SaaS Founder Interview with Prashant Srivastava, Founder of Evive
Tony Zayas 0:06
Everybody, welcome to the tech founders show. It’s Tony Zayas joined by Andy Halko. Andy, I wanted to get your feedback, the health care benefits industry. Was that one of the most consumer friendly places?
Andy Halko 0:24
Yeah, it’s pretty special. And I think being a founder, myself and business owner, having to help employees through that is not exactly the easiest or, or least expensive. So why do you ask?
Tony Zayas 0:39
I asked simply because today’s guest is Dr. Prashant Srivastava. He’s the co he co founded EVIVE and 2007, after recognizing healthcare was moving towards a consumer model, but there wasn’t anything consumer friendly about that space that cuts the healthcare benefits industry. So he launched EVIVE, and I want to hear all about it. We’ll pull him on here and he could tell us more. So, Prashant, how’re you doing today?
Prashant Srivastava 1:09
Good. Good to see you guys. Hi, Tony.
Tony Zayas 1:13
Wise. Yes. So, you know, we like to kick off the conversation, talking about that space you’re in and, you know, to the point that I have in my notes here, you know, healthcare benefits industry, not a, you know, consumer friendly place. So tell us, you know, high level, what’s the EVIVE all about? What are you guys doing?
Prashant Srivastava 1:36
So Andy, when was the last time you went to a doctor’s office had no idea what things were going to cost and, and found out later how much you owe, right? Try buying a car that way, take this car away, and we’ll send you the bill later. And by the way, there’s no sticker price for it, you have no idea what what is eventually going to end up costing you and so as I said back in 2006, and everybody was sort of heralding the new era of consumerism, health care spending accounts and the like. What I realized was that healthcare benefits were anything but consumer friendly. And there was a lot of data out there so target had just I don’t know if you guys remember, but target had begun couponing using your, your data today, it’s kind of second nature, you go to your, you know, we have a jewel Osco here in Chicago. And if I check out with uh, you know, with milk, it gives me a coupon for laundry detergent, probably because I haven’t bought laundry detergent in 30 days, and I might be out. And so those types of things that sort of keep track of what you bought. And we do this all the time on Amazon today, right? It says, based on what you bought it for, here’s what you might need. Back in 2006, target was just starting that and I said, Look, here’s here’s a way where people are using data to recommend things that you might need next. And in health care, a lot of data exists, right? Every time you go to a doctor’s office, a trail of data is created and sent to the to the insurance company to pay. And that trail of data sort of gets all sort of piled up and aggregated. And a lot of people do in the analysis on the past is it all last year, and your business spent XYZ on cancer XYZ on maternity. But no one’s seen that data and influencing the future. And so we sat down and said, Look, how will consumers have guidance on how to navigate the system, we’ve got to build an intelligent navigation system for people that kind of helps them with what they might need in the future holds their hand and provides shows them the way that’s how you live.
Andy Halko 3:38
You know, the one thing that I always like to try and put it into is, what’s the day in the life of one of your customers to help our audience understand what you do?
Unknown Speaker 3:50
Yeah, so our primary so we sell this product business to business, but our users our real end users, right? So we sell it to a company, such as yours, and then you would offer to your employees who download an app that’s now on their phone. And we keep track of sort of what’s going on in their lives, what medications they’re filling, etc. In a very hyper safeguarded way, but what we might do is we might pop up on their phone with a notification that says, hey, you know, you may want to consider a mammogram, because you’re of the age and risk that a mammogram is recommended for you. And so, that sort of and then we tell them how to get it right and how much their it should cost them and stuff that normal consumers need to make good decisions, informed decision making. And so if you think about sort of us as the as the hopeful assistant that’s keeping track of these health care needs, as people go about their busy lives, right, No one wakes up in the morning and says, What do my benefits cover today? And when they need it, there is not an easy way to figure that out. And so we’re sort of providing both information and a push man to say, here’s what you should consider based on sort of who you are and what kind of risks you have, etc. And pull information on demand. So consumers can can go open the Revive app, log onto a chat bot, ask a question, get an answer, or consumers can go and most likely what they’re looking for is already recommended on the top for them, and just navigate to
Andy Halko 5:22
now curious about a strategic question for the businesses. You know, you’re it sounds like you’re layered on top of the companies, right, you know, at the end of the day, they’re that the true customer, you know, was that a conscious decision or a requirement of the industry? Or Consumer Direct first, and it didn’t work out?
