Office Hours: I’m the Head of Customer Success at Komodo Health and a Venture Partner focused on healthtech with The Council Fund. I’m Rachel Tsui. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone!

I’m Rachel Tsui, and I lead the customer success team at Komodo Health. I joined to help build out the team for a new business unit focused on non-life science customers and now oversee both our life science and non-life science customers. I also recently joined The Council Fund as a Venture Partner focused on healthtech investments.

Before Komodo Health, I was in customer success, business development, and sales ops/enablement at Science Exchange, an R&D marketplace platform. I started my career as a scientist, receiving my PhD in biochemistry from UCSD, but decided to leave academia and join the consulting life at ZS Associates before moving into the tech world - I didn’t have a straightforward path to get where I am today!

During my downtime, I enjoy training for marathons (recently picked up trail running around Marin!), reading thrillers and mysteries, and traveling around with my partner and daughter.

Ask me anything about non-linear career progression (such as moving from academia to tech), building and scaling teams and customer success, innovations within healthcare, getting into investing or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @rwtsui!Elphas – please ask @rwtsui your questions before Friday, May 31st. @rwtsui may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi @rwtsui Thank you for stopping in today. Komodo Health is a great fit for your background. Do you have any tips for finding organizations where there is a convergence of one's expertise and company culture? How does your scientific background show up every day in your leadership style? What is the difference between the trail workouts around Marin versus your previous fitness approach? It sounds just like more fun. Thank you again! Lisa
Hi @lisa02coleman - Finding the right company culture can sometimes be tough. I think it's important to determine for yourself what your priorities and values are and ensure as you interview (whether informally or formally) to ask questions where a certain answer would either validate why you want to join or trigger a red flag to not join. In terms of the trail running around Marin- it's something that I've added to my workout routine just this year, I used to be much more of a road runner (marathon/halfs) but it's fun to get some of the awesome views through trail running.
What advice would you give to someone looking to build a sustainable career in health tech? Are there any specific technical proficiencies or skills that you would suggest honing?
Hi @clairmclafferty I think it would depend on which function you are interested in pursuing! You can see one of my other answers below on transferrable skills, but strong communication is always a great one to have. In terms of technical proficiencies or skills, understanding how to analyze large amounts of data so that you can take action based on the data is always a helpful skill set no matter what industry you are in. For health tech specifically, I would recommend ensuring that you are really thinking about who the end user is and the system they are working within. Healthcare in the US is very complex, with a lot of different players (payers, pharma, patients, clinicians, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.) so it's important to understand who the players are, how they interact with each other, what their incentives are, and where your health tech company fits in within that ecosystem.
Thanks Rachel for doing the AMA! Given your non-linear career progression, I would love to hear your top insights or advice. What you would have done differently to get to where you are now? or How not having a linear career progression has benefited you? Any advice for a marketing strategist wanting to enter the digital health space without a degree in Biochemistry?
Hi @KarenWLam - I always wonder if I would have chosen something differently, since hindsight is 20/20! I do think that having an academic scientific background has really enabled me to think very critically in a variety of situations and attack a problem from several angles. In terms of advice - I'd recommend getting immersed in the industry. This might mean reading articles or listening to podcasts on what is the current news that's happening within the digital health space. This allows you to start understanding what the problems are and the opportunities in the space, and you'll start learning more about what areas within digital health your interests lie.
so wonderful meeting you, Rachel! Thank you for your time!Do you have a diligence framework when considering a potential investment? And given your sector focus, are there specific kpis you look out for to evaluate a business in digital health? And are there areas of healthcare you feel more strongly than others?
Hi @iynna! Yes - we do have a general framework that we use at The Council, and I also have a framework whenever I consider angel investments. For me - it's primarily: 1) Does this problem exist and need to be solved, 2) is this founder/team the one that I think is uniquely positioned/advantaged to solve the problem, 3) how much traction do they already have? For digital health, because of the complexity, I like to see that the founding team has experience in healthcare, and that they are thinking about the unit economics and who is ultimately paying (for example if payers, is there an existing path for reimbursement?) And in terms of areas of healthcare, health equity is a big one that I'm super passionate about right now, and I'm seeing a lot of interesting companies tackling ways to serve our underserved/vulnerable populations. I'm also excited about all of the strides made in women's health, especially those beyond fertility/sexual health such as general women's health.
i looveeee this! & i deff have some deals for you to look at! :) Excited to trade notes
Hi Rachel, thank you so much for joining Elpha for Office Hours! Could you share more about what you do as a Venture Partner with The Council Fund? How many pitches do you see/month and how many do you invest in?
