Talking Talent: A Healthy Dose of Hiring: How Ada, LabTwin, and Doctolib Attract Talent

On July 31st, we presented the third edition of Talking Talent: A Healthy Dose of Hiring, hosted at BCG Digital Ventures. This time we welcomed:

ACELR8 is closely involved in building out the teams of these companies and experienced the challenges they faced. All three companies share a mission, to disrupt the healthcare system by using technology, but the question is if they also share the same hiring tactics.

The aim of our event was to look more closely at how important a strong hire and team is in propelling the company towards success. As our first speaker, Ilias, stated:

"[a strong] team, leads to a better product… leads to more sales… leads to more success"
Ilias Tsimpoulis

Hiring for Doctolib

Ilias Tsimpoulis, Managing Director at Doctolib GmbH

Ilias is Managing Director at Doctolib and described the two missions of the company: the first to improve the healthcare system, and the second to hire the best team. Doctolib is an improved booking service that connects the right patient with the right doctor. In the 5 years of Doctolib's existence (founded in Paris), they now have:

  • 100,000 healthcare professionals working with them;
  • 150,000 users per day;
  • 2000 healthcare facilities;
  • 40 mln patients per month ;
  • 850 employees in their teams;
  • I0 cities in Germany and France with offices;
  • Looking to grow to 1150 employees in the next year.

This, Ilias emphasised, would be impossible without the team. The company sees itself as a sports team, taking on entrepreneurial thinkers, and developing them into something great by getting onboarding and training right. The company offers multiple ways to educate new hires, such as a doctor school and thorough onboarding.

"We try to hire candidates who have the potential to be as good as the best 50% of the team"
Ilias Tsimpoulis

With a big focus on referrals, the candidates must fit into the Doctolib culture around the core values — SPAAH: Service, Passion, Ambition, Attack, Humility. It is clear that the team of Doctolib is on their way to improve the healthcare system one step at the time.

Hiring for Ada

Marvin Rottenberg, VP of Marketing at Ada Health

The next speaker was Marvin Rottenberg, VP of Marketing at Ada Health. Ada Health is the symptom assessment app that combines medical knowledge and AI to help diagnose and assist patients at home before they see a doctor. Although its original conception was 8 years ago, it has only been on the market for 3 years as Ada contains a huge medical database, compiled by real doctors working at Ada — and this takes time! Nowadays, they are the #1 health app, active in 130 countries, with over 7 mln users, and available in seven languages.

Marvin described how he is creating an agile marketing department at Ada which will total 35 members. He split the department into five teams: Awareness, Website, Growth, Social Media, and Customer Care. The teams will work together or competitively in this new structure — working cross-functional and siloed at the same time. Building these teams is not easy, and yet Marketing receives around 180 applications per week!

Hiring for Labtwin

Magdalena Paluch, Co-founder and CEO at Labtwin

Magdalena Paluch, Co-founder and CEO at Labtwin, was our final speaker. Focusing more on the Life Science field, Labtwin is developing a voice-powered digital lab assistant. Their product empowers innovation within the industry and makes it move faster. Magdalena gave as an example that it can take up to 15 years to develop a drug. If we can speed up experimentation, we can speed up this process. Next to speed, quality goes up, as vital information can be lost which makes the findings slower and less accurate — this is where Labtwin comes in!

"It is like Siri that went to get a PhD"
—Magdalena Paluch

Magdalena shared they screened around 1800 applicants in order to get to the diverse 37 team members from 17 different countries that make up Labtwin today. The whole team felt very passionate to get the best talent onboard, with an emphasis on feedback through the recruitment process. Magdalena pointed out that Labtwin combines the startup world with corporate backing from BCG Digital Ventures, which brings along mixed outcomes. On the one hand, candidates might not want to be connected to a corporate, and on the other, it brings the advantages of a stable backing.

Favourite interview questions, learnings, and regrets

Ilias, Magdalena, and Marvin during a discussion panel

After the talks, we did a small panel discussion and opened up the discussion to the audience for a Q&A. Isabel Strijland, Growth Manager at ACELR8, asked about the favourite interview questions of the speakers:

"If your mother was talking about you for 2 minutes what would she say? — always works, as it puts the perspective outside of the professional setting and leads to an honest answer"
—Ilias
"What would you change about Ada and how would you do that in your position?"
—Marvin
"Tell me about a time you were faced with a big change"
—Magdalena

It was also discussed how the startup world is very different from the traditional healthcare centre that is very process-driven, and how to find talent to understand both worlds. The speakers agreed that this is where good onboarding comes in so that new employees who are recruited for the attitude are then educated about healthcare and so understand the industry properly. At Labtwin, for example, the employees take part in biology classes to learn more about life in a lab.

"When a company grows, things change. You need to understand that. If you want to change the world, you should also be willing to change your personal position." —Marvin

A great final question came from our audience, asking the speakers what their biggest regret was. Magdalena pointed out that there is a lot still unknown, as you grow so fast you hire people in teams that do not exist yet, so time will tell.

Ilias reprashed the questions to the mistakes that he made. He made mistakes while recruiting under pressure and shared as advice to reject a candidate, whenever you have a doubt. Because if you ignore your doubt and still hire the candidate, the negative consequences will come back to you in the later stage. A manager should take their responsibility and be upfront with the candidate — as hiring works both ways: it should be a good decision for the company, but also for the candidate.

And at last, Marvin pointed out how important it is to set the right expectations. In a health-tech startup that is growing fast, many things are still uncertain: a law can be changed that influences the product, a team can be restructured, or a company can shift directions. You need to make that clear to new joiners. If you want to change the world, you should also change your personal position.

Conclusion

To conclude, a healthy dose of hiring is not easy to reach! It takes a lot of dedication from the whole team, or even the whole company, to hire and onboard the right talent. There is a sweet spot between identifying the right talent and knowing how much you can teach somebody.

  • Learning #1: Never hire under pressure, but make informed and calm decisions;
  • Learning #2: Educate your team from day one on your product, culture and mission;
  • Learning #3: Find a team structure that matches the need of your company;
  • Learning #4: Get your team onboard in hiring the right talent, let them understand what you look for, set expectations and give on-point feedback;
  • Learning #5: Create a strong mission and brand to get employees onboard.

Important is put hiring on top of your list of priorities — as Doctolib, Ada, and Labtwin showed during our event, the team is the most important in bringing a company to success.


Make sure to join us for our next event on September 3rd at solarisBank on how leadership evolves when a startup scales.

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