Prashant Srivastava 5:42
That’s a great question. So pretty early on, this is a very strategic decision we had to make, right? How will we aggregate users, and the way almost all of healthcare in America works is you get benefits from your employer. And most employers above about 200 are self insured, which means it’s their dollars. So when an employee goes to the hospital, he or she may use a Blue Cross, Aetna, whatever card, but that card is very similar to the sort of MasterCard merchant sort of system, but it just processes the payment, but the actual cash comes out of the company at the end of the month. And so thinking about how healthcare money flows, right, think about it this way, the employer sets aside a part of money, the employee goes to the doctor’s office, they pay a portion of, of the whole bill and the employer pays the rest. So now we have to think about like, how do we create a win win win proposition, right? The employer wins if you use healthcare wise, in two levels, right. One is you’re healthy and you come to work and you produce the widgets they need or or whatever you’re doing for them. The second is that prudent use of healthcare reduces this pot of money that they have to set aside each year, that seems to continue to expand, you know, over the last 30 years, at rates higher than inflation. Yeah,
Andy Halko 6:59
there has to be either.
Prashant Srivastava 7:01
The second is sort of the employee, right, the employee wins because someone is taking the tedious part of figuring out what they need to do next, and make good decisions and presenting the information to them for free. Right. So it’s a winning proposition to the employee, it’s a winning proposition to the employer. And it’s winning to us because we get to connect these two dots and still produce a, what I would call a public health good in a for profit setting.
I might understand a little bit at the beginning. So I arrived in the United States in 1997, literally, with two suitcases to go to a PhD admission City University. And so I was sort of a young science person I was I was actually, I joined I finished my PhD in three years, I joined what is called Pfizer now in Kalamazoo, you might know it is the facility that produces the new vaccine. And so I was head of technical services there where we build the technology to bring these new drugs to market rapidly and scale them and so on. And as I was doing that, I realized how regulated the pharmaceutical industry is at an hour a day, always had this sort of startup bug inside me. And I thought, Pharmaceuticals is pretty regulated. I don’t I’m a PhD in chemical engineering, I don’t know a lot about starting businesses. And so I went to business school at the University of Chicago. And realizing that pharmaceuticals are heavily regulated, you need the pockets of money to innovate in pharmaceuticals, I decided to turn my attention to healthcare services, and understanding how money flows. And that’s when it’s sort of, I learned a lot about sort of house employers are the ones paying the bills, even though you have the Blue Cross, like all of these things, where you understand really how money flows. And then you identify spots, like the one I described, where you can align goals of various stakeholders in a winning fashion and build a business out of it. And so that’s sort of a tortuous path. I was this sort of mad scientist on the 10, scaling of drugs, creating new medicines to the market, went to business school, sort of to change the orientation I had, you know, I still use my PhD in terms of it teaches me how to break down big problems into small ones and sort of solve each small one at a time rather than sort of stare at something big. But it started out in chemical engineering today. So it sort of is applied mathematics to intense modeling that predicts what you might use next.
Tony Zayas 9:52
So I would love to hear a little bit about just that. You know, the technology that’s under the hood. The prediction As modeling, what are you guys doing? I know what’s under the hood. And how is that happening? Because it sounds pretty fascinating.
Prashant Srivastava 10:06
Yeah. So you know, the key innovation USP for our product is personalization, right? We don’t give you general advice, we don’t tell you that it’s national mammogram and everybody program in this age group, but we are doing is we’re keeping track of each individual’s needs, predicting what might come next, based on a transaction screen that they’ve done, not dissimilar to what an Amazon and Netflix does, based on what you’re watching, right. So they’re tagging what you’re doing. And then they’re applying algorithms like combination filtering, to then predict what they might recommend to you next, our difference, you know, and it’s recognized by the Timmy awards for two years, and people are using it for real good, we’re not selling your genes you don’t want or shouldn’t, or a car, you wouldn’t like we’re applying it to what is really good for you in an in a very neutral way. We don’t get paid by advertising. Recall, right? So it’s not like we’re pushing procedures on you that you don’t need, we’re actually applying becoming a trusted source of information for folks and showing up at their moments that they need us.
Tony Zayas 11:09
Makes a lot of sense.
Andy Halko 11:12
I mean, you know, this is kind of a random thing that came to my head. And we’ve never asked any tech founder this so it’s out of left field. But you know, when you were younger? What did you imagine your life to be? And I’m kind of here and the reason that I’m asking is, you know, I’m always curious, like, Do people know they’re going to be an entrepreneur? Is that something that they envision as a kid? Or is this like a life journey thing that you end up in it?
