Lisa – Welcome to the Atlanta Startup Podcast, the briefing room for the innovation ecosystem. I’m Lisa Calhoun, your host and general partner at Atlanta venture capital firm Valor Ventures. On this show, I bring you the investors, the founders, and the activators creating the fastest emerging venture capital ecosystem in the country.

Lisa: Chrissa, welcome to Atlanta Startup Podcast. It’s a joy to have you on the program.

Chrissa:

Thank you for having me.

Lisa:

You know, I was just saying you look fantastic and I was showing you my glittery Valor V t-shirt. It has feels like yesterday, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen your face. You have been so busy with Patientory and the book. Catch me up. What’s been going on the last couple of years for you?

Chrissa:

Yeah, well I can’t believe we’re in the same city, but it feels as if I’m never here. Of course building Patientory is, you know, we are pioneering in the space of blockchain in healthcare. And we’ve seen a lot of adoption on the international front and especially smaller countries like Singapore, Dubai, especially in the UK that have actual blockchain adoption strategies in place. So with Patientory, you know, we’ve been building up our consumer community the past three years, especially after our famous token sale, we now can boast over 35,000 people globally. That’s part of our community. And then we’ve also, you know, been focused on building our enterprise brand as well in the healthcare space. I was just named a thought leader for him digital as an HIMS Digital Influencer as they look to really start to bring emerging technologies into healthcare. It,

Lisa:

One of the things I remember from some of even your earliest pitches was your passion for the patients and their privacy. It comes out of your own experience. You could share with the listeners a little bit about how you came to build Patientory and solve for identity protection…?

Chrissa:

Yeah. Well, I mean, as complex as it sounds, it’s really simple. It started out with, you know, a simple thought, you know, I’m an individual, why don’t I own my information, you know, from time of birth.

It started out with me. I’m just such an organized person and I like record keeping everything. But you know,, I was always into science and healthcare has been a passion of mine since a young age. I was going to go into actually practice in medicine but really fell in love with the business of medicine and then really experienced in digital health. We call it digital health industry, which is still fairly new.

A little over a decade. I was with a telemedicine company. It was a day to day challenge of just getting an access to patient’s data. Like the doctors can’t even, you know, really effectively treat the patients because they didn’t have all that history, which would have helped them save so much time in the process, especially as we start to adopt newer technologies. You know, especially telemedicine, where it’s like you’re messaging a doctor on an app, we have a long way to go.

Lisa:

It sounds like, with the global perspective you have with Patientory, a lot of other countries or communities are adopting things differently than the U S –enlighten us, share more–

Chrissa:

A lot of these other countries, their health system, it’s run by the government. Whereas in the U S you know, we have much more of a competitive market. So we have over 5,000 health systems that all have different types of electronic medical records that are actually competing against each other even, you know, because they don’t want their patients to go elsewhere. Whereas you have countries that run on a national health system where all that information is actually in one place, even if it’s not in one place, you know, it’s owned by one entity. So it’s, it’s a much easier feat to get that in the hands of the individual.

Lisa:

And is that where Patientory is finding its latest traction?

Chrissa:

Yes,  from our consumers. And then, you know, we’re working our way into the enterprise market as well.

Lisa:

I noticed we’re both heading to Dubai. I’m going for the Kauffman Venture Capital Summit. And you’re going for this crazy cool watching healthcare summit…?

Chrissa:

So it’s the third year, it’s actually hosted by Smart Dubai which is the government entity responsible for the adoption of blockchain throughout the city. So it was back in 2016, Dubai launched their Blockchain 2021 strategy. So they wanted to be one of the first cities to be on blockchain across all industries by 2021. That’s like tomorrow. So in 2018, they launched the Future of Blockchain Summit because they saw that, you know, they, they didn’t, they didn’t have a clear pipeline to actual companies and projects that were built in blockchain solutions in the space for their different industries. It’s a way for them to bridge the gap with companies all over the world who want to build and start business. But also, you know, raising capital in the middle East and especially in Dubai…

Lisa:

Speaking of raising capital, one of the things that our listeners are often interested in is real stories on raising capital. And you have a unique one, but believe it or not, not everyone has heard it. I wondered if you could not necessarily share things that you’ve had to share a dozen times, but if you were going to boil it up and have three things that you would tell other founders that they should focus on around their financing journey, what would you say?

