Public Health Entrepreneurship Series with the team of ThriveHire, the career platform for global health

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Show Notes

I am so excited to introduce you to today’s episode because it marks the beginning of a mini series of episodes that will be a part of PH SPOTlight: The Entrepreneurship Series. It’s a topic that I am particularly passionate about so I am thrilled to have the opportunity to produce this series. The goal of the entrepreneurship series is to share stories of entrepreneurs in the public health space who are building great products. The hope is that their journeys will inspire you to think about building a product to tackle a public health problem, as well as give you the tools and direction to take your first step, or next step.

In this episode, I sit down with the team at ThriveHire, a company on a mission to build up the global health workforce by profiling organizations and helping connect them to top talent so they can solve the world’s greatest health challenges.

You’ll hear Hayley Mundeva, the founder of ThriveHire, along with Annalise Mathers and Malaika Kapur in our conversation. These three amazing people don’t only share their story with us, but also give us alot of great tips for building a company of our own. 

So, I hope this episode leaves you feeling a bit inspired to think about the problems you are working on, in a new light, a light that includes you as the individual that will build a solution. 

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

-Warren Buffett

And, I must say that it’s not easy finding entrepreneurs focusing on building a business in the public health space, so if you have recommendations of individuals building a business in our space, please do share them with us.

You’ll Learn

  • How the idea for ThriveHire came to be
  • The exact first steps that Hayley (the founder) took to test her idea
  • How Annalise and Malaika became part of ThriveHire, and how Hayley approached them
  • How the team functions, with Hayley being a full time employee of ThriveHire, while Annalise and Malaika are part-time (i.e. after their 9-5 job)
  • What is a social entrepreneur
  • How the team tackled the issue of not having all of the skills needed to build this company
  • What is an incubator program
  • About Hayley’s move to Rwanda for two years

Today’s Guest

Hayley Mundeva

Hayley Mundeva is a Co-Founder and CEO of ThriveHire, an online career and community platform for the Global Health industry. Before this, Hayley worked for 4 years on Global Health research projects in Tanzania, Malawi and Ethiopia. She has 2 degrees in Global Health and is a certified trainer in social entrepreneurship. Despite starting her career in research, Hayley was surprised to find little information on ways to launch and develop a Global Health career. This is what sparked her interest in founding ThriveHire. Since then, Hayley and her team have been working with organizations including the Canadian Red Cross and Save the Children and have been awarded the National Innovation Award by the United Nations Association in Canada and the British Council.

Annalise Mathers

Annalise Mathers is the Research Officer at ThriveHire, an online career platform for the Global Health community. She received her Master of Public Health from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Biomedical Science from the University of Ottawa. Annalise has experience working as a Global Health professional and qualitative researcher in the fields of occupational health and safety, the Sustainable Development Goals, tobacco control, medication management and health ethics. Annalise’s work has been published widely across academic journals, blogs, newspapers, policy reports, and other media. She has a passion for public health journalism and facilitating interdisciplinary learning opportunities.

Malaika Kapur

Malaika has gained startup experience in the health technology ecosystem having done market strategy for a global health medical device startup in Vancouver and more recently supported growth at ThriveHire. She is currently immersed in the Toronto tech community running the education pedagogy portfolio at the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a seed-stage program for massively scalable, science and technology-based companies. With a background in Human Resources and interest in global health, being a part of ThriveHire came as a natural fit. Malaika’s role at ThriveHire has evolved overtime, recently driving online content by profiling organizations, writing blogs and building out a CRM strategy.

Resources

Other PH SPOT resources:

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Episode Transcript

Hayley 0:00
I would honestly say is just get started like don’t- don’t seek perfection just get started and ultimately by, you know, trying to build a, a business, you’re gonna get so many skills along the way.

Annalise 0:13
Anything is possible.

Maleika 0:17
I’m just glad that you know, I really love the saying that, “Brilliance is evenly distributed, opportunities not.” and I- you know what Haley did was like she was extremely resourceful in ensuring that, you know, she gets the puzzle together.

