There seems to be a near-endless succession of bright young people promising venture capitalists that they can be “the Uber of X”, where X is anything one of those bright young people can imagine wanting done for them.
San Francisco is ground zero for these young turks who are turning industries historically slow to innovate on their heads. It is a gold rush, luring people like Leah Busque who moved her Boston-hatched TaskRabbit there.
It was in San Francisco where Harvard Business school grad Bryan O’Connell figured out how to make healthcare similarly fast, simple, and convenient. At the push of a button, his company, FirstLine, will send a doctor in-person if a call, text, video isn’t enough.
But what’s the interesting backstory of FirstLine? Bryan had to return to Ireland to start the company because of visa issues. But now it is moving to Boston. Here’s my Q&A with Bryan, who is launching out of the VDC.
You grew up in a family of doctors. Was this your inspiration for FirstLine?
Pretty much – I have basically had this product all my life. I also had a lot of insight into the “on-demand” economy from working as a VC. There are a ton of flexible working options for blue collar workers, but very few exist for their white collar counterparts!
What’s pathbreaking about FirstLine?
We are the only on-demand solution that can provide a complete replacement for your primary care doctor. Others do telemedicine only – we do everything.
The Boston Business Journal called FirstLine the Uber of Healthcare. Who is the Lyft?
I think the market has still to shake out, so not clear who the players will be. We actually try to emulate a lot of what Lyft does in trying to build a friendly community of healthcare professionals.
Like Uber, FirstLine started in San Francisco. Uber remains there but you moved to Boston. Why?
Boston has a very strong medical community and a ton of healthcare expertise – its a great place to build a startup in that space. Also, the market for engineers is a lot less competitive here!
Didn’t the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence program have something to do with your move to Boston?
Ya, honestly it was the major factor!
How many employees will you have in Boston?
Hopefully hundreds! The number of contracted healthcare professionals could easily be 20+ in 3 months and 50+ in 6 months. It is two now.
What roles are you currently hiring for?
Primarily engineering – especially back-end, Android and iOS engineers. We are also looking for a senior doctor to join the team to work with our existing medical director. And of course we are always signing up physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners as independent contractors.
Why should readers sign-up for FirstLine?
If you never want to go to a doctor’s waiting room again, then we’re the company for you!