Many would like to find these soft skills, which are often not reflected in a résumé. For example, VCs are always looking for founders who are “resilient”, “intuitive” and “brave”. At the same time, they want to find teams that work well together and complement each other. Team dynamics can make or break a company.
In the Startup Teams series, we profile founding teams. We want to know why they decided to work together and why they work so well together.
Twentyeight Health is founded by Amy Fan and Bruno Van Tuykom. Amy ran a DTC skin care and makeup startup and was inspired by a focus on deeply understanding her customers. She wants to develop a people-centered approach to health care that puts the patient first. She is passionate about equality for women, in healthcare, in the workplace and beyond.
Prior to being the GM of a DTC skin care startup, Amy was a consultant at Bain & Company. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University in Canada and an MBA & Master of Public health from the University of California, Berkeley.
Bruno was previously a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group and is a trained electrical engineer.
Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?and how did your company come together??
Amy: I started my career as a consultant at Bain and most recently was General Manager of a skin care startup in NYC. I loved how consumer-centric beauty is. Everything is created with a deep qualitative and quantitative insight from the user. At the same time, I lived in the United States for the first time and experienced firsthand how difficult it is to be provided with insurance. I wanted to take the consumer-centric approach from beauty to healthcare to build worthy patient experiences, which led me to get started Twenty eight health.
Bruno: In front Twenty eight health, I spent eight Years with the Boston Consulting Group. During that time, I worked with the Gates Foundation to improve access to health care in developing countries. Improving access to health care is very important to me and I think there is still a lot to be done. Through my experience at Gates, I saw the potential telemedicine could have to improve access to care, especially when it comes to women health. Shortly afterwards, I met Amy through a friend and colleague from BCG and we decided to set up and start up Twenty eight health.
What are your favorite startups?
Amy and Bruno: Through our work at Twenty eight healthWe have built strong relationships with other organizations that focus on providing sexual and reproductive health care to underserved women, such as Healthify and ICAN !. Additionally, we are excited to partner with innovative players who are rethinking women health Experience including Ovia health.
Why did you start your current company?
Amy and Bruno: Today, low-income women are three times more likely to have unwanted pregnancies than the average woman in the United States, and nearly a third of doctors across the country don’t take new Medicaid patients. These devastating statistics underscore why high quality reproductive care is offered, including to people across race, income class, or health Insurance status is more important than ever.
Twenty eight health We look forward to improving access to quality sexual and reproductive care for women in the United States as we enter our third fiscal year. In the past three months, we’ve launched in six new states in the US to effectively double our footprint, and plan to be available to more than 80% of the US population by the summer.
What is the most frustrating and rewarding thing about entrepreneurship / innovation?
Amy: The most frustrating thing is not having enough time! There are many ways we would like to expand our service to our users and we aim to grow.
The most rewarding thing is to hear from our users about the impact we’ve had. During our all-hands meeting every Friday, the customer experience team shares user feedback. What started as a way for the entire team to keep in touch with our users quickly became one of the highlights of my week.
What is the # 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?
Bruno: Not enough focus on what really sets them apart from other players. Most startups have competitors when they launch or see competitors join their market on their way. An easy mistake is to believe that the market is big enough and that many players will succeed. While this may be true, the most successful startups have clear differentiation and a clear moat that allows them to attract customers at low cost and create barriers for their competitors to copy.
What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Amy: First is resilience. Especially in the early stages, there are many people who will doubt you. It’s also important to stay curious and understand the “why” behind the “no”. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but it does help you get a different perspective. Third, it’s about finding a co-founder who not only shares your vision, but your values as well. It’s easy to agree when things are going well and when obstacles will arise. Bruno and I return to our values of treating others with kindness, questioning the status quo and adopting a growth philosophy in order to have difficult conversations, challenge our thinking and arrive at a solution that is better than what is each of us could have imagined individually.
What complementary skills do you have in each case?
Amy: When I moved to New York City in 2014, I joined a venture studio to build a telemedicine platform for dietitians, and later led Onomie Beauty, where our team developed and launched Allure Best of Beauty award-winning products. These experiences taught me a lot about what it took to be successful as a startup and how to build a consumer business that really puts the customer first.
Bruno: Working with the Gates Foundation to improve access to health care in developing countries, I’ve learned a lot about how to provide health care to underserved populations. Additionally, I built a strong network in the healthcare sector that was helpful in meeting our early investors, advisors, and team members.
What characteristics / qualities are you looking for in a founding partner?
Amy: Most importantly, you find a founding partner who is just as excited about the idea for the company as you are. When I met Bruno, it quickly became clear that we both wanted to improve access to sexual and reproductive care for underserved communities.
Bruno: I totally agree with Amy, and in terms of skills, finding a founding partner with complementary skills is incredibly valuable. Amy’s experience in the consumer startup world and the work I did with the Gates Foundation to expand health care access to underserved communities have served Twentyeight Health well.
How do you make sure you don’t get on each other’s nerves?
Amy: Bruno and I come from management consulting and we really appreciate investing in teams that many consulting firms have.
We want to make sure everyone feels supported, and while we may be working on different things, ultimately we are working towards a bigger goal. And that means whenever we can help each other, we should do it. I think our commitment to helping each other – regardless of the situation – helps keep us from getting on each other’s nerves.
What did you learn from working together?
Amy: From the earliest times we worked together, Bruno and I have been very clear about what decisions to prepare for before making decisions and what decisions we should feel empowered to make independently. We have learned that it is incredibly important to focus on decision-making at Twentyeight Health, especially since our company has grown exponentially over the past year.
Twenty-eight doubled the number of states it is available in the first three months of 2021 alone, and plans to be available to women in more than 20 states by the summer. This kind of rapid growth requires both of us to make timely decisions about customer care, sales, financing, operations, marketing, and more. I am glad that we learned early on how important it is to focus on decision-making processes, as this is how we can scale.
What is your advice on teams and founding partners for entrepreneurs who want to start a business?
Amy: It’s important to be in tune with your co-founder, not just about your company’s vision, but how to get there. Very early on, Bruno and I spent a lot of time discussing our personal values and the culture we wanted to create at Twentyeight. This process is an important step – even before the first employee joins – as it becomes a lens of cultural aptitude for building the team.