city for the first six months, trying to build a product. Like a lot of things that we were doing were just, nobody else was doing it. And we realized it was what we had to do to build a product, to build our own integrations, um, and just go to market. So those are a few things. It's really interesting to look back on some of the early days and some of the early things that we do, had done, and you think about our operating principles that we that we live by today, like they all came from that. They all came from the early days, they came from what we were doing, whether it was... things like obviously solving the customer's problems first, like not yours. Like I think we're a very customer-obsessed company. We always have been. It's a differentiator of ours in the industry that we play in. I think the biggest thing though, and I hit on this at the beginning is like default trust. Like I had default trust since the beginning and he thankfully had default trust in me from the beginning. He was able to let me run and let me go up for opportunities and let me figure a lot of things out early on. The God is here. So that's a big one for me, but it's, it, to me, a lot of them come together. Yeah, they're individual operating principles, but a lot of them do come together. But yeah, I think ownership too, which plays into this, but being able to push the envelope, being able to bring ideas to the table that like we could legitimately execute on, I think, you know, when you adhere to process for so long, or do things like how they've always been done. Like that's where things fail and that's where you don't capitalize on opportunities and that's what we had always done differently. So yeah.
Alec Goldman (11:11.042): So given that you've been here for six years, I mean, you've obviously not only have seen the culture document put together more so recently, I guess in the last year, but to your point, you really felt those operating principles come to life over six years. Are there, is there a few, or can you share one specific story from really early on that you think kind of like really indicates what NexHealth is all about?
Bobby Jones (11:36.817): Yeah, I have a couple. There's a lot of funny ones too. We might have to do another episode on this, especially some of these fundraising stories. But yeah, I think a really pivotal one for Max Health and even just like personally, this is very much a personal one, is when we ran out of money. We ran out of money in early 2018. And when I say we ran out of money, we legitimately had two weeks left of run-away.
Alec Goldman (11:43.019): Now we'll get you back.
Bobby Jones (12:06.289): Um, like we were at the point of the company where. Like paychecks weren't really a thing for a little while. Um, and basically what happened was there were four of us. It was Al Waleed, myself and, um, customer success manager onboarding. And our largest, we were out of, we were basically about to run out of money. Our largest customer at the time, I was an enterprise customer, it was multi-location group. And you know, we had them on a month-to-month contract. We had to go out and fly out, go see them middle of the winter, not a great place to go and convince them to pay us upfront for the year and pay us annually. And that bought us about three more months of time. And if you actually look at the trajectory of NexHealth, if you look at the trajectory of our revenue, if you look at the trajectory of our customer base, like that was a turning point. That was a turning point for us. We went out there. We convinced this customer of ours to pay us annually for the year, pay us annually, pay us in front and bought us about three more months of time to really go, to really go to market. Like that was it. That was the last chance. That was the last shot. Um, I remember like the board meeting that, that month as well. It was, it was grim. It was very grim. Um, and it was like, all right, this is our last shot. Let's go do this. And we're still here today.
Alec Goldman (13:34.806): Yeah, there's a lot of do the things others are not willing to do mentality just even from that. Can you share another one? I know that there is a story kind of like how did NexHealth get through COVID? Go ahead.
Bobby Jones (13:48.153): Yeah. Yeah, I have two interesting things there. I think one, like when COVID hit, we like went on the offense. I feel like a lot of companies were not like good to their customers when COVID hit. For example, we did, we paused billing for all of our customers. And we were actively going after and bringing on more customers. I will say when COVID first hit, it was probably the busiest I've ever been in my life working in NexHealth. And we were actively on the offense. We stopped billing all of our customers who went out and we were bringing on many more customers and it's because of what we were doing. And it's because of, you know, there's definitely looking at what we do and where the environment was, like a lot of what we were doing played into that. But ultimately, pausing billing for all of our customers, making a pivot, going aggressively after more customers and not charging them, we did not bill during COVID to net new customers either for. Like a six month period. So in addition to that, I think that's something, like that's a good story. There's a lot more that goes into that. That was kind of a reaction to COVID, but more specifically, we acquired a company during COVID. I would say it was like peak pandemic. We were also just a series A company. We had closed a series A at this point. We were not that large, not that far along. We actually made an acquisition of a digital forms company that is now a great product of ours and it started from a partnership. We've been partnered with them for a while. But this was crazy. Like everyone from our investors, from our investors to everyone outside of it, like thought this was insane. Like why would you go acquire a company that are the same size of us? But it was like a very important tool, it was a very important product. It was very important for our market and actually what we were doing, giving the time of COVID and also to the day. So I think like lesson there was problem solving. And it was also challenging a lot of status quo. Why would you go acquire a company that's gonna do this? Or why would you go acquire a company given your size, given the environment, given the pandemic? It was actually like the complete opposite of what everyone else, everyone's telling us to do. And it turned out to be one of the best moves that we made.
Alec Goldman (16:26.55): That's awesome. The way that startups work and it sounds, you know, given your six years, it starts off extremely turbulent. There's no set process for anything. It's sheer grit, the problem right in front of you, solve it, move on to the next. And again, it's kind of that idea of no task is too small. You end up getting to a series A, series B. At what point in time did you think, wow, this company is really moving and grooving? Is there a point in time or a story that you have where you're like, wow, like things are pretty stable and we're actually starting to see a point of scale.
Bobby Jones (17:13.229): I think more recently it's definitely it's been very interesting. I know I kind of said it earlier like you know you're working so diligently on something and like yeah you're moving roles you're moving across different projects different initiatives like everything is changing every three months something's changing. I think given the position I was in like that was just inevitable and it's how it goes. But like where, and I guess like kind of, you know, pick my head up more recently. And it's like, holy shit, like this is what we've been building the last five to six years, here we are. And a lot of it has been in the last like 12 months. And it's not that we're at a perfect, in a perfect place and everything's so stable, nothing is ever gonna be that way. And it was never that way in the beginning. I think part of it was like early on, like ignorance, like it was...