Sujani 0:35
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Hey what’s up everyone, thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva, the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career. I am so excited to introduce you to today’s episode. And this episode is going to be part of a series of episodes that will focus on entrepreneurship. So when we set out to produce this podcast PH SPOTlight, we asked you guys what topics you are interested. And I have to admit that when I was looking over the results, I was surprised when public health entrepreneurship was amongst one of the highest topics. It’s a topic that I’m particularly passionate about so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to produce a series. But I’m gonna be honest here because it’s really difficult to find entrepreneurs in the public health space. So if you have any recommendations, please do send them our way. So what I’m hoping to do with this entrepreneurship series is to share the stories of entrepreneurs in the public health space who are building great products. And I hope their journeys not only inspires you to think about, perhaps, building a product to tackle a public health problem, but that it also gives you tools and perhaps a direction to take your first step. And so as I mentioned, this is the first of our entrepreneurship series, and I’m so excited to bring you this conversation I had with three energetic individuals from the team behind ThriveHire. ThriveHire’s mission is to build up the global health workforce by profiling organizations and helping connect them to top talent. You’ll hear from Haley Mundeva, she is the founder of ThriveHire. And we talk about how she went about taking the first step once she identified a problem. And then how she leveraged the people around her to bring this idea to life. And we’ll hear from these individuals, Annalise and Malaika who are now part of Haley’s team. And to quickly tell you about each of them Haley Mundeva. She is the CEO of ThriveHire. And before this, she worked for four years in global health research projects in Tanzania, Malawi and Ethiopia. And she also has two degrees in global health and as a certified trainer in social entrepreneurship. And this is a term that Haley tells us a bit more about during our conversation. Then we have Annalise. Annalise is the research officer at ThriveHire and her training is also in public health. She has an MPH and she also has experience working as a global health professional and qualitative researcher. Then we have Malaika who comes from a slightly different background and experience. Her experiences are in the startup space, she gained startup experience in the health technology ecosystem, having done market strategy for a Global Health Medical Device startup in Vancouver. And currently, she is immersed in the Toronto tech community. And her training is in human resources. But she certainly has interest in global health and so being part of ThriveHire came as a natural fit. And her role at ThriveHire has evolved over time, which is completely normal when you set out to build a company. But recently, she’s been the one driving online content and building out a CRM strategy. So these three amazing people are not only going to share their story with us, but they’re also going to give us a lot of great tips. And I hope hearing their story makes you think that taking the first initial step and keeping that momentum going is something that you too can do and perhaps even come up with a solution for a problem that you’ve been seeing in the public health space. So here’s a team of ThriveHire.

So when I go and I, you know, go to the “About” section on your website, and I read about ThriveHire, it says that it’s a career platform that’s connecting people to job opportunities in the global health sector. And so that’s a very well defined mission for ThriveHire. But I know that it doesn’t always start like that in the early days. So do you remember when you had that first initial thought or idea or a frustration that you were trying to sort of solve?

Hayley 5:24
Yeah, no, absolutely. So really, the- the origins of ThriveHire, go go back about two, two years or so, Sujani. So, just for context, my background is in global health. So I have a Master’s of Public Health degree. And that’s actually where I met Annalise, who’s sitting with me. And after I graduated, Sujani, I went into global health research projects, where I was evaluating various health issues, particularly in East Africa. So more specifically in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Malawi. So I did that for about four years. But I got about two years into it. And I just kind of realized I couldn’t see myself pursuing academia for the rest of my life, the work is incredibly important. It’s, it’s very rewarding. But just for myself, on an individual level, I just, I just couldn’t see myself doing it, I felt like I needed to get my hands a bit, a bit dirty. And I had to take a step back. And I started asking myself, like what other career opportunities are out there in the global health field, just less of an academic capacity, and I felt really lost. And so at that point, of course, all of this was just starting as just conversations with a lot of my friends and colleagues and mentors. But really, at that point, I, I did the only thing I kind of knew how to do which was, which was research. So this was about two years ago. And at that point, I started sitting down and interviewed a little over 20, global health jobseekers, and also HR directors of various organizations to just understand what were some of their experiences with either trying to find opportunities in global health? Or what were their experiences and challenges when it comes to recruitment and kind of through that eventually, you know, it was this very iterative process that evolves a lot. But eventually, I realized there could be a business solution. And in a lot of ways that was a that was the catalyst to learning ThriveHire.

Sujani 7:20
So did you, right off the bat think, you know, “No, I’m struggling looking for a career in global health. There must be more people out there. So I’m just going to call up a bunch of people that I already know and ask them.”, or did you have to reach out to people out of your circle?

Hayley 7:37
Yeah, I mean, it was a bit of both for sure. I reached out to people in my own circle, like a graduate school was a, an easy starting point. In fact, remember, Annalise, we had that conversation over, over, I think, a phone call. And I remember I was sitting on our phone call, Oh, definitely, I remember where I was sitting in my Toronto apartment. And then I also met and sat down with various job seekers and master students who I met at conferences as well. So I guess it was kind of a typical entrepreneurial thing, where you just use a bunch of different strategies, and you start somewhere.

Sujani 8:10
So what did you- What did you say to these people? Did you just say, “Hey, I’m thinking about starting a business? I’m going to ask you a few question.”, or was it more premature than that? It was just like, “Hey, can I talk to you?”

