Luke Fletcher is the co-founder of Foxo. Foxo is a platform for health professionals that makes the way clinicians connect, communicate and collaborate with others outside of their network safe and seamless. Having come from a medical family, Luke has seen first-hand some of the communication challenges facing the industry, so helped create Foxo to help prevent medical errors resulting from miscommunication.
Luke also has a solid career history in tech, marketing, and design. As a result, his knowledge and expertise have helped create an inspiring medical brand that cuts through the white noise. We’re feeling incredibly inspired to hear more about how Luke and his co-founders navigated this journey, so we caught up with him to find out more.
Who are you and what brand did you start?
I'm a creative professional with over 26 years in the tech industry. For much of my adult life, I have lived and breathed marketing, design, and tech. My experience has been diverse, ranging from co-founding a digital agency in my early years to more recently working in a senior global marketing role for a large ASX-listed technology company.
I also come from a medical family and have seen first-hand some of the communication challenges facing the industry. In 2018, together with two doctors, I co-founded Foxo.
Foxo is a communication and collaboration platform for health professionals. It provides a highly secure and compliant environment where clinicians and administrative teams can interact in real-time, focusing on patient care, with wide accessibility from desktop or mobile devices.
By iteratively co-designing Foxo with doctors and engineers from the ground up, we've been able to build powerful workflows that allow individual practitioners and healthcare teams to not only message but undertake a host of other interactions instantaneously. These range from medicare compliant e-referrals, secure clinical image and document sharing, patient-centred case discussions across multi-disciplinary teams, and the broadcasting of organizational messages across the broader Foxo network. And there are plenty more great features in the pipeline.
A notable point of differentiation from most medical messaging apps in the marketplace is that we have designed a solution to traversing communication silos within healthcare by delivering true cross-organizational communication to the industry. Transitions of patient care are a high-risk time in a patient's journey. It's during these transitions where miscommunication often occurs, leading to medical errors that may result in patient harm. We've made the way clinicians connect, communicate and collaborate with others outside of their network safe and seamless.
Where Foxo has been deployed, healthcare organizations have realized significant improvements from internal communication efficiencies and improved engagement with external health professionals. The bottom line for these organizations is more streamlined, effective patient care, cost savings, and revenue generation.
BRAND IDEA - how did you come up with the idea for Foxo?
The healthcare industry is inundated with sterile, uninspired brands. We studied the successes of global SaaS enterprise brands such as Slack, Canva, and Xero. It was clear that if we were to cut through the white noise and demonstrate that we were bringing a fresh product to the healthcare industry, it was essential we had a novel and memorable brand. We wanted a name that was both memorable, unique and had character. Foxo is just that; a slick, four-letter dotcom that can’t be misspelt and won’t be forgotten. But it did take a few nights of deep and meaningful discussion!
Having an inspiring brand is not just about standing out from competitors in the eyes of our customers. To build the very best, we look for the best engineers, developers, and sales teams the industry has to offer. A brand that is inspiring and dynamic helps us in our recruitment process.
BRAND LAUNCH - take us through how you launched Foxo.
We initially undertook rapid prototyping with a representative sample of health professionals consisting of general practitioners, specialists, pharmacists, and administrative staff. We used real-time feedback to improve the UI and uncover new workflow improvements iteratively.
From there, our team developed a functioning, low-cost, offshore proof-of-concept product to further trial with a growing test user base. This allowed us to continue iterative design and A/B testing of product features.
At that stage, we had significant confidence there was both a real market demand for our product and a significant market opportunity. We recruited our first software engineers and developed a scalable beta product.
In 2019, we were fortunate enough to be awarded Ausindustry’s Accelerating Commercialisation Grant, which allowed us to quickly scale our team and commercialization activities. We signed on our first commercial customers on the back end of that grant and have continued to grow steadily since then.
ONLINE STORE SETUP - what are your top 2 tips for a successful Ecommerce store setup.
Market research is essential, but one of the best ways to gauge market demand is to get a product into your customers' hands early.