Prashant Srivastava 11:38
That’s a great question. I’ll tell you my experience of that one, right. So I was I remember I was in fourth grade, right? I, I had a school library that had books falling apart, and I literally bound all the books. And I sort of charged a little service fee to my school. So that was sort of my first entrepreneurial venture. My dad is a business school professor. So I always lived on a bigger school campus and was surrounded by this, he teaches economics, not entrepreneurship. But I was in this setting where, you know, lots of very bright, young people came and sort of talked about business house all the time. But I was not interested in I was hardcore science. I had a chemistry teacher in sixth grade, who totally changed my life, I couldn’t, I had no plan B I was going to be in chemistry or become like a milkman or something. I’m not gonna don’t exist. So thank God, I chose chemistry. But, but that was kind of where I was at. And so I went hardcore. As a I’m not gonna, you know, be like my dad and business, I’m gonna go hardcore be a scientist. And I did it right, I reached sort of the pinnacle of that I was 23 years old, I had a PhD in chemical engineering, I was working on these new drugs, I was living the dream. But at that point, I said, Look, every objective I set for myself, I’ve already reached, I have this dream job. I’m helping save people’s lives by by bringing new drugs to the market, what am I going to do next? And and so that sort of street caused me to think about what has gotten me most joy. And I sort of ran a business with my dad on the side while I was an undergrad in chemical engineering. I had done that sort of little binding thing, I don’t often on things, and I said, Look, I want to be, I want to have, you know, my own business, I want to I have all these ideas. But I didn’t have that framework to say which one is the one I quit my job on, put my house on the line for. And that was what you know, Chicago Booth helped me do is I remember taking this class called commercializing innovation. And every week, the professor, Professor meadow came in and said, Here’s a paragraph of information, would you build a business and fund this business? And each week, we would go out and call a bunch of people and figure out if there was demand for this product, what would it cost? And so that got me the system of evaluating my ideas. You know, my wife at the time would say, Look, stop telling me all these stories that you tell me the one you’re going to do, and let’s just do it. And so I once I had this construct of saying which idea is a good idea, when I came across this one, my co founder, and I decided this was the one we were going to better bet the farm on, and we literally sort of my, my, my youngest, my oldest child was like four months old. And we’re like, look, you know, let’s do it. There’s never going to be a good time to do it. And of course, my dad’s a professor, he’s like, look, is this right? You have such a great job, you’re doing great. And I said, Look, you know, if I don’t do it, now, I’ll never do it. So I gotta go do it. And and once you sort of commit to things, things happen on their own, like, we didn’t know anything about a lot of things along the way. I Viet we started out this business as direct mail. So this was 2006. Seven, right? The iPhone had just come out. And it wasn’t so ubiquitous. So we had to reach our customers users in ways that they were accustomed to. And so we would personalize think of it as sort of personalized catalogs. You might have seen the glands and catalogs are different for each person. They’ve been different for 10 years. And so he said, Look, you know, we can do variable printing different people can different things. And so we learned a lot about you know, the printing industry. To me and stuff. And when you commit to something, I feel like you solve the problem that’s in front of me.
Tony Zayas 15:07
Along those lines, I love that point, you know, shifting from being a scientist, PhD, to a founder and entrepreneur, very different, I imagine. And you said, you know, when you commit to things kind of things happen. So we’ve talked about the idea of, you know, building the plane, you know, on the way down, what was the biggest leap that you guys had to make that you didn’t know how to do? That you had just had to figure out in motion?
Prashant Srivastava 15:40
Well, there’s been a lot of gaps that we have to overcome, right, the first one, as I said to you, like we knew. So I’ve been in a business in between, as I graduated from the UFC, I joined a business that was in the healthcare services space, we help people live better if they had a chronic condition. That’s called disease management today. And so what we would do is we would identify folks who had diabetes nurses would call them and sort of give them advice, and so on. And so I had some familiarity with like the self insured employer space, how they take risks. So I knew how money flowed. I knew a lot of those things. Right? What I didn’t know at the time was, how will we, you know, do direct mailing, for example, which is kind of fundamental, right? You can analyze all these things, but you have no idea how you will get this message out. And so we had to learn all of that find good partners who would do that work. So we would do the technology work, we would do the publishing work. But we didn’t do the printing and stuffing, they did it at scale, right at millions of mailings going out, I had to learn a lot about sort of how postal systems work, and how do we match what is inside the envelope and the address outside because you don’t want to send the wrong thing to the wrong one. And we redesign sort of the envelope so that the address showed through the window, very trivial thing now, but he said, Oh, you know, we don’t have to match the address, because the address shows with a window. So we can assure 100% quality, we don’t have to rely on the printer for that. And so little things come along. But these are critical decisions. By the way, if we get a wrong mailing to the wrong person, write your name on the front and someone else’s envelope information inside. That’s a huge HIPAA problem. And there’s sort of lots of fines for that. And so we had to solve these very critical things. As they came along. One of the key things we did was we sort of kept all the critical things in house. So we outsource and use partnerships for many things. But you know, one of the lessons my co founder, Peter Saravis always said was that, you know, don’t you outsource the fuelling of your airplanes, if you’re an airline, because if those guys don’t show up on Christmas Day, it’s just another day where they slowed work for you. It’s the Superbowl Sunday of airline, and you have egg on your face, right. And so that actually happened to realize one year, so his lesson was, like, don’t outsource anything critical that you must do, right. So even today, we’re on AWS, but we maintain our own data security teams, because that’s core to our business, we have to be, we have to know where everything’s at, we have to know that it’s secure, because fundamentally, without that, we have no business as an example. And then along the way, you know, the technology change, we had to retool building to building apps like we were doing this printing stuff. And when I grew up, there’s a there’s an era coming where everybody is going to be on their phones, we’re about two or three years away from it, we better start pivoting to things that are going to be the future. And we started building apps when I had no experience building apps. But again, you know, as tools have improved over time, we sort of when we committed to that problem, we solved it by you know, sort of, once we identify the problem, scope it out, we have a bunch of people who are committed smart and dedicated to figuring it out. And my role is mostly to identify the problems we want to solve. And then they they sort of get together and we all collectively figure out how to do it.