a lot of fun and it still is a lot of fun, but at the time early on, it's just like, day by day, like what's it gonna be today? What's the next thing that we're working on? So when I think about getting to a more stable place, I do think about where we're at today. I think about the leadership team that we have in place. I think about the operations that we have in place. I think about the operating principles that we have in place and how, as we've grown, we've never really lost this vision that we've had. We've never really lost this mentality that we have. And I think that's something from early on being like, was super important to me and saying like once we get to a certain scale, like we're going to start to lose these things. And it's like, no, like this is how we get to that scale. This is how we continue to grow as we, we abide by these operating principles and we do what we've always done. But when I think about like getting to a certain point where, where it's comfortable, like I just don't think that's ever going to happen. And maybe that's my position that I'm in as a company. Yes. But I don't think I've ever been in a position in, in my six years where I've personally looked and say like, okay, this is where I could get comfortable. And I or okay, I've done this before. And I think that's kind of the beauty of this. And part of it's with the position that I'm in part of it is how long I've been here. But I guess on the other side, like I've always felt comfortable with the uncomfortable, you know, where we're going, what we're doing. It was never like this isn't gonna happen, it was always a matter of when. It's why I kind of relate to earlier in this conversation of like, what got me interested in ex-health? Like why Al? He is so hell bent on making this happen and he has and has been since the beginning that it's like, it was always going to happen. I think it was a matter of when and it's obviously a matter of how, but yeah, I think that is kind of a circle that I just put out there, but I hope that helps.
Alec Goldman (20:32.918): Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's really incredible to see kind of the entire company rally together. Even when we're pivoting and changing small moments, even recently when we kind of announced, or we'll be hopefully announcing soon, just like what we're doing with our suite of products and simplifying on a go-to-market perspective and how that's happening on the product and engineering side of the room. So I think it's a huge testament to our leadership, you know, specifically with, you know, Alex.
Bobby Jones (21:00.593): Yeah, I think like one other thing that I just like learned very early on and like talking about things that like doing things others won't. Like in a startup and early on, like you literally just have to assume nothing's gonna happen unless you're like all over it, you're all over everybody and you're all over everything or like, I'll say like likely nothing's gonna happen. And I think that's how we've always operated. I know this isn't necessarily your question, but just another point there.
Alec Goldman (21:36.398): A lot of ownership. I mean, listen, there's specifically at a startup, there's nowhere to hide. So everybody's gotta be doing the job of, typically two, three people. And that's the only way to stand out.
Bobby Jones (21:37.695): Yeah. Yeah, Al used to, you know, a lot of our early customers in the New York area, New York City, like this is a good story. He, we had this, we had an EMR integration we were looking to build and there was this doctor out in Queens, super old office, but was using the system. We really wanted access to the system. We really wanted to build this out. It took a lot of time building a relationship with this doctor. And Al was doing the installs here. He was gonna go to the install in person. So it's exactly what you're saying. Our CEO was going out to do an install at this office. The only time he could do it was a Sunday morning. Absolutely threw Al under the bus on this. It's like, yep, we can absolutely be there. We can do it To my surprise Al gets up Super early on a Sunday morning and not like Al to do that goes out there meets with this doctor ends up building the integration ends up doing the install like That that was a pretty cool moment and that was something that would happen over and over again you know, we'd be on the phone with an office and they'd be like great, let's do this, can you come and do this? And we would get on the subway and go to their office and figure it out. And this was before we necessarily knew what we were doing, had built out the product yet. So there's a lot of stories like that. There's a lot of stories of pretty much just doing whatever the hell you had to do to get the job done because there was no other option.
Alec Goldman (23:23.85): Yeah, I think it's really about living in the details. I mean, being an early employee, whether that's Al or yourself, you'll be responsible for launching the customer, training them on the product. We'll give feedback. And then the response from a Bobby or Al is, I have some feedback. And the response is, oh, I'll tell the product manager. It's like, well, I have a bug. Oh, I'll tell the support person. And those are all the same person, right? That's all just Bobby or Al.
Bobby Jones (23:46.301): Yeah.
Alec Goldman (23:50.422): Because there's just no one else, right? So you put on this mask, and the company might be a little bit larger, but the truth is that you have one or two people who are operating the size of a 10 person company.
Bobby Jones (23:59.345): Yeah, I think exactly. Like you have to be a generalist, a generalist, succeed there. Obviously when companies get to a certain point, like special, being a specialist, specializing is important, but when it comes to being like a very successful contributor early on, like you have to generalize. In the early days, like you're not going to get, or just in general, like there's a single person that's going to qualify to lead, schedule them for a demo, demo them, sell them, sign them up, lead implementation, provide product support. Like, now we don't have seven people to do that, we had one, and that's how it was for a very long time.
Alec Goldman (24:42.638): So you're now working on partnerships in the API. Again, you've been here for six years. Obviously, the vision is something that excites you, but what's something specific in your day-to-day that's really getting you excited about NexHealth today?
Bobby Jones (24:57.949): Yeah, I'm like thrilled to be focusing on this now. And to be honest, it's something I spent a good amount of time on two and a half, three years ago, but we weren't really there yet of going to market with this product, our synchronizer API. The coolest part to me is, you know, dealing with a lot of these companies, a lot of these other startups, a lot of these developers, even in the early days where they might still be in school dealing with someone like that, who's a senior in college looking to build a product to publicly traded companies and actually helping them build a product, helping them go to market and helping them do it with our technology. It is the epitome of our vision. And I think that's what's amazing. When I think about day to day, when I think about what I'm doing and I'm working on, that's it. And that ties into the broader mission here. And that's why I say like, there's a lot of things that we've worked on the last six years, six plus years, you know, and it all relates back to our mission. And like now a lot of it's really truly starting to come to fruition. And you're seeing, you all are starting to see a lot more of that now. But that's what's exciting to me. Like I, it's what I love to do. It's what I love about NexHealth.
Alec Goldman (26:22.254): So Bobby, we're coming up here at time. Want to make sure, do you have any final thoughts on this episode? Obviously, I'm sure we'll get you back on the show. But want to make sure that you have an opportunity to share any last thoughts for today's episode.
Bobby Jones (26:35.771): Yeah, I just think about, you know, our operating principles, I think, embracing this change on a day-to-day basis versus dreading it is like a really important, important note that I'd make. It's something that makes NexHealth NexHealth. But no, I don't have anything in particular.
Alec Goldman (27:11.214): I should be really proud. Being a first boy is freaking impossible. And NexHealth has really turned into something pretty wild.
Bobby Jones (27:16.076): Ah, haha. Yeah, now it's a privilege. I think that's what I'd actually leave it with being able to join early, being the first employee here, like it's a privilege. Like I know there's a lot of blood, there's a lot of sweat and tears that went into this. And like I said, like you find yourself doing a job that you've never done before constantly, and like it's a blessing, it's a curse. And like personally, like I'm incredibly lucky to be able to find out, to be able to find NexHealth and be put in this position and have that trust.
Bobby Jones (27:56.233): Um, so yeah, it's a privilege. And I, and I would say like being able to learn quickly, like you just got to throw yourself into it and that's how you do it.
Alec Goldman (28:05.974): Right on. I'd say it's earned. Everybody, Bobby Jones, Bobby, thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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Welcome to "How I Grew My Practice," a podcast presented by NexHealth. In this episode, we have a special guest joining us: Robert (Bobby) Jones, the first employee of NexHealth. Bobby has played an instrumental role in building the sales, customer success, and marketing departments. Currently, he is focused on developing partnerships and API integrations.

