Office Hours: I’m the Founder & CEO of Health in her Hue. I’m Ashlee Wisdom. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Ashlee Wisdom, Founder and CEO of Health in her Hue, a digital platform that connects Black women and women of color to culturally sensitive healthcare providers, health content, and community support.

Our mission is to leverage the power of technology, media, and community to improve the health outcomes for Black women and other women of color.

Before working on Health In Her HUE full-time, I worked for an advisory firm, Junto Health, where I was the Program Director for the Strategic Ventures Group, an exclusive consortium of nationally-ranked health systems investing in health technology. I took this role specifically so I could learn how VC worked, and how VC worked within the context of healthcare.

When I’m not working, I love going to brunch, riding my peloton, going to quaint coffee shops with free WiFi, reading books about race and intersectional feminism, and traveling. Some of my favorite countries include Cuba (I studied abroad there in grad school) and South Africa.

Ask me anything about healthtech, well-being, health equity, finding a good healthcare provider, fundraising in digital health, advocacy, my favorite coffee shop, the books I’m reading, the podcasts I’m listening to, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @AshleeWisdom!Elphas – please ask @AshleeWisdom your questions before Friday, February 23rd. @AshleeWisdom may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi @AshleeWisdom - I was thrilled to see your AMA here! My question is more personal...I saw that one of your investors is Unseen Capital, founded by my dear friend Kayode Owens (may he rest in power) and likely yours as well. What did he see in your business that other investors did not at that early stage? What advice from him has stayed with you? Thank you ❤️
Hi @kirinkalia ! Wow wow wow thank you for asking this question. I miss Yode so much ❤️. I will never forget when I met up with Yode to pitch HIHH sitting in my friend Ivelyse's backyard. She told him I was raising and that he needed to speak with me, so he came over and we sat in her backyard and he asked me two questions: "why do you care about this problem?" and after I answered that he asked me, "Why you? Why do you think you're the one to build this solution?" And from those two questions I could tell he really wanted to invest in founders who felt a deep connection and commitment to the problem their company was focused on addressing. Yode was the first institutional investor to commit to my pre-seed round, and if it wasn't for his check, I don't think I would have raised that first $1M for Health in Her HUE. He truly believed in the mission and he believed in me and that meant so much to me. *whew! writing this response got me emotional* ❤️ I am grateful I got to benefit from his legacy. May he rest in power.
THANK YOU for sharing this with me (and everyone here), @AshleeWisdom. This is SO Yode, every detail, and I'm so glad you met him when you did, that he saw your potential and felt your connection and commitment and wrote that first check. You are exactly the kind of person who deserves funding to build the business the world needs, and I will always cheer you on!! Yode believed in me before I believed in myself ❤️ I want to pay that forward by supporting founders HE believed in. I'm sorry I didn't find you sooner, but perhaps this was the right place at the right time. Please reach out directly if I can ever be helpful. I'm on LI and Twitter and DMs are open.
Hi everyone! Thank you for these great questions and for the love and support! I'm looking forward to responding! 😊
Hi @AshleeWisdom late to the party here but I only just saw you AMA and love what you’re doing so hoping you’ll pick this up! Curious about what your biggest objectives and challenges to get there are right for HUE? Thanks Jessie
Hi Ashlee –Thanks for sharing your story with us! what is one (or some) of your favorite success stories from Health in Her Hue?
I love quaint coffee shops as well – what's your all-time favorite coffee shop and what makes it unique for you?
My favorite coffee shop...hmmm this is a tough one. It's a tie between two: Double Dutch Espresso and Lucille's Coffee & Cocktails (both in Harlem, NYC). I love the rustic and low key ambiance of both. I spent a lot of my grad school days at Double Dutch Espresso so it means a lot to me in that regard. And Lucille's is unique because at 4pm it turns from coffee shop into a speakeasy/ lounge, and they have live music on some evenings. I like the transition because it helps me remember to wind down from work.
Hi Ashlee! Thank you so much for making the time for this. I know Cuba is renowned for its healthcare professionals – how did your experience studying abroad in Cuba influence your perspective on healthcare and technology? Did it also, in part, inspire you to start Health in her Hue? Thanks in advance!
