Startup News & Analysis

HealthEngine brings on former Citibank and LinkedIn directors: Co-founder Marcus Tan on how to attract top tech talent

Angela Castles /

Healthengine

HealthEngine co-founder and chief executive Dr. Marcus Tan

Perth-based healthcare booking service HealthEngine has brought two senior tech leaders on board, announcing ex-Citibank IT director Mark Hammond as the company’s new head of technology, engineering and data security, and former LinkedIn Australia sales director Mark Dick set to start as head of sales.

Launched in 2006, HealthEngine is a platform that helps patients find and book healthcare services, while providing practitioners with technology to improve the patient experience. According to HealthEngine, as of April this year 8 million appointments have been booked on the platform across Australia.

HealthEngine used capital from its recent $26.7 million Series C funding round to invest in new hires, increasing its team of 100 by almost 30% in the last three months, according to the company.

For HealthEngine co-founder and chief executive Dr Marcus Tan, the experience of hiring new team members was “intensely personal” because he knew having a great team was integral to the startup’s success.

“Without a doubt, as a tech company the most important success factor is your people,” Tan says. 

Investing time and patience in hiring the right talent was also critical, Tan says, because Australia “doesn’t really have that deep pool” of tech talent, when compared with startup hubs like Silicon Valley. 

“Finding the right people is one thing, finding people with the right mindset is another, finding people with the right mindset and experience is another,” Tan says.

While Tan says “there’s only so much you can do” in the face of big corporates that can offer “beautiful facilities, perks and internal chefs”, but startups can still attract top talent with their vision, their purpose, and their capacity for future growth.

Persuade with purpose

Tan suggests that even the smallest companies can attract top-quality hires by selling their purpose and the problem they are trying to solve.

“Most people would find that resonating with the work [they are doing] and being part of the bigger vision is the most important [consideration]” Tan says. 

 “Frankly, if the only reason why a person would join is because of the free beer, it’s not going to be enough for them to stay in the long term,” he says. 

While Tan also notes the competitive market for top tech talent often drives wage expectations up in a “bidding war”, he suggests startups can strike a balance between offering wages, equity and a stake in the company’s future vision to attract talent.

You have to find the right people who are actually seeing that the environment they work in is more valuable than the salary they get,” Tan says, noting that offering equity shares “allows them to have some ownership of the business that is more meaningful”.   

Build a brand

While salary may play a large role in attracting hires, Tan notes that startups looking to scale-up their growth should “not just be investing money but also time” in growing their team.

“A lot of our time is spent on recruiting, hiring, and ensuring people know the brand,” Tan says, saying that “without a doubt” a startup’s prominence is key to attracting sought-after talent. 

Startups should also be able to “demonstrate [they] have the capacity to live for more than a few months,” to attract tech talent from traditional corporate roles, Tan says.

“Startups are pretty uncertain,” Tan concedes, noting that early stage businesses should be “able to demonstrate [they are] well capitalised and able to deliver on the promises [they are] making”.

What’s next

Tan hopes bringing Hammond and Dick on board will enable HealthEngine, which now sees itself as a scale-up business, to give more value to its 4,500 strong customer base of medical practices.

While HealthEngine already sees 1.5 million patients using the booking site each month, according to Tan, “being able to deliver more to those customers” is a key area where Hammond and Dick can assist the business.

Hammond will ensure the privacy and data security of the growing number of transactions coming through the HealthEngine platform, drawing on his experience leading the technical deployment of large scale IT operations at Citibank, Bank of America and Barclays Capital.

Dick will be responsible for growing HealthEngine’s national sales teams, building on his experience working as LinkedIn’s sales director at its Silicon Valley global headquarters.

“Mark [Dick’s] background gives good visibility as to what a fantastic marketing company looks like,” Tan says.

Tan believes HealthEngine’s new hires will help grow its customer base and expand the startup across Australia, and potentially “go beyond booking and directory” services in future.

“We’ve got a good head start, and we want to expand in to other sectors,” Tan says. 

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Angela Castles

Angela Castles is a former StartupSmart journalist.

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