But how did Bobby get to where he is today? In this episode, we'll explore what attracted Bobby to NexHealth, delve into the company's mission, trace Bobby's growth within the organization, and uncover the unique qualities that set NexHealth apart in this path of revolutionizing healthcare technology.

A Decision to Join NexHealth

When we asked Bobby about the characteristics that led him to join NexHealth, Bobby highlights the appeal of being a first employee and the opportunity it presented for personal and professional growth. He emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision, which NexHealth possessed from the start, focusing on innovation in healthcare through proprietary integrations into health record systems.

NexHealth's Mission: Innovating Healthcare

Bobby sheds light on NexHealth's mission, which revolves around advancing innovation in the healthcare sector. The company's commitment to integrating seamlessly with health record systems to streamline processes and enhance patient care sets it apart. The early establishment of this mission and the team's dedication to its realization, even as NexHealth grew to a billion-dollar valuation and 300+ employees, showcases the company's unwavering focus.

Bobby's Journey of Growth with NexHealth

As the conversation progresses, Bobby delves into his personal journey within NexHealth. He shares how the company's culture, built on the principles of being customer-obsessed and willing to do what others aren't, has shaped his professional development. He emphasizes the significance of trust and ownership within the organization, allowing him to take on new opportunities and push the boundaries of what's possible.

What Makes NexHealth Unique?

Bobby highlights the culture and operating principles that define NexHealth. He emphasizes the constant evolution and rapid learning that occurs within the company, with employees unafraid to tackle challenges head-on. NexHealth's unique approach involves going above and beyond, breaking down barriers, and building proprietary integrations to ensure customer success. The company's willingness to challenge the status quo and embrace change sets it apart in the industry.

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