Andy Halko 18:51
I’m really curious what that initial stage of starting and obviously, you weren’t a tech company at first, but how did you find the first customer? How did you, you know, start getting traction? Like?
Prashant Srivastava 19:03
Great question. So we be in a space that was similar, right? We were, I was at a business with my co founder, where we were helping people sort of live better. And as a result, we had customers who were employers in that space. So we knew some of the people we would want to approach who were forward thinking customers. But it’s sort of the story of one 310 30. Like one gets one customer proof of concept gets you three, three gets you tan, and that sort of gets rolling. And so we knew we had arrived when we met a third customer who we had never known was not in our sort of network and chose to buy the product. We’re like, Okay, now we’re onto something. And then he got the fourth one. And very quickly, we’re after 10. And so that journey today has gotten us to nearly 75 customers, but it sort of all started with one 310 and creating sort of delighting those guys
Andy Halko 19:59
Never heard the one 310 concept before.
Prashant Srivastava 20:02
But so all this this is Peter Saravis my co founders. It just I internalize it’s I say it as if everybody didn’t know it. But But we always talked about like, Let’s get one. And when we get one, three, right, you will get 10. That’s sort of the mantra here.
Andy Halko 20:19
You kind of hinted at this. But what I’d really like to dig into, because I think a lot of our audience would be interested is that transition from a business that wasn’t very technical to technical? Like, what were some of the roadblocks and how did you overcome them? And, you know, how did you shift mentality and staff? And what did it look like to make that
Prashant Srivastava 20:42
neutral? I mean, we were so technical on one end, when you were very sophisticated a data processing, but we were sort of low tech, when it came to reaching the consumer, right? It was male. And so in 2013, we committed to sort of building this business. And what we did was we opened a new development center. And then we started opening it, you know, we said, well, where’s the manpower for this stuff? So we were in India, in Puna, and Pula is sort of the hub of outsourcing BPO type stuff. And what we were opening was a was a totally different business, right? And so he said, where do we go to find these people? And we thought we would go to Chennai, where one of my sort of tech leads was from, but every resume we got was from Bangalore, and we’re like, Well, why are we going to Chennai, every if all the members sitting in Bangalore, so we opened a new tech center in Bangalore, and we let it alone to build this stuff independently, right? So he said, Look, go build out this this framework independently, while we operate this business. And as we sort of deprecated those customers, we built up a new customer base for the new product. And so as we were flying the airplane, we upgraded it, essentially, with a whole new set of people to product organization, a whole new technology team, we still kept the data sort of subject matter expertise. We just merged that into it. And then we took sort of the customer services team and retrain them to sort of to represent a larger product. And that I think, over time, as we’ve done that transition, you know, we’ve lost some people who had a hard time, sort of looking at this change. And that’s not what they wanted to do. And so we’ve sort of evolved as a company. And I think I was at the at the summer outing this year, you looked around, and we might be sort of on the second or third generation of people, he Bibles, but the spirit of EDI, which is like innovate, don’t be afraid of solving a problem that people haven’t solved before. still endures. And so I’m very proud of like the people that are sort of coming in still having that feeling of, I can spot in the Bible, I say, from 10, from 10 miles away, or in 10 minutes. And I think I still see as I look around instead of people who are dedicated to the mission, and are really smart at solving the new problem we have.
Andy Halko 22:56
Was there any big challenge or roadblock that you guys had to overcome it during that upgrade and evolution? And I’m sure it took years. But you know, for other founders that maybe are in a more traditional business looking to go towards tech, like, is there anything that you can give insight to of like, big challenges or roadblocks you faced? Yeah, I
Prashant Srivastava 23:18
mean, I think, look, we had to dedicate ourselves to that, right? You can’t have your feet in both worlds. You can’t say, Well, I’m going to keep growing this stuff. And then I’m going to incubate that on the side. So I think what we said was, look, we believe in this direction, that this is where the world has gone. So all our incremental investment is going into that work. And we actively deprecated customers as that capability came along. And we said, look, you know, even though you’re willing to pay us still, we just don’t want to, we don’t see ourselves in that business. We see ourselves in this business. And some of them came along, they said, Yep, we agree with your direction. We think that’s where the world is going. You want to give people more real time guidance, that guidance in the mail. And some came along and others said, Look, prove it out to me that you can do this digitally, and then go by again, and be deprecated them. So there was sacrifice of business, as did that transition. And we were willing to do it because we believe in the new direction.