Hayley 8:21
Yeah, definitely. It was probably more premature than that. I had a, of course, a questionnaire like a little survey that I wanted to ask people, but I tried to not edge them on to anything in particular, like I didn’t go up saying, I have a business idea or anything. So I think it’s very easy for, for people then to put you in a box and all the responses they give you or according to that, rather than, you know, just talking more openly about what some of their challenges were. So I just made it really open ended and said, you know, where do you see yourself going, for instance, what has been your biggest challenges with, you know, developing your career to date? And yeah, I just, I guess, made it very exploratory.

Sujani 8:59
And I guess you’re joined today with two of your founding members, Annalise and Malaika and I heard you mentioned Annalise’s name a few times. So maybe we’ll turn the table to Annalise and ask you sort of what was your, you know, what were you thinking when Haley called you up? And she was asking you all these questions.

Annalise 9:17
Yeah, so funny. I was gonna bring that up because it was going through my head, as we were just sitting here now is, Hayley and I we’re obviously very good friends in grad school. She was in the year ahead of me. So I was in my last year of the MPH when- when Hayley called me and at the time, I was having a lot of thoughts about what I wanted to do with with my career and with my education after I graduated, like Hayley, have had a number of opportunities to work both here in Canada and internationally. In various fields of global health, kind of dabbled in a lot of different kind of sub sectors within global health and when I received her call, and- and was kind of talking through some of this stuff, I think it really got my mind going. And then I guess that was probably three years ago. And since then I think the conversation has just strengthened and we’ve had a lot more kind of insights, both personally and professionally for myself of just not seeing myself fitting into that into the some of the boxes that you’re funneled into, sometimes an MPH. And I think like Hayley said, there’s such great work being done. But sometimes it’s really hard to like locate who you are as a person and your goals and values and where you want to take that with your work. So it’s been a been a really ongoing iterative process for me. And I think the only thing I can really finish off with is just ThriveHire, and working in kind of the public health, global health entrepreneurship space has opened my eyes to so many different types of work and, and truth finding true meaning in that work.

Sujani 10:54
So I guess right off the bat, you were, are you thinking, this is something I want to ask Hayley about, you know, joining forces with? Or did it take a bit more time for you to kind of officially get on board and join this mission of ThriveHire?

Annalise 11:10
Yeah, I think it emerged actually, pretty organically. It was just kind of, Hayley’s incredible. The one thing she’s always said to me is just, you know, open, clear communication is priority. And so I think it was just kind of constantly touching base with each other and saying, you know, where are you at in your life right now? What, what really lights a fire for you. And I think over time, it just became more and more clear to me that despite all the things I dabbled in, in global health, this was one thing that was really drawing me close.

Sujani 11:40
And I think, at least from some conversations I’ve had when I’ve heard people have really good ideas, I, you know, I encourage them to try it out or take that first initial step. And some of the worries or barriers I think people face is like, how do I start this? Or what’s that first step or, you know, if it’s got to do with the website, I don’t know how to design a website. And I think that’s where bringing in people with different skill sets into your team really sort of strengthens your mission and even your business. So, you know, clearly, Hayley, you’ve brought together a really good team. And so maybe we can move on to Maleika and sort of talk about how you met. Or Maleika, maybe you can tell me how you met Hayley and sort of your background, and, you know, the vision and the values that you hold and how that relates to ThriveHire.

Maleika 12:29
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for the question. So Hayley, and I actually go way back to undergrad days. So we met at UBC, in Vancouver, a long time ago. And then she moved to Toronto a few years ago, and I follow suit two years ago. And basically, we reconnected and we come from different backgrounds, in a way, because I studied business commerce, and my background is in human resources and organizational strategy. So, you know, it kind of fit naturally when Hayley talked about, you know, her mission and vision for ThriveHire, and so, so it kind of felt like complementary skills, which was great. And so I would bring in the business perspective, and, you know, support Haley’s vision for what we want to achieve. And the reason why I was so interested in this is because I grew up in Tanzania, in East Africa. And for me, I have seen firsthand that healthcare was in its infancy stages. And when I was at university, I was running a charity organization called the Tanzania Heart Babies project, where we would support children born with congenital heart defects and send them abroad for open heart surgeries. Because Tanzania, again, had healthcare at its very infancy stages. So when Hayley told me about this, it kind of struck a- struck a chord, because I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and, and seeing, you know, healthcare thrive, with no pun intended, was really, it was eye opening and seeing it from a fresh perspective was- was just incredible. So I immediately jumped on board.

Sujani 14:23
Wonderful. So really, it sounds like you know, all these relationships have sort of just bloomed organically. So do you have sort of anything that was kind of going in the back of your mind, as you’re talking to Annalise and Maleika? Are you thinking, you know, I’d really like to bring them on board, or was it just like, they just offered help? And then you just decided you’d form a team together?

