On customer engagement and weathering COVID as a startup: a conversation with HIPAAtrek's founderFeatured

I spoke with @sarahbadahman, co-founder of HIPAAtrek, an integrated platform helping organizations create, manage, and customize compliance programs. Prior to founding HIPAAtrek, Sarah worked in the broader healthcare space, where she found, first hand, that compliance tools were incredibly segregated. She was doing HIPAA related consulting around this time and was inspired to create HIPAAtrek to automate and streamline many of the major workflows her clients needed. Sarah and I discussed her advice on finding co-founders, division of work in early stage startups, engaging customers in feedback, and weathering COVID-19. Sharing feedback may not be a sign of criticism but rather an indication of a vested interest. When Sarah was first launching HIPAAtrek, someone shared feedback that the idea was great but the execution would need much more work. At first, she was heartbroken by the feedback, but then, this individual introduced her to the person who later became her co-founder and CTO! Find and stick to a clear division of labor from the start. In the beginning, Sarah tried to work closely with her CTO and outsourced developers on the engineering of the product, but it became apparent that her comparative advantage was outside of this realm, and in fact, having too many people in the code base was counterproductive. So, Sarah and her CTO agreed to revoke her access to the code base so they could each focus on their respective spheres with Sarah concentrating more of her time on the product design, developer feedback, and creation of wireframes. Give discounts to your customers in exchange for deep feedback. HIPAAtrek provides select clients with a discounted product in exchange for 4 feedback calls on the current product as well as their pipeline features. Use COVID-19 as an opportunity to make an impact and educate potential customers. HIPAAtrek has been giving their software for free to help smaller hospitals and communities especially hard hit in states of emergency. In this way, HIPAAtrek creates goodwill with these institutions while allowing more people to experience the value add of the HIPAAtrek product, which may have downstream positive impacts in growing their customer base. Have daily calls and frequent meetings to check in with your team and clients. HIPAAtrek is a small team of 5. To keep morale high in the face of headwinds and remote work, they try to stay in constant contact both for action items as well as to show general support for each other. Moreover, having catch up calls with clients for work or even for fun can be quite uplifting and shed light on ways in which their software continues to create impact. COVID-19 presents a great time to focus on internal projects. At HIPAAtrek, the team is working on developing channel partnerships, building deeper client relationships, and putting together COVID-19 related resources, blog posts, and videos for their clients and the broader community. Give your employees the freedom to engage in the creative, mission serving projects that are most interesting to them. When they enjoy their work and find meaning in it, the group morale will increase as well. Looking forward, Sarah is hopeful about the tailwinds the pandemic may present for telehealth and increasing personal care accessibility, especially in rural and other underserved areas. With greater regulatory complexities, Sarah is looking forward to the greater opportunities for HIPAAtrek to better serve more clients as well.