Tony Zayas 24:15
Persona, we’d love to hear a little bit about the dynamic between you and your co founder, and how that’s changed over time. So what are the areas like the skill people bring to the table?
Prashant Srivastava 24:27
That’s a great question. So at the beginning, you know, Peter Saravis is my co founder was sort of the head of sales at my previous company. And so we had a very good demarcation he said, Look, you go take care of sales, and I’ll go build the rest of the business and, and and we won’t meet and our board meetings will be you and I. But over time, as the business became more technical, I stepped in to be the president and then eventually the CEO. And Peter took an executive chairman role. So he’s still with the company. He’s still our guiding light. But on a day Today basis sort of, he’s he’s sort of stepped back and allowed me to sort of scale the business is a I talked to him literally every day I send him, I have this thing where we do the New York Times spelling bee in the crossword every day. And I send him mine, and he sends me his and that’s how that’s our way of checking in saying you’re okay, I’m okay. But if it will be a very close relationship, but I think I would say, I’m very lucky to have a co founder who said, Look, this is the stage that requires not my skills, but yours, and you step in or support you the rest of the way. And he’d been a spiritual mentor, a sort of very dear friend. To me, all these years, we’ve been here 15 years together, we used to joke that we spent more nights together traveling in hotel rooms, and we spent it all in in the beginning and for many years, even to the, towards the sort of the tail end of the last 15 We used to room together because we’re like, look, we’re gonna go sit down and watch ESPN a night and go into the meeting at morning, why would we spend on two hotel rooms. And so what we spend a lot of nights together discussing turning the model over its head, you know, chatting over ESPN. And we still do that. It’s just a different role that he’s taken over and, and allowed me to continue to sort of scale the business in the tech, heavy way that it required. When we made this paper.
Tony Zayas 26:24
mentioned that there, he’s served as a bit of a mentor to you. Any others? What are we like, you know, on our show, we like to talk a lot about the importance of mentors and yeah, networks you might lean on, of other founders and entrepreneurs.
Prashant Srivastava 26:39
Yeah, you know, I would say, you know, I’ve had mentors, I talked about my sixth grade chemistry teacher, I totally changed my life here was a kid sort of running around decently intelligent, but I had no idea what he was going to be. And suddenly, I couldn’t be anything but but a chemical engineer or a chemist. Similarly, I was in engineering school, and I was like, Yeah, I have a job, I’m going to go do it. And I had a professor who said, Look, you know, you really have a lot to learn, you should go do a PhD. And, and he really believed in me, and I did some research for him. And that gave me the self belief to like, take two bags and go to the United States. I’d never been outside of India before. So imagine this kid, sort of, you know, I’ve watched Baywatch. A couple other things. But instead of what I knew, this was pre internet days, I’m dating myself, but I arrive in Michigan. And you know, I think, wow, it’s the summer, right is August, I have I’m like, Oh my God, this whole country looks like a golf course is beautiful, gorgeous. And then winter arrives, I’ve never lived in a place, you know, there is less than, I’m gonna say 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and suddenly it starts to snow. And for the first couple of days, I’m like, super enthusiastic, like a little kid, then I realize, Oh, my God, this is kind of cool. I better do something about this. But you know, but then again, I come here with a very specific idea in mind what I wanted to do, and it was in the oil industry. And I suddenly got a mentor here, who was a who’s in the biochemical space. And Dr. Horton sort of changed my view of the world. He said, Look, oil industry is is interesting. But it’s not where the future is. And the future is in biotech. And so you want to be at that. And so I told him, he said, Yeah, that sounds like a good idea and jumped right in. So at each stage, I think I’ve met a person who said, look, here’s a, I believe in you, and here’s, here’s where the world is going, you might want to think about it. And I’ve been sort of fortunate enough to take that risk. And, and jump in and comment. Similar thing happened, you’re on business school, and sitting there thinking, what am I going to do? And then I sort of run into this woman, Judy Hicks, who is the CEO of focus health, and that’s a healthcare services company. And I started doing like a side project for her. And she’s like, why don’t you come around and focus on and that’s when I got to learn about the interchange of money in the healthcare services, space, self insured employers, so like, all these mentors along the way, have come along, at a very pivotal point in my life, where I’m thinking about what the next thing could be, and encouraged me to sort of take that risk. And, and, you know, I’ve been sort of a risk taker all my life. And I say that, if it feels right, do it, what’s the worst that happens? You’re gonna reinvent yourself. I changed my setting from India to us. I became an entrepreneur from being a chemical engineer. But these things happen because someone sort of believed in me and said, You can do it incrementally.