Hayley 14:50
Yeah, no, it’s a great question. I think, again, it’s kind of a it’s a bit of both. I would say overall, though, it definitely happened organically. You know, I mean, to your point earlier, Sujani, I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, businesses are never built single handedly they’re built through people. And if you try to, you know, control everything, you’re just gonna, you’re just gonna get burnt out and exhaust yourself. And it’s really about getting people on board who have complementary skills. So even I mean, to this day, when I meet people, I’m always thinking that in the back of my head, you know, as this person, I think the first thing I tried to vet for is like, “Does this person get really excited when I tell them, you know, my mission? Or our hypothesis?” You know, does it- does it really light them up, because I think, especially if you’re gonna get on board with a business, like a startup, especially during the early stages, you have to be so passionate. And if someone doesn’t get passionate, and even if they have the technical skills, for me, that’s kind of a bit of a red flag. But when I was talking to both Maleika, Annalise, and even some of our other team members, I could just see, like, they got so excited and passionate. And for me, I kind of took note of that. And, ultimately through it, it was- it was a, really a series of conversations, you know, I think it’s a lot to tell someone, I mean, both Annalise and Maleika are incredible. They both have full time jobs, and they’re doing this on the side. And I think it’s a lot to throw on somebody’s plate to say, “Hey, do you want to get involved in a startup?” Um, you know, it’s a, it’s a big responsibility. And it’s, I think, ultimately a decision to not take, you know, you have to take it somewhat seriously, you have to put thought into it. And you have to be at a stage in your life where you can do that. So, Annalise’s point earlier, it was a lot of conversations, just a lot of check ins to say, you know, where are you at? Are you still excited? And, and ultimately, if we want to find something that works, I want to do something that’s like, mutually beneficial. So it was a lot of lot of ongoing conversations, for sure.

Sujani 16:45
I guess the question I would throw back to you is, how would you distinguish, like, initial enthusiasm within that honeymoon phase about joining like an exciting startup? Versus like, someone who’s actually going to commit? And, you know, put in the work that you’re expecting them to put in?

Annalise 17:04
Totally.

Hayley 17:05
No, it’s a great question. And I think, especially in regards to, I think that’s even something, you know, is alluding to a bit with making it somewhat organic and an ongoing conversation, because part of that, especially for any founder who has to recruit people, you have to vet is this person actually serious? Because you’re totally right, it sounds it’s very easy to romanticize but you know, it’s a lot of work. And especially as you know, founder co founder, you need to find people who are really willing to put in the work. And so for me, something simple that I would do is I would give somebody, you know, a quick assignment, you know, to say, hey, I need this over the next week. And if they get back and are on top of their emails, and they actually finish the work, and it’s, it’s a good quality than that’s a good sign. And you kind of give them like, a few different it- I wouldn’t really call them tests, but it maybe in some ways they are, to see is this person actually serious or not. And do they communicate well. As almost one other point, I guess this is more going into, you know, I guess managerial styles. But one other point is, you know, it’s again, it’s you have to be cognizant that, you know, people have busy schedules, and I think it’s a, it’s very easy to, to micromanage people. But I think at the end of the day, let’s say you give somebody a test, it’s somewhat okay. Or maybe they weren’t on top of communication, I have kind of a rule of threes, where so if something happens three times in a row at that point, then we have to kind of sit down and have just a more open conversation. Just say, “Here’s my perspective, you know, we need to ultimately get this work done. We need to be able to stick to schedules, I know you have a lot on your plate, how are you feeling with everything?” And that’s ultimately an opportunity to have a dialogue to see where they’re at, and if they’re ultimately still committed. And again, this is an ongoing process to build trust. But I think especially ultimately, as a founder, you need to set certain.. certain tests in place to see if someone’s actually really excited and can legitimately put in the work.

Annalise and Maleika, would you- would you say sort of like add to that, just considering that you’re both working full time. And maybe we’ll come back to Hayley about why she decided to go full time and all into ThriveHire, but given both of you have full time jobs, how are you able to manage, you know, working on a startup and how do you convince yourself that you know, I’m not going to be working 40 hours a week, I’m actually going to be working 80 hours.

Annalise 19:36
Um, yeah, I guess to start, I think, I think two things. For me, I guess both the time I’ve spent in formal education settings has really taught me time management and compartmentalizing. So I think for me, it’s kind of not being- not being incredibly strict, but definitely setting- setting boundaries with.. with certain tasks and like Hayley said, just being really open and clear with communication. You know, one of the things we always talk about is just like, if something really urgent comes up for me at work, I try and give her as much notice as possible, and just let her know ahead of time like what’s going on. So I think working- working at my day job, I’ll call it and for ThriveHires just really emphasize the significance of communicating strongly with absolutely everyone. But I would also like to add to that, that I think, ThriveHire and just our team is, undoubtedly the reason that my communication skills have improved, I don’t think that I’ve gotten that experience. And that kind of like parallel guidance, like someone who’s standing beside me and is pushing for that communication just as much as I am. In my day job, I think it’s just something that comes from kind of being 24 hours available and wanting to commit to some-something and a broader vision with with your teammates. So I think, ThriveHire, can go full responsibility for just for it to come through that way.