- Tip #1- Adopt a 'Lean Startup' approach. Build a minimum viable product, get it into the hands of customers early, and iteratively design and build it from there. A product is never finished. If you wait until you have what you think is a 'perfect product' before you go to market, you're probably going to fail. You may end up spending countless hours and dollars developing beautiful features no one wants.
- Tip #2- Finding appropriate funding is crucial. In terms of funding your business, always be on the lookout for non-dilutive funding sources. These include local, State, and Federal Government grants and cash prizes from pitch competitions. If your business is developing a novel technology and generating 'new knowledge,' you may be eligible for Research and Development Tax offsets through the federal government.
These funding sources can help you bootstrap your startup in the early years and get your business into a decent position in the market before you have to raise external capital.
CUSTOMER RETENTION - what has worked best to attract and retain customers?
We use both direct sales, channel partners, and marketing campaigns to acquire new leads. In our early stages, we have been highly focused on ensuring the success of our high-profile enterprise customers, so we have been somewhat targeted in how we approach the market.
Foxo has been designed as a self-serve platform. Users can download a free version of the app from the App or Play store or register with the web app and be operational within minutes. We’ve made the user experience as seamless as possible. There is in-app live help with our support team, a comprehensive in-app help center, and a feedback portal. New leads can easily connect with our team via social channels or through our website chat and email portals.
Despite its ease of use, healthcare communication solutions are mission-critical. We have a dedicated Customer Success officer who works with enterprise customers to ensure they realize the most from the product and identify any problems or opportunities as they arise. We use these learnings to leverage the success with other customers within the same vertical.
SOCIAL - what are your top 2 tips for successful use of social media to engage with customers.
- The first tip is to find the social media that works for your company. We engage with our customers via LinkedIn, Twitter, and to a far lesser extent, Facebook. It is much better to do one social platform well than multiple platforms poorly. For our Australian customers, engagement on LinkedIn seems to work best.
- The second tip to achieve effective community engagement is to give your customers something of value. There is little point in only providing advertisements of your latest product features day in, day out. Your audience will tire of you quickly if all you do is sell to them. Educate your audience, engage with them, build a community and learn from them. Their insights will be invaluable. Be consistent, be available and know what you stand for.
BUSINESS GROWTH INSIGHTS - how has Foxo changed and evolved?
We have been focused on ensuring the success of our early customers. Consequently, we have been more interested in achieving strong user engagement rather than total numbers of users. While our user base has shown continued growth, our daily active user has continued to increase and sits at >40% at the time of writing. For our customers, this demonstrates strong user engagement and a sticky product. Organizations that have deployed Foxo have quickly become reliant on its core feature to support their day-to-day operations.
MANAGING CHANGE - what are the top tips you’d suggest others adopt to safeguard their business.
Covid changed everyone's routine last year. Fortunately, Foxo had already adopted a 'work from anywhere approach from inception. We've employed engineers from Alice Springs, North Queensland, and even Montreal. This was well before the pandemic, which, when it hit, only further reinforced the merit of our approach. This remote work approach allows all team members to spend more hours per day in the business, but not at the expense of personal and family life.
The pandemic also saw the Foxo team pull together quickly to develop solutions the industry was calling for. For instance, our team quickly developed a new product feature during the first wave to allow enterprise users to push organization-wide broadcast messages. The entire team really came together well on this project, and they put in many late nights to get the feature out as quickly as possible. Our customers requested this as a priority, and we delivered.
FUTURE BUSINESS PLANS - how is Foxo doing today and what does the future look like?
We are on track for commercial growth this financial year. Having recruited our two sales leads and director of customer success, deployed an integrated CRM (Hubspot), and formalized commercial agreements, we have built the foundations for a scalable and successful growth phase. We are currently focusing on Australia, key verticals - Radiology, Oncology, Pathology, Aged Care. We have completed our HIPAA compliance, signalling we’re ready for North American expansion
We’ve also made promising inroads with our channel strategy. Foxo is now seeing new interest from HealthIT service providers to provide better engagement and support to their healthcare customers. We have an integration partner located in North America who is a market leader of Picture Archiving Communication (PACs) across the region. Our integration can be easily deployed within their product, instantly enabling thousands of users. Our ongoing conversations with prominent multinational software vendors for integrations and partnerships is a strategic play to showcase our capabilities and viability for acquisition.