Andy Halko 29:34
You know, one thing we’ve talked about on the show a couple of times other founders and that I like to really investigate because most people don’t talk about is kind of the mentality emotions behind it. So you mentioned about jumping in and taking risks. What do you think it is, and you have like traits that help you do this and, and then also for your journey of being an entrepreneur, how do you how has it affected Did you kind of mentally emotionally?
Prashant Srivastava 30:03
Wow, that’s a very heavy question.
Andy Halko 30:06
We don’t make it easy here.
Well, you answered that tough question, amazingly. So I will just tell you that was, and I love the idea of vulnerability. I agree with you, I think, you know, that’s so important to kind of build into yourself if you don’t have it. Just to kind of go back a little bit on some of the stuff and talk about family. And your father, you know, taught business school, I’m kind of curious, how much do you think your your parents impacted your journey? And how much have you thought about like, what you do day in and day out impacting your children’s? Yeah.
Prashant Srivastava 37:07
You know, I have a therapist I work with sort of on a regular basis, and be sure to examine these things a lot. My, you know, like my dad’s work ethic, and mine is the same like my brother was in town last weekend, we were talking about it. And my brother and I have both the same work ethic, like if you told us to work seven hours a day, 24 hours a week, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and said at the end of that you will get X, you’ll accomplish it, we will do it for a finite period of time. No problem. But so my dad sort of had brought that work ethic along my mom sort of, again, my family favored educational accomplishment a lot. They were professors, we were living on an academic campus, every kid was academically gifted and, and working hard. And so we grew up in an environment where you had to be, you had to be academically successful or in pursuit of something, make something of your own life. And so that sort of gave me the motor to say, look, I can do more, right. My dad sat in a little town, a little village, he never went to school until sixth grade, he ended up with a PhD. And so I was like, Look, if he had, he gave me the benefit of a world class education from the day I was born, I can do more, I can be a better impact on the world. And so that was always there. My dad also helps countries build plans to develop their rural areas, farmers. That’s what he does, as an agricultural economist. So he’s built development plans for entire countries. And I always thought he had such a great legacy on the world, he had helped the country’s left poor people get farmers, their produce to markets, he has built supply chains. And so my way is that I always thought I wanted to do something that would impact the world, something to identify. And so as I came out of graduate school at Michigan State, I had lots of sort of opportunities in the oil industry in the biotech industry. And I took the one in the pharma industry, because I thought it gave me a chance to do something. So, you know, that influence always remains. I think the big part that has happened to me as I examined my own sort of life is that I, in addition to valuing accomplishment, which I sort of was given this motor from my parents, I’ve also valued community a lot. So I’ve tried to build community around me, you know, we, my wife’s family lives in town, we get together every Sunday, you know, the cars, the kids get to hang out with the kids, we’re sort of that value sort of exists at eBuy. We all get together, we sort of surround each other with with more support than what traditional employment feels like, right? People have friends at work, they hang out with them. The idea of sort of building community has become really important to my own life. And I sort of I talked to my kids have the legacy that I wanted them to know that I valued sort of family and we have family dinners each day. I both show up to every event that they have my sort of my non binary challenges texted me about his grades this morning. And I sort of enjoyed each each test, I know everything about friends. And just the idea of sort of taking a genuine interest in those are those two are not not mutually exclusive accomplishment or this pursuit of sort of doing something good in the world, and building a family community are not mutually exclusive in that’s what I’ve learned over time and that are important to me. So that’s the legacy. I told my kids I said, Success for me is not you guys becoming more accomplished Success for me is staying close as a family and you wanting to come live by me or visit me all the time, over the years. And so that sort of sets a high bar for how we do it. But again, you know, we spend a lot of time on family therapy is to make sure that we’re sort of creating healthy relationships and interactions at home. And so I think that’s all sort of an investment in that community, in general.
Andy Halko 40:57
Sounds like you have great work life balance, has it always been that way? Because I think a lot of struggle with work life balance, you’re
Prashant Srivastava 41:05
generous, I’m calling it balance, I call it work life integration, right? So it’s sort of my work in my life, sort of, even before the pandemic, I used to tell employees like, Hey, you have to go home because the cable guy is going to come at four o’clock, go home, right? Because you also, when we asked you to get up at five in the morning and talk to guys in Bangalore, I want the same person on board, right? It’s sort of like balance in that way. It’s not, I don’t think I have this concept of like, I work from these hours to these hours. And I have family from these hours, I do have limits, right? I have limits where I even said to my kids, I said, we’re gonna eat dinner from six to seven. And I don’t want your friends, all these things meetings to be in that hour, you can do anything else the rest of the time. And so we, you know, we tried to set boundaries, but I think I would say work life integration is more than norm and the pandemic has made it much easier and much more real for most people.