What books have you found really resonated with you?
A book that's really resonated with me recently is "All About Love" by bell hooks. And also, "The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture" by Scott Belsky
Have been following Health in her Hue & love to see it! I'm curious if you have one or two top learnings from building a health company that you could share - specific for women or folx of color, specific to healthcare/tech, or whatever is top of mind.
Thank you for following the journey, @jessicafajardo !! My top learnings would be to stay anchored in the mission of what you're building. It will be your guiding light and anchor through all of the difficult decisions you'll have to make throughout your journey of building the company. The other learning that is specific to folx of color is, that your lived experience is your super power and core to your genius, so don't let anyone make you feel or think otherwise (and when you treat rejections as protection vs. taking it personally, it makes this journey a lot less painful because there are A LOT of "Nos"). The other top learning is that you are as smart and efficient as the people you surround yourself with. You absolutely must surround yourself with people who are smarter than you in specific ways that can be accretive to your business and to your own personal and professional development. If I didn't have the amazingly brilliant and connected advisors that I have, this journey would be 1000x harder.
Hi Ashlee, Congratulations on your journey and all the great work you do for the community. Truly inspiring! I am a Product Manager with no experience in Healthcare Tech but I’m looking to break into the space. Would you have any advice for me to develop skills in the domain? Any resources that can help me find my path would be very helpful. Thanks in advance.
Not a question but I love what you're building and was so inspired to see your MVP was built on a no-code platform! I think I saw one of your previous posts on here.
What support did you need when you were starting the company? Who/what was the biggest external support that help propel Health in her Hue forward?
I don't have any Qs now. But as a Black woman working in user experience for healthtech, just want to applaud your wisdom (sorry couldn't help it) and leadership in a space where we're often treated inequitably. Health equity and travel are both passions of mine (visited 5 countries last year!). I will follow you and your company on Linkedin.
Hello Ashlee, I have been following your journey for quite some time! What an inspiration.Q: What would you say is the most impactful channel for you to grow the business?
What trends in health tech are are you most excited about right now?
Hi @AshleeWisdom, I absolutely love the mission of Health in Her HUE! Congratulations on your journey. I have a background in the tech industry and love to see when tech innovation is paired with improving the lives of everyday people. I'm also a book addict. What books you've been reading lately?
Thank you, @ashleybrazil !!Some books I've read recently are: "Walk Through Fire" By Sheila Johnson (the first Black woman Billionaire) "Necessary Endings" By Henry Cloud"Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter" By Liz Wiseman"Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers" By Geoffrey MooreA book i'm reading / listening to now:"Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and The Meaning of Liberty" By Dorthy RobertsBooks on my next-to-read list are:"Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine" By Dr. Uché Blackstock"Imagine Freedom: Transforming Pain Into Political and Spiritual Power" By my mentor Rahiel Tesfamariam
"Necessary Endings" sounds like a wonderful read. I'll have to add that to my to-read list. And "Imagine Freedom: Transforming Pain into Political and Spiritual Power" is already on my to-read list. We definitely have overlapping interests! Looking forward to speaking with you further!
What do you think are the biggest challenges healthtech startups face for being in healthtech (as opposed to general startup challenges) ?
Because healthcare is very regulated there are many considerations that go into how health tech startups develop their solutions and plan their go-to-market strategies. The long sale cycles are also a challenge for B2B or B2B2C health tech companies. Selling into healthcare organizations often involves complex decision-making processes, regulatory considerations, and inevitable budget constraints. Convincing healthcare organizations to adopt new technologies requires building trust (which takes time) and also demonstrating clear benefits and ROI (which also takes time). And for D2C health tech companies, the customer acquisition costs can be significant, especially because consumers / patients aren't accustomed to having to pay directly for health services, the expectation is that insurance or employee benefits should cover those costs.
As someone who learned about venture capital in healthcare on the job (and also raised $3M in funding! if I'm not mistaken), what are your major takeaways about fundraising in the digital health space? And particularly for platforms focusing on minority groups?
