Medic Footprints is a community-based organization that connects doctors with career opportunities beyond medicine.
In the interview below, Dr Abeyna Jones talks about building Medic Footprints into a 100% profitable and bootstrapped business.
Hi Abeyna, thanks for agreeing to share your story on YHP. Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m a London born and bred doctor who specialises in looking after people in a workplace setting (Occupational Medicine).
I’m also the Founder of Medic Footprints – a community-based organization that connects doctors with career opportunities beyond medicine. This was started after I had my own struggles in deciding what I wanted to do with my own career beyond conventional medicine and identifying that there were no outlets to easily enable me to do so.
I am also part of the world's first programme for doctors who are innovating within healthcare – NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
As an entrepreneur I had no idea what that actually meant. Luckily I identified a co-founder who could help fill in the gaps I had in my knowledge on running a business, legals, accounting etc. I also had to very quickly change my mindset from altruistic – having worked in the NHS for the majority of my career, to a commercial brain – it was essential for the company to survive.
Another challenge was time – I was working full time as a doctor for the first 3-4 years of running Medic Footprints (this is not uncommon for doctors who are entrepreneurs)! And as a consequence I burned out!
What is your company? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Medic Footprints is an independent social impact business promoting diverse careers for doctors, by doctors, with wellbeing at its core. Founded in 2014 by myself and school friend Sara Sabin, the organisation disrupts medical careers and the recruitment industry as a whole by providing a dedicated platform for doctors and other medical professionals to access a diverse range of career opportunities, beyond just healthcare.
We leverage the talent of doctors by raising awareness of diverse career opportunities and by signposting to bespoke wellbeing support services for them. Doctors are 5 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population – hence this is a huge issue.
We aim to use innovative and engaging ways to facilitate career journeys, whilst supporting other doctor-led businesses and start-ups to thrive through collaboration, referrals and promotion.
We’ve somehow managed to run it as a profitable business which is 100% bootstrapped and amassed over 11k subscribers. We are now crowdfunding to build the world’s first platform which focuses on wellbeing as part of the career & recruitment journey, facilitated by machine learning and AI.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
Our business is funded through organic revenue and some loans which have been paid back.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
The first few months involved a lot of meetings and calls to Australia as we were originally an overseas recruitment agency for doctors. We quickly realised we didn’t like staying up having to call Australia at midnight so changed our plans!
How did you initially get traction?
We started off gaining traction through our website of information, followed by running themed networking events and eventually a full blown conference within a year which was sold out. Those conferences were great marketing for us (and also required a lot of marketing and expense).
Considering our resilience, ongoing persistence and visibility, we are a well known brand amongst the community.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
1) Focus on our users first
2) Being consistently accessible, down to earth and open minded
3) Explored and utilized revenue opportunities through multiple avenues
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Inspiring others to make the most of their passions by taking that choice to do so. It’s difficult to say how many people who have directly or indirectly benefited from our presence, advice or connections, however I know that number is large and growing considering the power of word of mouth that we seem to have.
We’ve had people attend our events who heard about us in an Uber pool!
What should we be expecting from yourself and your team for the rest of 2018?
We have some important collaborative decisions to make in the next few months – one of our objectives is to make wellbeing support more accessible to doctors, and we have an company that can help us do that.
We’re also keen on integrating tech into our user offering and exploring the best way of doing that.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Make sure you have a clearly defined USP or niche for your service. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel, but you really have to stand out from everyone else.
It’s very hard – be ultra passionate about what you’re doing and be prepared to make life sacrifices to see it through.
Getting funding is very hard (and getting harder) and not always the answer. Always explore other ways of trying to do what you want to do first.