Andy Halko 41:59
Tony Zayas 42:03
So, Prashant, you’ve built a company here over what is some? What does the team currently look like? And any advice that you have for founders who are a little earlier on in the journey about finding the right people? Because hiring can be
Prashant Srivastava 42:26
I wish I had made all the exactly right choices. Hiring is the hardest thing. When you have a small team of committed folks, it’s sort of relatively easy, right? Everyone’s sort of in the tribe and going to battle. And as you start to expand that circle, you hope that the gist of what you add sort of remains as we get bigger. And so a lot of time is spent in sort of maintaining that culture and values. Because I’m no longer interviewing every person that comes to the door. Right. And so I think we talk a lot about sort of maintaining, what is it that makes a person successful at revive? And we’ve learned that over the years, many times when making mistakes, we’ve thought we hired people from larger companies, who could come help us scale. And sometimes we realize that, you know, what we need is really people who are much more comfortable with living with ambiguity, and they are not. Right, and so they walk in expecting that there’s a set of SOPs to do their job is like, no, no, no, you have to write the SOPs and build the system. And so I think, I think if you hire for sort of fit, and now we sort of combine that with experienced people who have lived this stage of the journey, because we need different skills, as we scaled the business, people who have done this at other businesses, not necessarily much bigger in size, etc, but just at this light type of business are helpful. Our CTO has been a CTO three times our CFO has been a CFO, four times of similar size, growth, next round of growth for us. And so they’ve seen some of these patterns will make different mistakes, but at least they’ve seen some of the more common ones as they’ve gone through their journey. So they bring a very rich set of experiences that helped me sort of know how to scale this business because I haven’t done this is my business. This is the only one I have I haven’t gone up and, and and, and come back and started a new one. Perhaps I’ll be wiser the second time, but this time, I’m relying on the advice of others.
Andy Halko 44:29
So one thing that I always try and ask and I know, this is another tough question, but, you know, if
Prashant Srivastava 44:35
you’re only asking tough questions, you’re going, I don’t mind
Andy Halko 44:40
it, you know, I’m never looking for a silver bullet. But I like to find out was there a catalyst during the growth of your business like something that was majorly impactful to change the trajectory of growth? You know, and yeah, so, is there anything that you can identify that That happened like that. Yeah, great
Prashant Srivastava 45:01
customers that showed the way. Right. They great customers who said, We trust you for what you’re doing today. But here’s other things we think we need you to solve. That sort of helped us think about what to do next. Because oftentimes, like, I wish I had a, I had an eight ball, they told me exactly what’s going to happen tomorrow. Instead, what I have to do is read tea leaves, from other smart people they were they’re putting some clues out there for what other problems they might think are important to solve. And are saying, can we solve those with the expertise we have, right, we know how to deal with data, we have a passion for connecting the dots and solving those problems, right? And then we have sort of this economic engine, our customers telling us, what is it that we can solve for them next, and so being able to listen to them, and then adding sort of environmental information, etc, like the world is changing to iPhone, etc, allowed us to kind of evolve the business, but the customers are the key, you know, they have needs, and if we listen to them, and can solve them sort of in a scalable way, because you can also go down rabbit holes where you’re solving one customer’s problem, that’s one customer’s problem. And so you have to discern which ones are more general and which ones are not. But we’ve had some very great customers who are visionary sort of hetero benefits, who are thinking about the world in the future, that have sort of helped me think about how we help our business solve new problems and grow.
Andy Halko 46:32
How have you balanced? You know, obviously, your background science gives you unique perspective, but you’re not a programmer? How have you balanced building a company that relies on tech from that perspective, when you don’t have the direct, you know, capability?
Prashant Srivastava 46:52
So I know enough that that no bullshit happens, right? This is going to take a month, I can tell you whether it generally should take a month or not. If you asked me to do it, I’m not that you don’t want me to be architecting, your, your AWS infrastructure, right. And so my role, I think is sort of to define where we’re going, what makes sense. And then I rely on our folks with the right checks and balances and conversation and trust, that sort of is repaid by them as trust in me and my trust in them to kind of build that out. So again, you know, we have experts in each of those fields, we have a security expert, who’s fantastic world class, we have a CTO is world class. We have a head of engineering, and he’s architect world class, but none, those guys sort of do their thing. And I try to sort of do mine, and we sort of have our bond trusses. We’re all headed in the same direction we have the line. Be careful to that. That sounds
Tony Zayas 47:59
so Prashant, what is the next 12 months look like for the business? I’d love to hear what’s on the horizon.
