ShiftPosts, led by CEO Elizabeth Cooper, represents a strategic shift in healthcare staffing, focusing on real-time solutions. This founder profile interview provides insights into how Cooper transitioned from a board member to a key executive, steering the company towards addressing acute staffing needs in healthcare. Under her guidance, ShiftPosts leverages innovative technology to facilitate flexible, efficient employment solutions. We explore Cooper’s role in molding ShiftPosts into a platform that offers both employers and healthcare professionals a streamlined, choice-driven staffing experience.
In your own words, how would you describe your company?
We are a real-time staffing company focused (for now) on Healthcare. Our platform leverages marketplace technology to create an intuitive interface for operators to staff simple or complex situations in seconds. By simplifying staffing those who are offered work now have choices they never imagined. We allow individuals to make very personal decisions about how and when they work at a rate they decide. While employers save 70% of the costs to find, recruit and hire any type of employee, giving them a deeper bench and more reliable sources of talent. The effect is that people on both sides suddenly have greater freedom to choose.
What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?
The idea wasn’t mine but one I inherited. As a Board member, the investors came to me and asked what to do to save their investment when the founder failed. I had formed the BOD, so I asked them if we should continue. Everyone said yes. We recapitalized the company, kept the original investors whole, and launched the company with a broader mandate than originally imagined. Our BOD knew there was a much larger market and a great opportunity with the right team.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
I am fortunate to have great long-term relationships in certain market sectors. Healthcare is one of them. Pat Fry, previously CEO and COB of Sutter Health, whom I have known since college, agreed to join the BOD immediately and asked one of the larger Healthcare PE firms he advised to send us some candidates for another BOD member. We got 30 resumes and immediately picked Dave McLean as an obvious and extraordinary choice. Between our three networks, we staffed the company with a few FTEs and then leveraged known resources for most of our admin and dev work. There is no segment of the healthcare industry that we cannot reach.
How did the pandemic impact your business?
The pandemic, while a tragedy for many, was a great opportunity for us. We had a year of operations behind us in the lead-up to the devastating effects of the pandemic. We had built something that could make a difference in the effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 and assist in the mass vax effort. While our core business came to a near stop with less than 15k of revenue in February of 2020, it turned around two months later when the government made our customers essential businesses. Our core market became part of the front lines, and our outreach to government agencies gained traction. We agreed to support a mass vax effort for a large geography. During that period, we qualified more than 600 healthcare professionals in less than 72 hours and staffed 4,000 shifts across 120 locations, 13 of them mobile, with less than 10 hours of effort. Within 2 weeks, we were handling the staffing challenge so well that the competition fell away, handling only very specialized placements we hadn’t yet brought onto the platform. Our members provided 10’s thousands of vaccines to the general public in a very dynamic environment and never missed a step with frequent location changes and constant protocol revisions when new vaccines became available. The Mass Vax effort generated 1MM+ in unforeseen revenue for the company at much better margins than our core business without gouging the government, unlike the competition.
You are well established in the Canadian markets. Can you tell us more about your recent expansion into the U.S? What makes the domestic market different?
The US is 6 times larger than the Canadian market and just 1% market share would deliver 26MM in net revenue to the company if we only focus on the retail pharmacy market. While we intended to enter the US market in 2020, the extra two-and-a-half years let us perfect the platform and provided unquestionable proof of concept. While Canada is a socialized healthcare system, much of how it operates is exactly the same as providers in the US. For instance, McKesson was our first partner in Canada, and is the second-largest operator of pharmacies in that geography. In the US McKesson is even larger, and while they do not operate Pharmacies in the US, their pharmacy management systems are dominant. The actual business side is nearly identical. Employment rules, however, vary from state to state when it comes to Healthcare. Our platform was designed to operate in the US from the beginning and hence is set to operate effectively according to the unique state-to-state regulations on payments and employment rules.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
It took us less than three years to be cash flow break-even in Canada, and we should get there sooner in the US. We now have more than 70% of all Canadian retail pharmacies registered on our platform, and we only fulfill about 30% of the demand we have created, showing our growth potential in Canada is still an outstanding opportunity. Fulfilling just 20% more of demand would double revenue.
Our challenge is scaling more quickly, which requires spending ahead of cash flow. Unlike most marketplaces, our core business is human capital and leverages the value of skills against opportunity. The very unique value of human judgment paired with deep knowledge of what makes staffing work provides a near-frictionless staffing experience. Once a client experiences the ease of use and simplification of an otherwise complicated task, they are hooked.
We chased the largest operators in Canada for two years. Independent chains joined the platform first. In that short period, it became obvious to large operators they needed us because all the usual talent was on our platform and inaccessible through their normal processes. The three major brands demanded contracts immediately in May 2022. Their individual market managers didn’t want someone sent from corporate resources; they wanted to choose for themselves and demanded their executives make the platform available to them. As a consequence, our revenue has almost tripled year over year.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?
We have a number of paths we can take, and the market will determine which are the most fruitful. From our experience in Canada, wages have risen a minimum of 20% for professionals and as much as 200% in many cases. Relying on the ShiftPosts platform is a lifestyle choice on which one can plan their life with confidence; they can work when they want and get paid at a rate they decide, as they work, not on a corporate cash flow schedule. All accounting is automated. The option of control over how much you make, how and when you work, creates an entirely different labor market. Today you can book yourself out years in advance or reliably know you can work tomorrow if you decide you don’t want a day off.
Our differentiator is that we let people get paid what they think they are worth and in agreement with the person paying them. This can change any labor market where skills must be verified and referenceable from healthcare to music festivals to complex construction. We will choose our next market based on the market’s reliability and regulations on payment of wages; i.e., the law in California requires that healthcare professionals be paid within 24 hours. The consequences of not paying are grave, and the government will take action immediately when a failed payment situation arises. We can help providers bridge that gap easily while not disrupting their planned cash flow, benefiting all parties.
Also, reducing the feature set to allow smaller and unique businesses to use the platform for their own unique needs is a great opportunity that will evolve as we move across markets.
So far, we have bootstrapped the company. If successful on this path, we will have many choices. Capturing just 10% of the US Pharmacy market makes us a 290MM company, easily a candidate for IPO or acquisition. We reserve the idea of creating a dividend schedule if the company remains private. Our goal is always to do the best for our investors.