For healthcare IT start-up Doctible, culture is king

Doctible Chief Executive Ajit Viswanathan says culture is key for the health care information technology start-up to attract and keep talent.(Union Tribune photo)

Since the beginning of the year, San Diego’s Doctible has grown from 22 workers to 55 employees.

For Co-founder and Chief Executive Ajit Viswanathan, the growth has Doctible’s management working hard to retain the start-up’s energetic culture.

“You can have personal relationships when you’re at 22 employees,” said Viswanathan. “At 55, it gets a little bit tougher. But we still can create an environment where our culture is intact.”

Founded in 2014 by Viswanathan and Leon Hu, Doctible makes software that automates back office tasks primarily for doctors in private practice, while also giving them tools to engage, retain and get feedback from their patients.

Doctible’s patient communications and retention platform integrates with the physicians’ existing software stack. The company began a rapid expansion last year and now has more than 2,500 customers in 49 states. Doctible has raised $4.2 million in venture capital funding to date.

Viswanathan and Hu emphasize the company’s culture first and foremost. That landed Doctible on the San Diego Union Tribune’s ranking of top local workplaces for small companies.

Viswanathan recently discussed the steps Doctible takes to be a good place to work. Here are some excerpts.

Q: Where do you find workers – universities, competitors?

A: San Diego is a tough job market from an employer perspective. It really depends on the type of role we are recruiting for. For example, if we are recruiting for our development/product team, it was extremely hard with the platform that we use to find people inside San Diego.

It is not for lack of trying. At the same time, we are a start-up, and we don’t have all the resources to spend on recruiting that others may have.

But a couple of our most recent hires on the engineering team have actually been from out of state, and we found it very fulfilling that we were able to bring them over here and see the culture. It definitely worked out great for both parties.

If you look at our sales side, we like to hire people who are new to the workforce. We are big believers in recruiting and training and teaching them a profession. So to date, a lot of our sales employees have been from within the region.

I would say again that finding the A-grade player, it is a process. It takes time. We are primarily looking for culture fits to make sure they jell into what we are trying to achieve and are comfortable in our environment.

Q: Can you define your culture?

A: We want to create a culture where our employees are positive. When retaining employees, culture should play a huge part of it in my opinion.

We publish our core values. We hold them accountable to it. So every new employee, or even existing employees, we want them to be held accountable to those core values, myself included.

We have five core values: Always improve and innovate; be positive; do what is right; wow the customer; and build an awesome culture.

We do quarterly reviews off-site where employees can ask any question in an anonymous way. It is very open and transparent. We also do a core values check. We ask, Hey, are we doing the right thing? Are we still on track with the core values that we published?

That is what I think is crucial for us to grow as an organization — that core fabric that is Doctible. Every core value is super important but there are two that I personally identify with.

One is always improve and innovate. I get my inspiration on that one from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ Day One philosophy: Always act like it is day one of the company because you stretch your mind and continue to come up with new things that are going to be differentiating from the competition.

We want to import that same intensity to everyone because we should never be happy with what is going on. Of course, we recognize employees, but we are also pushing them to go to the next level

And the next one is building an awesome culture. We always think of it is as a work in progress. But we want to give employees the autonomy to be able to create a fun culture – where they are hardworking, where they see the results directly impact all of our customers and then have a sense of accomplishment.

That is super critical where people come into a place of work. No doubt it is a hard job, especially a start-up with stretched resources. But you can have fun doing it.

Q: What is your favorite perk?

A: We do many things that I think are part of building an awesome culture. But something that we do very often is recognition of employees for doing a good job. We have weekly recognitions, quarterly recognitions. We want to make sure we take a moment and appreciate the work that everyone is doing.

We also have introduced some perks recently. This is all from feedback. We take our employee feedback very seriously. Flexibility was something that was brought up very often, and we have rolled out some flex perks for employees when they hit a certain stage. Those are the kind of things that we take pride in. We are not perfect. We get it. But give us feedback and we will continue to work on it.

I think that feedback loop is so critical to forming culture so they don’t feel like it is a rigid workplace when they walk in.

Q: Is it hard to keep people?

A: We have been very lucky to retain our key employees that are the core of our company. How do we retain people? I think culture should be a very big reason why people stay with the company. They spend more of their waking life in work than outside of work. What we want to have them do is build an environment where they have fun with their colleagues and managers. Now it is going to be a hard-working job, but they are going to have fun doing it.

Q: What is Doctible’s best benefit?

A: I think a benefit that everybody enjoys here is we get done at 1 pm on Fridays. It’s basically our way of recognizing that on Fridays, staying until 4 pm might not be the most optimal. So the company closes down at 1 pm. It give employees the opportunity to beat traffic and get a head start on the weekend.

I personally enjoy that perk, too. It is something that is now woven into the fabric of our culture, and it is not something that I would ever touch or remove – at least for a long period of time.

Name: DoctibleFounded: 2014Ownership: Privately heldSector: Healthcare Information TechnologyLocal employees: 55

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