ENTREPRENEUR INSIGHTS - what has been your biggest learning experience since starting Foxo?
My biggest learning experience is understanding that it is all about people and building relationships. It doesn't matter how good your product is; it becomes impossible to meet the client's needs if you don't have the right people working with you. To build the best product, you need to build the best team. As they say, 'no man is an island.' I think it is very difficult, if not impossible, to create the very best entirely on your own. I've learned that through experience, and my goal is to build the very best team recruiting exceptional talent at all levels of the business. So you need to ask yourself, why would others want to come and work with you? Define and nurture your company culture from the outset, know what your company stands for, and stick to your values.
ONLINE BUSINESS TOOLS - what are the business software tools you couldn't live without?
Foxo was ‘born in the cloud.’ We utilize several modern business tools to get the very best out of our team. G-suite by Google is vital. Whenever we have to push out content - be it a grant proposal, marketing material, or an investor deck, our team can quickly collaborate and work on documents together and seamlessly. We couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
Six months ago, I would have also said Slack was a critical business tool. Our entire team – founders, sales, and developers – used Slack to communicate and run our day-to-day operations. However, we use Slack far less than before. Today, most of our daily communications are actually run in a ‘closed-in’ environment on the Foxo platform itself. It serves our needs just as well as Slack (we think better!), and more importantly, it allows our entire team to appraise Foxo’s performance, workflows, and resilience critically.
See what ecommerce tools other founders are using.
SELF DEVELOPMENT - what are the educational resources you’d recommend?
There are too many to list them all. Our team reads and listens widely. There is a lot you can learn from people who’ve already been there. Here are some of my personal favourites:
- Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. This book is a ‘must-read’ for anyone starting out in the B2B SaaS world. The book provides a framework for how early-stage companies who have had traction in the early market (e.g., early adopters) can crack into the mainstream market by tightening their focus and becoming a market leader on a specific vertical - ‘big enough to matter, but small enough to win.’ Our team comes back to this philosophy time and time again when forward planning, allocating resources and looking at new opportunities.
- The Business of Platforms: Strategy in The Age of Digital Competition, Innovation and Power by Michael Cusumano. This book provides a great overview of the differences between platform businesses and stand-alone product businesses. Through their network effects and third-party components, platforms can drive incremental value to users above and beyond what a ‘linear’ product business can do. The authors describe the attributes of good platform businesses and some of the risks and hurdles these businesses must overcome to achieve success.
- Masters of Scale Podcast. This podcast by Reid Hoffman, the founder of Linkedin, covers a vast range of information relevant for any startup or scale-up business, including topics such as product-market fit, when to scale, capital raising, and building a board. The interviews are usually with experienced founders, which makes it all the more useful.
INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE ‘shout-out’ - who have been the most influential people for you during your brand journey?
My previous boss Eric Troyer was an influence on my creative process and continues to influence my business acumen. Much like my brand journey, Eric’s has been diverse combining creativity and entrepreneurial experiences.
FINAL WORDS OF INSPO - for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Keep pushing yourself to do better but be resilient, be prepared for failure, and know that for every problem, there is a solution.
At Foxo, one of our core values is CAN-I:Constant And Never ending Improvement. We’re always trying to do things better – technically, operationally, and in the way we serve our customers. It’s a great motto to live and breathe.
Any startup is hard work and founders must be prepared to hear the word ‘no’. Healthcare is no exception. By its very nature, healthcare is risk-averse. Anyone entering this space needs to be resilient, patient and must take a long term view. It takes time to build trust with healthcare organisations who often see greater risk in adopting or piloting solutions from newer and capital-poor providers than from established incumbents. My recommendation is to start building your network and relationships early. Be consistent with your message and know what you stand for.