Prashant Srivastava 48:06
Good question. So you know, we’re we’re taking this technology, one, making it ubiquitously available. So we started out at sort of making it available to very large employers and SBF sort of scale and evolve and mature that we’ve said, Look, everyone should have access to this. So we’re sort of going to smaller employers and saying we’re now mature enough, we can deploy easily enough. We have good configuration tooling, where we can make this easy enough for a smaller customer to deploy. So that’s one the other is for deepening the types of things we’re doing so we started out in benefits. And we said we want to make benefits easier for people to understand and connect them to the right programs. What we have learned is that over the course of our sort of interactions with with companies that they’re also trying to personalize the entire journey, they’re trying to personalize onboarding, say, how can we do that better and give better advice. Because typically, when you join a company, you get like a fountain, a hose of information that you have to sift through and you’re suddenly in this new space and trying to get your bearings. And you have to make benefits decisions, you have to make job training decisions. And so we can sort of personalize that journey step by step with the same technology that we use and benefits. I’ve also never met a head of benefit a head of HR who said my training systems are fully utilized. Everyone’s using my learning management system, improving their skills, right is the same problem. Like I’ve never met a head of benefits, who said my diabetes program is being used by all my diabetics. The fact that we can connect people to things they need, applies more ubiquitously to them than just to benefit so we’re taking our core technology of matching people to what they should need to learning to onboarding to financial matters. And so we’re now saying, Look, we have a platform that allows more generically for people to connect to things they need programs and research We applied it to benefits and diabetes and musculoskeletal issues, blah, blah, blah, we can apply the same to learning, we can apply the same to ongoing. So that’s where we want this to become the interaction system, the employee experience system between the employee and how they experience that employer benefits being one part of
Andy Halko 50:21
how do you drive and keep everybody in the company kind of aligned towards the vision that you have as a founder?
Prashant Srivastava 50:29
Well, I think we have. So we have a, we have a strategy session coming in today’s Friday session where we’ll talk about each of these things. And then each group will come back and say, what do they think they need to do to kind of to support this vision, and then we’ll say agree on a set of common objectives for next year. And sort of we have these sort of quarterly so we can check in as the market changes as the world changes, how are we continuing to stay aligned? And so that’s sort of one effort. I wouldn’t say that these are all perfect. But I think we try very hard to make sure that we sort of explain, put everything out there because I want people to make the decision as if they were, I was sitting with them every day. And we have to have all the facts of where we’re going.
Andy Halko 51:15
Yeah, makes sense. So a question that I like to ask all founders, as we’re kind of getting close to wrapping up is, if you were able to go back in time and have coffee with yourself before you started, what advice would you give?
Prashant Srivastava 51:32
Oh, wow, um, I think I would say, Pay more attention to the team. Like hiring, I think we sort of take for granted that people that look like us meet, like us feel like I said, the right fit. And, and for a lot of times, what we have benefited most from her was for people who brought different skill sets and points of view. And so you know, what we have learned over time here is, is you need a lot of different points of view to get to the right solution, sort of. And that’s what my definition of any viver, as I talked about before, relies more on that sort of basic sharing of curiosity and, and willingness to sort of take risks and stuff like that, to solve new problems. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that there’s only one type of person I think, had I known that sort of early on, we wouldn’t, we would have made better hiring decisions, to make sure that we bring in people with a variety of backgrounds and interests. And that I you know, over to you only learn by making hiring mistakes early. It’s no one walks in is sort of I wish I was batting 300. That’d be a great ball. It wasn’t. There are many times, you know, we buy people and, and what you do is you lose time, each time you sort of make a hiring mistake, you’d lose time that you can’t get.
Andy Halko 53:02
Yeah, I totally agree. And, you know, I’ve had my business 20 years and people is all you know, people is that center point. But it’s not an easy, easy thing to figure out, right? So pretty fun. Awesome. So how can our viewers find you or get in touch with you or learn more about
Prashant Srivastava 53:24
if I was at go ebeid.com gobiv.com. I’m on Twitter as Dr. Prashant one I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Facebook, but not an active user. So I wouldn’t recommend that. Buy. But But LinkedIn would be the best way I think if you want to know, talk to me or or have a conversation. I’m happy to help. By the way, I firmly believe that concept of mentors coming along, I pay it forward. I’m here for advice. I’m not interested in sort of in, in in monetizing my rolodex, I’m more interested in connecting you, other founders to the right, folks, because that’s what other people did for me. And yeah, if you’re thinking about a business you’re and upgrading it, need somebody to have a sounding board on I’m happy to help. It’s awesome. Especially in this space isn’t the only space I know, by the way, so if you want healthcare or tech, I’m happy to help everything else. You’d have to ask my wife.
Tony Zayas 54:25
Yeah. That’s awesome. overshot. Thank you so much. This has been outstanding. I guess last thing for those tuning in. It’s is it go if I’m calm?
Prashant Srivastava 54:37
Yeah. G O Evi ve for technology. Viva for life. Evi b.com
Tony Zayas 54:44
Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing, Danny.
Prashant Srivastava 54:47
Thanks, Tony. Thanks for having me.
Tony Zayas 54:51
Next time take care. Bye