Hi there! Happy to share more about my work with The Council - as a Venture Partner I support the fund in sourcing and conducting due diligence on deals and providing support and advice to our portfolio companies, especially the healthtech ones. I probably see anywhere between 15-25 pitches a month, and we invest as a fund in about 10 companies are year!
Hi Rachel, I'm excited to hear from women like you who are interested in helping startups grow. I'm also a graduate of biochemistry. Just sent you a connection request on LinkedIn.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us, Rachel! What do you think are skills that employers in the field are looking for a candidate to already possess before joining their company in this type of role, and what skills do you think can be learned on the job? As someone looking to transition from non-profit communications, I'm always curious about where to channel my skill development.
Hi @ninajoung - this is a really fantastic question and really timely given the job market right now. I love your growth mindset in thinking about skill development and ensuring you have some great transferrable skills in the market. For me (and I am biased of course towards the commercial side given my experience), I always think candidates with strong communication skills, organizational/attention to detail, and problem-solving/analytical mindset are really great to have. I would expect that the level of each of these skills may vary based on the candidate's experience, and also the expectations for the role I am hiring for. For example, a more junior role would expect to have someone who has good communication skills, can be organized, has the ability to think critically, but they might learn more about influence and deeper analytical skills on the job. With a more senior role, I would expect them to be very strong on all of these, and they would be able to learn the job specific industry/customer type/product once they have started.
Thanks Rachel! As a founder in healthtech (women's health) I'd love to hear your advice for early stage company founders considering current investment landscape. Many funds/ angel investors who used to support pre-revenue companies before aren't currently doing so. From your experience at The Council, what are the strategies that work for fundraising?
Hi @LanaKazantseva - it is definitely much more challenging without revenue, but not impossible! I usually like to see some sort of traction, whether it's design partners or pilots, and both of those are typically pre-revenue since they are helping you with early iterations of the product. I also like to see that you have a robust and thoughtful GTM strategy in place to support your path to revenue, as you might go direct to customers, through partnerships, or other channels.
Hi @rwtsui, Thanks for doing the AMA! I’m currently trying to make a similar career pivot (higher ed student affairs —> edtech customer success), and I have to admit that I’m finding it much more difficult than I expected. I’ve had a few interviews but can’t make it past the hiring manager round. What is your advice for those of us trying to pivot into tech in today’s ultra competitive job market?
Hi @amywhitley thanks for the question and I certainly empathize! It's a very competitive job market and I always advise folks to create and cultivate your network for the job hunt wherever you can. That might involve cold-message outreaches to other CSMs within the company you'd like to interview at to do some informational interviews and seeing whether they would be willing to refer you so you can stand out within the applicants. I'd also ask where their team's priorities are so that you can think about ways to incorporate how you can add to their achievement of those priorities. I'd also suggest asking the interviewers where you haven't moved past the HM round whether they have feedback so you can incorporate that into the future. You might not always hear back, but if they do provide some it can be incredibly helpful. Lastly, I would recommend ensuring you have some examples of how you parlay your higher ed student affairs work into edtech customer success. This can be done through some of the informational interviews where you ask about the day to day and use those to ensure you highlight your current work into relevant examples for them.
Hiya Rachel, thanks for doing this AMA, a few questions for you:- Which innovations/ changes in healthcare are you most excited about?- When transitioning from academia to tech, which challenges and opportunities did you encounter that surprised you?- Having become a Venture Partner, what's one thing you wish all female startup founders knew?- And lastly, do you have any advice for women juggling motherhood, their careers, personal relationships, hobbies and life in general?Looking forward to what you have to share!
Hi @aatikaseedat! Thank you for the questions. I'll try to answer a few of them below: - I'm really excited about many of the healthcare companies that are targeting health equity, including many of our very underserved and vulnerable populations. Many of the innovations in digital health have focused on commercially insured populations (rightfully as that is where the initial dollars are!) but I'm excited to see that as we have had more government focus on health equity within Medicare and Medicaid, there are opportunities to still build a high revenue business in underserved populations. - When moving from academia into the professional world, I think the biggest challenge was some of the basic "professional skills." Consulting was a great professional boot camp for me, where I learned to enhance my storytelling with deck/slide making, figured out how to build financial models/forecasts in excel, and strengthened my communication style live and over email with clients of all levels. - Advice for women juggling motherhood/career/life? For me over the years it's become increasingly important to ensure that I take the time to take care of myself. For me that means that I need at least 30 min a day to workout (quick run, yoga sesh, or even some pushups/situps/squats combo). This might be different for each person, but the daily time protection has been really helpful for me.
Any advice for getting hired at Komodo Health? It's on my short-list of interesting companies and I'd love to hear any insider tips & tricks :)
Hi @elisegatsby - I'd definitely suggest reaching out to folks on LinkedIn in the same function/role you are interested in to see if they are willing to do an informational interview!