Hi @kalyn179 - thanks for this question! The last job I had before working on Health in Her HUE full-time was working for a consulting firm where our clients were strategic healthcare investors and I learned so much in that role. Because I knew the nuances of working with strategic healthcare investors, I knew that they would be more appropriate investors as HIHH matured, but not the ideal investors in the earliest stages. To raise the pre-seed round I focused on angel investors and only entertained taking institutional capital from VCs that 1) had a clear health focus 2) invested in pre-seed and seed stage companies 3) were intentional about investing in underrepresented founders. I would also say it's very important to find a community of founders in the digital health space because they can provide support on a founder-to-founder level and can also make helpful introductions to investors that can speed up the fundraising process for you. I think it's important for founders who are building platforms focused on underserved groups to demonstrate to investors the economic cost of not addressing the issue your platform is focused on solving, and also clearly articulate the value of the solution to 1) the community you are building for and 2) the person who will be paying for the solution. There needs to be a clear and compelling value proposition to the person / institution you are trying to target as the customer of your product (e.g. health system, health plan, employer, etc.)
Hi @AshleeWisdom are there any particular books you read along the lines of "reading books about race and intersectional feminism," that were pivotal in your decision to develop Health in her Hue and helped to inform you of the necessity to do this work?
Hiya Ashlee, thanks for sharing your journey with us! What's one of the biggest obstacles you faced building Health In Her HUE, and how did you overcome this?Also bonus question: What are some things you've learnt about taking care of your own wellbeing whilst building a startup?
Hey there @aatikaseedat! Thank you for this question. One of the biggest obstacles I faced was figuring out how to build a minimal viable product (MVP) to prove that there was demand for a product like Health in Her HUE. My background is in public health and I have *zero* coding or technical experience, and I was bootstrapping so I couldn't afford to pay developers. I got scrappy and learned about no-code solutions that will allow you to build an app without code. And then I was fortunate enough to connect with an amazing software engineer who offered to help me build the first MVP using the no-code platforms (we used Glide and then Adalo). That software engineer is still working with me today and she is *phenomenal*. The MVP got us the traction we needed to get the attention of and support from investors to raise our first $1M.One thing I've learned throughout this journey is to prioritize therapy!! Therapy has helped me stay in touch with my body and mind to allow me to set healthy boundaries for myself and with others so that I am able to do this work in a sustainable way. Lately i've also been prioritizing having a movement practice. Finding 30 mins each day to step away from the work and move my body.
Thank you so much for your response @AshleeWisdom, I love that you went for a different approach to developing your MVP! I feel like its so easy for founders to get overwhelmed with creating a technically perfect product VS focusing on getting your product into your customers hands ASAP.And I love that you brought therapy and healthy boundaries up!
Hi @AshleeWisdom Thank you for sharing your time with us. Congrats on all your success with funding and relationship with Johnson & Johnson! Yay! I have other questions but I must start with 2 pressing ones. :) What audio and video podcasts are your favorites right now? How do you like your coffee and where? That question comes from my passion around podcasting that is translating to business to support healthcare tech/clinical professioanls in marketing/messaging their business via podcasting. My background in healthcare is in technology/product/operations. Also I have sadly been aware of these inequities with black women maternal health, men's mental health, general state of US/global health, HIT, and queer health across the the system. Next, what resources would direct someone to interested dually in entrepreneurship and working in leadershp at digital healthtech startups. My entrepreneurship interest is in leveraging my podcasting/marketing expertise to help them get their message out there. Many wonderful health tech are trying to reach populations but they dont know about them. Also there is tremendous power in storytellling audio/video. Also I am dually interested in companies seeking leaders such as myself experienced/successful in healthcare, technology background, grad school, and passionate about the space. What spaces can I join because I think more women, people of color, and just those with diverse background in healthcare/startup/entrepreneurship, etc. as leaders may make healthcare better for all? Audiobook recommendations on Audible: I am listening to Black Women in Civil Rights Movement by Dr. Manuel-Scott at George Mason. I had to mention Dr. Manuel-Scott saw you went to Howard.Thank you again. You are awesome and inspiring!!Lisa