What the Tech?!

Shrey Anand.jpg

Shrey Anand

CEO and Co-Founder of WaiveTheWait

Interviewer: Steven Zhang

Q. Shrey, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

I am currently a master's student in Biomedical Computing at Queen's University. I am [also] the CEO of a small company called WaiveTheWait, which is a patient engagement company dedicated to optimizing the clinical operations while making healthcare comfortable for everybody–the patients, doctors, and the staff.

 

Q. In your opinion, what are the most important qualities for a successful startup founder?

Much like most things in life, being a startup founder is all about understanding risks and understanding really who you are, as well as what you are trying to do. It's really abstract, but really understanding why you are even in this world or why even taking such big risks is super important because it helps you align what your vision is. For example, for me, and for a lot of my colleagues, it's understanding that the healthcare system is broken here in Canada. We've all been experiencing horrible things throughout our lives within the country and [for now] we want to fix nursing. That's our primary goal, and we will do whatever it takes to fix this and it is what drives us.

 

Q. What is something you enjoy about being a startup founder?

I never saw myself as someone who's stuck in one place, and never really saw myself doing one thing over and over again. I love and adore the new experiences I've gotten to see and feel as a startup founder. Whether it'd be meeting with top level CEOs and directors from across the country, to really understanding a marketing channel or the best way to reach out to people, to just building a software from scratch all the way up and seeing your clients and users use it.

 

Q. What are some examples of day to day tasks that one might do as a startup founder?

The most important thing that I do is meet with members of my team, with my colleagues and the people who work underneath them [to] make sure that everyone understands the vision, understands the goals and sees what's going on. Usually a few hours is spent in just meeting with different people to make sure everyone [is] on time, on task, and on track to achieve whatever the goal is. And I spend a lot of time also working with clients. I usually take an hour or two every day just to meet with clients, talk to our customers, make sure that they're enjoying our product, and since we work with clinics, it's two parts–we work with clinics to make sure they like it, as well as their patients. We make sure that patients are liking it, checking our analytics and making sure everything is up and properly running. And then another few hours are spent on just development work. I like to keep my hands dirty and develop myself. So I always make sure I'm working in the cloud or working in the backend, and making sure everything is properly updated and providing the best service possible.

 

Q. What is a common misconception of being a startup founder?

You always see online, on movies and TV shows and you hear a lot of speeches, especially motivational ones, who keep talking about, “oh, fail fast and fail hard.” You know, it's all about taking “big risks,” and “going far,” but no, startup founders hate risk. Every effective and smart startup founder–and I’m not saying I’m one–knows that you should never want to risk and the goal is to avoid risk as much as possible. It's just that you have to be clever about it. Just avoiding risk should not hamper you from reaching the goal or vision that you want to set out for yourself in the first place. So I think that's the biggest misconception. People think we like risks. We don't, we hate risks, it's just that we don't let it hamper or freeze us from getting to what we want to do.

 

Q. What are some of the biggest challenges of being a startup founder?

I'm going to start off with a challenge that we face a lot in the beginning [but] learned a lot [from]. In the beginning, we were too focused on the wrong type of people. We were too focused on the product itself. We fell into the trap that most–especially computer scientists–but most STEM people face, where we fall in love with the product and the code we designed, and we don't fall in love with the problem itself. And so we ended up building things and then creating things that–people love. Don't get me wrong, people loved it–but not the people we wanted loved it. For example, in the beginning, we were focused on wait times within clinics. And so we built solutions that patients were adoring and would use in a heartbeat. But at the end of day it is the clinics who have to pay for it and all the clinics hated it. We just kept not understanding what was going wrong. And it took us a year to finally realize that we were targeting the wrong people. We should have been targeting the people who actually mattered. In this case, those are the clinics themselves–their owners, their doctors, and their staff. And so, I think the biggest challenge we had to get over was the lack of fundamental understanding of who our customer was.