Sujani 21:07
Wonderful. And Maleika, how about for you?

Maleika 21:11
So I totally echo Annalise’s sentiments. I think one other thing to add to that, beyond just the communication piece, and, and the work that we’ve been doing, it’s what I love about working with Hayley and ThriveHire is that it’s not time bound. So you know, it’s not that I expect X number of hours, this week, or in this month, it’s more, okay, let’s create something together and build and figure out and time is just a part of it, it doesn’t have to be a time commitment. It’s more so you know, what the pieces that we’re working on, you know, let’s- let’s- let’s make that tries, I guess I keep

Annalise 21:55
Sort of like that ongoing conversation. Whereas like at work, sometimes there’s, you don’t get that face to face like, this is what I’m going through. Whereas we talk like every day, multiple times a day, it’s continuous.

Exactly. It’s a flow, it’s not necessarily a clock in and clock out, which is organic, it comes back..

Hayley 22:15
One and just kind of adding to that too. I mean, something is built. So you were talking, I was just kind of reminding me of this. So when I said recently, Sujani, just this was in this, like business setting at this one event is I really think when it comes to building businesses is I truly just believe that relationships are your biggest currency. I think so much, especially going back to Maleika’s point. I mean, so easy. I mean, I do it, we all do it, we get so stuck in like tasks, and like just getting stuff done. I think we forget that ultimately, like the biggest currency you have is building trust with people. And it takes a lot of energy. You know, it takes for me personally, and it’s just my own approach to it. But like, all of my emotional energy in my business really goes into trying to establish and build trust, because it does take a lot of time. And it does take sometimes those harder conversations. And you know what, sometimes I’m making assumptions that someone has more availability than they do, or something personal has come up. And like I said, I think it’s not about calling somebody out every single time they do it, but rather saying like, where are you at at this point? And ultimately, how can I support you, while also recognizing that, of course, at the end of the day, it is a business, we need things to get done. But let’s figure out something that works with your schedule that also, you know, is mutually beneficial for the business. And I do think there’s actually ways to do both. I don’t think it’s always you know, mutually exclusive. So I just yeah, it’s an entrepreneur trying- trying to find ways to build trust and can really go a long way and especially over the long term.

Sujani 23:47
Yeah. And I think that’s important for our listeners to kind of hear from you guys that you know, even though you were friends from school and Maleika, you having known Haley since undergrad, and then Annalise, through your masters, even being friends, you still need to work on that communication and that relationship. Yes, having the friendship starts as a really good foundation for any business. But then it’s also difficult, you know, to tell your friends, “Hey, have you done the work that we were supposed to complete this week?” And I think what I hear from you guys is that you’re constantly working on the communication, the relationship, despite already being friends. So that’s really important. I think maybe switching gears a little bit. We, I want to focus on going back to your idea and the steps that you took, Hayley, you said you sat down spoke with a few people about the gaps that they were seeing in their sort of career path. What was sort of that next step? Did you know that it was going to be a website like a platform or did you think it was going to be a service that you wanted to deliver? Take us back to that time?

Hayley 24:59
Yeah, so the this was probably.. Yeah, I think maybe the summer of 2017 or so. So yeah, but about two years ago. So yeah, to your question, I had no idea whether or not it was gonna be a website, we actually iterated the idea four times before we actually launched the website, just simply based on the findings we were gathering. But, there were kind of two things I was doing. So one, of course, is I was writing a lot of things down, I was going through an exercise that a lot of entrepreneurs do, which is called the business model canvas was coming up with all these ideas, but it was still a bit scattered. And part of the reason for that was my background wasn’t in business, like my backgrounds in public health, as I was alluding to at the start. And so I felt like I had to really develop some solid business knowledge. And so of course, part of that was starting to work with Maleika. And then another piece was that I started applying to a bunch of business accelerator programs. And so I’m not sure sure if your audience and the listeners are familiar with accelerators, but they’re basically these programs that try to recruit entrepreneurs, oftentimes you have to pitch to get in, and then they provide you with this series of services and resources to really help accelerate your business. So it’s anything from mentorship, they often walk you through curricula and workshops, they can give you access to grants, or different funding opportunities. And so I think at that point, I find to.. for

Sujani 26:27
At this point, did you have sort of a, an idea that you could pitch?