What is your key advice for other founders?

Chrissa:

I would say it’s, you’re always raising right? And it’s, it’s built in relationships. So you may not see, you know, a particular fund or you know, entity as a, an investor now. But it’s always good to, as they say, you know, drop breadcrumbs rather than, you know, have just this line of miscommunication or on communication. So it’s always important to start building relationships early and follow through and follow up as much as you can.

Lisa:

Dropping breadcrumbs is a big deal. I speak to founders daily and they’re like, well, so what’s the next step? And I’m like, well, there’s no immediate next step because we can’t finance you in the next 30 days. However, one wonderful way to get to know each other is updates. And a lot of founders seem to find that yet a fresh idea–sending updates. I encourage them, it doesn’t have to just be potential investors. I mean, your executive team, your mentors, your coaches, other founders you care about, they’re all around the company in the early days. And they’re all candidates for that shout out on a regular basis. I mean, is that something that you, a practice you advocate or what, how would you recommend founders go about laying down breadcrumbs?

Chrissa:

Right. it’s funny story. I was at a networking event last night and I saw an investor who I was talking to three years ago and he comes up to me and is like, ‘Oh, you know, I saw the newsletter two days ago and I see you guys are doing the Dubai event. But I want to follow up cause I really want to know more like of what’s going on, you know, from those updates’. So hey, I mean it might, it might seem, you know, like you don’t want to do an update that month, but I would say it goes a long way. That’s a practice that showed up. You know, it should be there. Even if it’s someone you haven’t talked to in three years, you never know.

Lisa:

Good advice. Is there anything else from the investor fundraising journey you’ve been on the last few years that you would say is a lesson learned that you’re ready to share with other founders?

Chrissa:

Yeah, I mean, when I first started to fundraise, it was definitely a challenge in a difficult time, especially because of the industry I was in. The, the stage of the company that we were in, you know, at the time, most investors we talked to didn’t really understand that the bridge between blockchain and healthcare or didn’t see the, our path to revenue. But it actually taught me, you know, a lot more about really performing, you know, what it takes to perform as, as a startup you know, in this competitive landscape. So, you know, it really helped in, in really clearing out, you know, really get him down to our value proposition and really strengthen in our core focus of what we provide as a company.

Lisa:

That is such an important thing. I do think the market is competitive and that competitiveness can either be perceived like you perceive it– this is the bar I’m going for it. Or as you know, why am I being challenged like this? And you know, the quality rises there. There’s no doubt about that. So when it comes to building the company, I know you’ve reached out to a lot of, a lot of people in and outside of the Atlanta area, but focusing a little bit on Atlanta, are there one or two people that you would give a shout out to and just let the listeners know, Hey, these are some really intelligent folks in the Atlanta startup community worth reaching out to and getting a read?

Lisa:

Yeah, well, I mean, I, you know, the past couple of years I, I met with the Atlanta CEO Council. They’re, they’re like all, you know, entrepreneurs at heart, you know, with both successes and failures. And I, and I, you know, they’re just so passionate about helping Atlanta startups and founders, you know, exceed in the space and, and they, they connect us with industry veterans or just corporations in the Atlanta area. Which I think is really impactful and helpful. As well as, you know, the team over at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. I mean I would think they came up with the choose ATL Cohort. I was a part of it back in 2017 I think that was our first cohort. But you know, just seeing, you know, that I’m in a city–coming from New York, coming to Atlanta–being in a city where we have direct access to the Chamber and in the city that’s really highlighted–entrepreneurs but also minority entrepreneurs–as beacons of light.

So I thought that was pretty cool and awesome. I haven’t seen that elsewhere.

Lisa:

It’s like you’re reading the script cause I was just going to ask you, what makes Atlanta unique or special for founders? Like if you’re talking to a global audience of founders or even a national audience, cause I know you have a very broad perspective. What do you like about Atlanta? What do you think the strengths are this startup ecosystem relative to the others you’ve been involved in? Like New York?