Hayley 26:32
Yeah, it was a broad idea. And I even think probably at that point, Sujani, I think, was talking even just about like educational workshops, like it was very different to what we’re doing now. And I think it’s maybe in retrospect, a an interesting example of you don’t have to, you know, do things perfectly, and you can’t, you just have to have a general kind of idea, understand the problem and just throw something out there and start, you know, meeting people and going to networking events and applying to programs. And then ultimately, you’ll start, you know, accumulating more knowledge as you go. But yeah, it was just a very kind of, I’ll be blunt, it was a very fluffy idea. And then went through these four, four different accelerator programs. And then ultimately, through that, I think we really started fine tuning that, you know, an online platform, would be the best way to address the challenges that both the employers and the job seekers talked about. Because ultimately, we realized that a lot of people were just talking about how scattered the field is. And as a result, it can be really difficult to either recruit candidates or get connected to opportunities. So yeah, it was just this iterative process going through, going through these accelerator programs and just writing things down and, you know, getting- getting started.

Sujani 27:47
And so now, ThriveHire, sort of the front facing product is the website. And I think another- another issue that someone would bring up when they have an idea is like, I don’t know how to build a website, or I don’t know how to market a product. So what would you say? Either Annalise or Maleika? What would you say to someone who says, you know, I have a public health idea, but I don’t know how to say, build a technological solution, whether that’s a website or an app, or I don’t know how to market my idea. I don’t know how to, you know, think about a business plan or a business model canvas, what would you say to someone that wants to take the first step, but is nervous thinking about all these other fields that they don’t have formal training? And because they’re a public health, you know, they’ve been trained in public health?

Annalise 28:41
Anything is possible.

Maleika 28:44
And just to add to that, you know, I really love the saying that “Brilliance is evenly distributed, opportunities not.” and I you know, what Hayley did was like, she was extremely resourceful and ensuring that, you know, she gets the puzzle together. You know, I think- I think you taught yourself how to code.

Sujani 29:05
Wow.

Hayley 29:06
Yeah, it was a bit funny, adding to Maleika’s point there. So we had some- some funding, we see through some of these different accelerators. But it wasn’t a ton. It was, I think, at that point, we maybe had about $3,000, which you’re going to build, of course, a full blown website really doesn’t go that that long, of a way. So I ended up hiring a web developer on a freelance contract, which was great, but my budget was pretty limited. And so there was parts of it, where I just realized with kind of the funds that I had access to it, just it really wasn’t a lot. So there were certain kind of pages where I realized I had to code a couple of things. Just because quite frankly, there was just a lack of funding and then we just, you know, got it going and launched it about a year ago. But yeah, it’s just like, well, like I said, you gotta be a bit scrappy and resourceful.

Annalise 29:56
And I think, even though I said that officiously, like anything is possible, I think, the core of what I mean by that is having the humility to know that you don’t have all the answers, but that you can do a really good job of figuring it out talking to the right people taking in soaking in every opportunity to learn about these things. And I think that’s kind of what I mean, when I’m like, it is possible.

Sujani 30:21
And just having access to YouTube and all these learning platforms, I think we’re just in a, in an era where truly anything is possible right now,

Hayley 30:30
Totally, you can teach yourself a lot. I mean, if I, if I could go back and have it kind of this perfect way. And even back then I was, I was definitely a big, big priority was looking for a technical co founder. But again, kind of what we were talking about at the start with open communication, there was a handful of people, maybe three people I met, that were fantastic. One in particular was just stellar, like really, really talented, but they just weren’t simply in a situation in their life where they could, you know, go full time into being an entrepreneur, you know, especially for kind of financial reasons. And then there was a couple of other people who just kind of had, were in similar situations, like another person I met had a another business full time and just, you know, didn’t seem like anytime soon, they were willing to really commit. And I think, again, you just have to have these ongoing conversations. So I think just given the circumstances we were in, I think we were able to get something going. But I think you just kind of have to be scrappy, and patient during all of it just to get started, you know.

Sujani 31:32
Totally, I have this quote on my wall. And it says, “Take pride in starting small and scrappy”, so totally. Like, I think we talked about money and funding a few times. And I think that’s a really good segway into a question I had for Hayley, which was, you are doing ThriveHire full time, and you’re kind of like, all in.. Were you nervous making that decision? Because, you know, for me, similar to Annalise, Maleik, I run PH SPOT in addition to my full time job, and I’ve always questioned, you know, am I ready to jump all in? And one of the things that come to mind right off the bat is like, how am I going to sustain my life in terms of money? So, yeah, like, what, what’s, what was your experience when you’re deciding to go sort of full time with ThriveHire?

Hayley 32:25
Yeah, I mean, it’s not an easy decision at all. And definitely, I was, you know, terrified with with all of it. I think, though, one perspective I was looking at it was, was at that time, this was, yeah, a little I think about a little. Yeah, about a year ago, I realized that I really saw myself going into entrepreneurship and taking this kind of big pivot and this big shift away from sort of global health slash public health research into into entrepreneurship and business and, and ultimately, how can we use entrepreneurship as as a vehicle to creating really important change in our community. So for me, that was like a big personal decision, I was realizing and so deciding to go full time into ThriveHire, I just, I guess I didn’t see it as much of a risk as maybe a lot of people could see it, because either way, I thought, even if this thing doesn’t work out, and it fails, then, you know, I’m gonna get so many skills along the way, and, you know, really enlarge in my network, and ultimately, that’ll that’ll help long term. So I think, though, kind of a personal decision is you have to really set benchmarks and goals to say like, you know, by this point, we have to be, you know, really earning, say this much in revenue to really make a more informed decision if this is like the right path to take long term. And that’s ultimately something that, you know, internally in our team, we’re still designing and even something that, you know, we’re navigating, but I think at the end of the day, at some point, you just got to take a leap and kind of do a risk analysis for yourself and then set really tangible goals and benchmarks to make an informed decision if you’re on the right track.

Sujani 33:59
And I guess that’s not to say that you need to go full time if you have an idea, and that you need to quit your job and you know, put all of your time and energy into that idea. Because clearly Annalise, Maleika and myself, we are able to, you know, work on a startup while having a full time job. What would you guys say Annalise and Maleika in terms of, you know, have you thought about wanting to go full time into entrepreneurship? Or are you happy sort of balancing both at the moment?

Maleika 34:31
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I am currently in the entrepreneurial space, which is interesting. So I am part of a program that supports seed stage startups. So I kind of get a bird’s eye view of different startups that go through others specifically in the deep science tech space. So for now, I’m looking to balance both, you know, working for a startup and also being having that bird’s eye view of looking at different industries and how different startups run so that eventually I can dive fully into it. So it’s really about gaining skills first and feeling equipped before diving.

Annalise 35:15
Yeah, I would echo what Maleika said, I think. For me, it’s been kind of an ongoing circling thought for two years. I currently work full time and very much in the global health research space. And I really enjoy what I do. I think Thrive hire has taught me so much more, I think for me, the biggest thing has just spin on financial barrier. I think that’s kind of that’s kind of been the big thing hanging over my head. To be really blunt, but I also think that Hayley, everything Hayley said about kind of setting a deadline and really equipping yourself with the right skills, and just knowing when you’re ready to make that transition, and setting a date for that is something that I’m definitely keeping at the forefront of my mind.

Hayley 36:05
Yeah, just echo and ultimately, you know, it just comes down to every individual person’s circumstances, you know, I don’t think there’s like one road to take, and everyone’s in a completely different situation. So if, again, you’re wanting to go into entrepreneurship, it’s about really kind of assessing, where are you at, personally, and let’s say, for instance, if funding is a big challenge, which it is for, I think, 99% of all of us, you know, then it’s like literally seeing that problem. And then how do we find a way to get around that, you know, so then it’s like, being really aggressive with trying to approach funders. So that’s even, for instance, just kind of a side note, but there’s different ways, of course, as a as an entrepreneur, that you can raise money, and there’s certain routes, you can take that work really well for certain types of startups, and some that don’t work as well for, you know, a different startup for very different reasons. And so even for us personally, like fundraising has been a big priority, but we’re just starting to kind of get a lay of the land there and figure out what the best path is for us to take. So anyways, long story short, is, you know, really assess your own personal situation, and then find ways that you can get around some of the biggest challenges ahead of you, and, and you’ll find a way to make it work ultimately, on your own timeline.

Sujani 37:18
Yeah, I think, yeah, it’s really nice to hear all three of your different perspectives. And I think, for our listeners, it’ll be, it’ll be nice to just hear the different options that they have, and that you don’t necessarily need to go all in and you can balance your work and work on a startup. And I think that’s, that’s a really good picture for them to see with the three of you guys. Another question I had, maybe each of you can sort of go around the table and talk about it is social entrepreneurship. I think it’s a term that may be new for public health professionals who aren’t in the entrepreneurship space. But what is social entrepreneurship Hayley to you? And I know you consider yourself as a social entrepreneur. But yeah, do you want to tell us a bit about that?

Hayley 38:08
Sure. Yeah. So the way that I define social entrepreneurship is it’s, it’s basically where you’re trying to use and apply business principles to first and foremost address a social problem. So rather than just taking a traditional path to entrepreneurship, where we’re just we’re, we’re mainly preoccupied with trying to, to gain profits to, you know, have a successful business, we’re trying to gain ultimately profits and resources so that we can tackle big social problems. So for instance, you know, at Thrive hire, we consider ourselves, you know, it’s a social enterprise, because ultimately, through our work, if we can retain people in the global health fields and avoid unnecessary brain drain, then ultimately this sector is going to have the health workforce that needs to address some of the biggest health challenges that lie ahead of us, really, across the world. So yeah, that’s kind of how I would define social entrepreneurship. And in a nutshell.