Chrissa:

Yeah, I mean it’s, it’s definitely, it feels like a small close knit community. And I would say, you know, that that’s one of, I’m going back to my previous comment, one of the beauties of, of being a part of the city and building a company in the city. I mean it’s really the access to people, you know, in other cities you might not more or less have access to.

But the fact that, you know, I would say across the board, you know, people have come around is really passionate about seeing the Atlanta startup ecosystem, but also the culture. Really thrive as our, as our city continues to grow. And so you just came on and said, you know what, I am doing a lot of promoting of my book.

Lisa:

I don’t know much about your book. So this is a huge opportunity for me to tell me all about it.

Chrissa:

Great. I’ve been doing a lot of, you know, traveling, speaking engagements and it came to me that I was actually around this time last year. I was like, I should just write a book because you know, most of my travel, especially to other countries, you know, I was more or less one of the only minority female founders there.

So it was always, you know, a part of me to want to share, you know, how can I basically put it out there to, you know, help increase more diverse founders in this space, but not only to empower but to share my journey. And I, I go through different mindsets in the book as to the, the founder mindset, the woman founder mindset. So my book is called Future Women.

And it goes through these, about, I would say about 20 mindsets that female founders should have, especially minority female founders should have when started a company. So, not only a tech company, but, but just that mindset in, in any type of company and the challenges that you make face along the way.

Lisa:

That sounds so pertinent.

Give us an example. What is one of the 20 mindsets? Just the one that’s kind of come, come up for you right now?

Chrissa:

One that just comes to the top of my head–it’s finding your why and staying true to yourself, right? Because when you build a company day in and day out, you can always lose sight as to why you’re doing this in the first place. Right. Cause it’s, it’s not easy. But I feel if if as founders, you have those core values, you know, set in stone and you begin with that from the beginning. It really helps. And, and putting everything into perspective, you know,

Lisa:

I agree with you and I would add to that. It also reenergizes your heart. I know for me as a female founder, I I often take my own advice and that I try to stay close to the things I am passionate about as I’m building. Like I’m very passionate about Valor obviously. I was talking to a female founder earlier this week and she was telling me about a startup she was going to build in social media and it was very convoluted and I said, ‘what do you, what’s the end game?’ She told me the end game was starting a real world business that served at-risk youth and she was going to do the other to make money so she could do the one. My advice was to go ahead and jump right into the thing that you’re passionate about because life is short and you’re not promised tomorrow and the energy of what you’re building, if it’s close to your heart,is a renewable source of power for you. But if you’re at several removes from your renewable source of power, it’s easier to get depressed and discouraged.

Chrissa:

Yeah. And then you meet failure and then you’re like, why did I fail? It’s like, cause you weren’t doing what you loved. Right.

Lisa:

It’s just hard, you know? Right. I mean it’s, it’s hard. So. That sounds like a fascinating book. How can people get a copy of it?

Chrissa: Well, it’s currently sold on Amazon. We published it and launched it back in December, 2019. We are one of, you know, Amazon’s new bestselling books for that month. So you can, you know, go on Amazon and Google my name Chrissa McFarlane or the book Future Women.

Lisa:

I love it. Thank you for sharing that. Now as you’re building out Patientory and looking to the future, what types of advisors or executives who are you trying to build into your team in terms of roles?

Chrissa:

Yeah. I mean when I first, and this helped with, with, you know, knowing my why when I first started the company, you know, it wasn’t a big deal if they didn’t come from health care. But after going through that phase you know, we made a I made really a conscious decision to find healthcare related people because they just saw things differently and they had a different passion about them because healthcare is hard.

 So we’re, we’re currently building out our team, more on the operations and sales roles to develop the, to help support and launch the platform. But in just advisers, you know, while I didn’t necessarily start with all healthcare industry related advisors, which is okay cause they, they brought that diversity. You know, we’re really looking for expertise in challenging the status quo as to where healthcare is today. You know, as we go through a lot of the regulatory changes that are happening. So we were looking really looking for those, those people that are, you know, experts in that area, experts at challenging the status quo in healthcare, apply here, at Patientory’s web site.