Annalise 39:06
I think Hayley nailed that. I mean, the only other thing that comes to mind for me is just Hayley kind of touched on it. And last thing she said, but really, and this isn’t unique to Thrive hire but really recognizing that these- these challenges such as unemployment, underemployment aren’t unique to Toronto. They’re not unique to Canada. They’re across the world. And that’s something I think that we’re definitely seeing more and more clearly in our work. And I think a lot of a lot of other social entrepreneur enterprises are also saying the same thing. And that’s kind of the driving force.

Maleika 39:40
Yeah, I completely resonate with what both of them said. And essentially, you know, to me social entrepreneurship is you’re basically filling a gap in society that needs to be addressed. And going full force so that so yeah.

Sujani 40:00
I think a lot of people that get into public health, that’s the like, that’s the value they hold at the core of themselves. And that’s the reason that they, you know, joined the field of public health. So I think just knowing that you can have a profitable business that also is conscious about in making a change in the world, I think I’m hoping that becomes an inspiration for more and more people to try out entrepreneurship within the space of public health. And what I’m hearing from the three of you is that, you know, if you can bring together a group of people that share the same values, you can be inspired with each other, communicate clearly. And just little by little, just start working on your idea, you can come up with a profitable business. And so with that, I just want to say thank you. And, you know, before we sort of sign off, what would be sort of your last words of wisdom, we’ll go around the table for anyone thinking about an idea in the public health space, and they do want to pursue entrepreneurship.

Hayley 41:06
Oh, man, things but I mean, the biggest thing I would I would honestly say is just get started, like, don’t, don’t seek perfection, just to get started. And ultimately, by, you know, trying to build a business, you’re gonna get so many skills along the way. And then I guess, kind of the sub point to that, because the story, of course, I started out in research, so there’s always going to be a sub point.

The other point I’d say is when again, you’re getting started is, is really try to find yourself, like, like, surround yourself with people WHO really believe in you. And that’s, of course, team members, as hopefully, we’re showing and trying to get across in this podcast. But, you know, find mentors. And there’s two things for me that I personally look for in mentors. So one is I look for people WHO, of course, have knowledge or skill sets that I’m looking to, you know, get better at. So that’s one. But I think the second point, and this applies to mentorship, or just team members, or, you know, people that you’re talking to more broadly, but it’s really important to find people WHO believe in you, because not everybody’s going to, um, and you know, I feel like it’s sometimes feels like an uphill battle. And you’re always kind of trying to defend and justify, you know, why you took this unconventional path and entrepreneurship, but you got to find your crowd of people WHO believe in what you’re doing. And because the whole point, you’re going to keep going and get this started. And really take it off the ground. If you know, people are pushing you go along the way, and they’re encouraging you to go that much farther than you think you can go. So find people WHO believe in you. And if there’s anything, don’t lower that bar.

Sujani 42:48
Hey, guys, I hope you enjoyed that episode with the team of Thrive hire. And if you want to get any of the links or information mentioned in today’s episode, you can head over to pH spot.ca/podcasts. And we’ll have everything there for you. And I hope this episode leaves you feeling a bit inspired to think about the problems that you’re working on in a new light, a light that includes you as the individual WHO will build a solution. And so I leave you with this thought from Warren Buffett, someone is sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago. And so until next time, thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight, and for the invaluable work that you do for this world. And before you go, there’s a little bit more at the end of this podcast. At the time of recording this episode. Hayley was on her way to Rwanda and she was going to be spending two years there to build out Thrive hire, so stick around and hear about the reason that she’s deciding to move to Rwanda.

And I guess we can’t end this segment without asking you about your move. Do you want to tell us about the story behind you moving to Rwanda for two years for five higher?

Hayley 44:08
Yeah, so um, so yeah, I’m, I’m really looking forward to this next chapter. So actually, in two weeks from yesterday, so I guess in 13 days now, I’m going to be moving to Kigali and Rwanda. And it’s been really interesting, as Annalise knows, especially as our data analyst at Thrive higher, we’ve really seen an uptick in organizations that have been reaching out to us from across Sub Saharan Africa. And we see that as ultimately a great opportunity for the business to grow. And I think ultimately, you know, in global health, we’re always talking about finding ways to do collaborative, equitable partnerships. And I think that’s really hard to do from a distance. And so ultimately, we see this as an opportunity to forge more partnerships with people on the ground and, and find ultimately some some new and exciting business opportunity. So yeah, we’re really looking forward to this next chapter.

Sujani 45:01
Think we’re gonna have to get you guys back on in about a year’s time to hear about how that goes and see where you’re at in a year’s time.

Hayley 45:10
Awesome. Thanks so much Sujani for having us.

Sujani 45:13
Thank you so much.

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About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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