Lisa: Thank you for sharing that. Is there any other type of role that you know is top of mind for you before we move on?

Chrissa:

That couple I can get more techie, you know, anyone that has been in blockchain, you know, and, and understands blockchain and want to again challenge the status quo you know, our arms are wide open as well.

Lisa:

Terrific. So,. what are you working on this quarter with patient story? What are some of your, your goals or KPIs that you’re, that are top of mind for you?

Chrissa:

The moment we are getting ready to launch our public version of our consumer app at which is going to be at HIMS in March. And then as well as our enterprise version. We’re one of the, we are the only healthcare company, but the state of Oregon actually launched the Oregon Enterprise Blockchain Venture Studio, which we were a part of this past summer. So we’ve been working with partners in, through that initiative. And then we’re looking to start to build out more partners to join based on the work that we’re, that we’ve done. So we’re in the process of releasing a joint peer review journal in the next couple of weeks.

Lisa:

Awesome. Okay. That’s, that’s a lot to be biting off in the next few weeks, but really exciting stuff. Yeah. So as you look to future investors and I should really ask, do you believe you’ll have another investor as you build out Patientory, or do you think there’s a role for future investors?

Chrissa: Oh, absolutely. That’s one our initiatives for at least the next two quarters as well. With, you know, we, we did the token sale. We’re actually in the process of a seed round. Which we look to get to our bridge us to our series A hopefully in the next by next year or the end of the year.

Lisa:

Give me a couple points on who the ideal seed investor is to you and as you see it, what are the qualities of that investor in addition to the capital?

Chrissa:

Yeah, I mean, so this, you know, we’re looking for investors who can also leverage our current partnerships. So you know, that this stage we’re really built in the foundation but can also help us map out, you know, what that foundation is, you know, or solidify what that foundation is for, for growth in the next phase. So making sure we have all our ducks lined. Basically.

Lisa:

Are you looking for a healthcare specific seed lead? Is that is on your roadmap?

Chrissa:

That’s part of it. Yeah, that would be one of them. So we’re looking for at least, you know, a couple of partners to, to fill that out. And do you have any specific would be, yeah, I’m not at the moment. You know, we, you know, we’ve been always looking for that investor in Atlanta. Cause unfortunately we don’t have any Atlanta investors . . .

Lisa:

Join the club. There are a lot of great founders in Atlanta that don’t have an investor. There are very few venture investors in the Southeast relative to the rest of the country. It’s interesting I’m doing all I can cause there’s a per capita game going on here that just won’t quit. We have 38% of the U S population and less than two dozen venture capital investors. Whereas when you go to the Valley or New York, you’re, you’re clearly up into the hundreds. So the density is really in a totally different place here.

Chrissa:

Yes. And I don’t know if that’s cultural. I mean I’m sure you’ve done studies or looked into it, you know, I don’t know. So yeah, I mean that would be great if we can actually get someone from Atlanta, you knowcause we, we love the city so much and we call it home. So, but we’ll see.

Lisa:

I know. Well good luck in that. And if someone wants to reach out to you around your seed round of how should they reach out or if someone wants to be an advisor, it’s through your website or maybe what is your preferred method of contact?

Chrissa:

Yeah, so I mean our website is there. I also get a lot of requests on Twitter apparently now I’m like, because I’m such an influencer, I write for Forbes. I get so many requests on Twitter now. So you can reach out to me.

And then of course you can always either also LinkedIn is also a great, great platform as well.

Lisa: Great. Well thank you so much for sharing some time with us today and your story. This is great to check in and it’s not going to be so long before we check in again. I would certainly love to have you back on the podcast in a few months after Dubai in March and hear what’s going on with Patientory.

Chrissa: Absolutely. Thank you. And if anyone is interested. The future blockchain summit is hosted in Dubai April 7nd.

For press inquiries:
Write to info@patientory.com
Call 678.951.9007

Lisa:

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