We built up that company for five years and totally revolutionized the healthcare industry, and then we were acquired by a larger company. I worked for the acquiring company for about a year and a half—until they ran into some issues and laid off our entire Utah division.
That ending is where Whistic begins.
After the layoffs, I did my best to help those who lost their jobs. We had been in the growth mode, and I felt bad because we had just hired a bunch of people, plucked them out of their careers, and then said, “Sorry, you’re laid off.” I spent a couple of months helping find places for them to go, specifically the ones I worked closely with in my division.
During this time, I was introduced to many different companies that I hadn’t been aware of because I was heads down, working on American HealthCare Lending. I started thinking about what I should do next—if I should start something for myself, join another early-stage startup, or look for a job with a later-stage company.
I met with more than 100 different founding teams that summer. I kept a list. I’m a goal-oriented person, so I set a goal to meet with 50 teams, and I met with 50, then I set a goal to meet with 100, and I met with 100. I met with a lot of people doing cool stuff, and I explored a few ideas of my own, but nothing felt right for me. I went to my brother and said, “I haven’t found anything that I’m excited about. I’ve met with 100 different founders and haven’t found the right fit.” He actually was the one who introduced me to a couple of guys working on this idea called Whistic in the summer of 2016.
Hitting my stride at Whistic
The company was only a year old, and at that time, there were three people working on it. Though I wasn’t a co-founder, I got involved with Whistic extremely early on, they didn’t even have any paying customers yet! They had an initial version of the application and a vision for where it was going, which I was really excited about.
When people ask what Whistic is, I explain it as a vendor security network, so we’re dealing with the challenges involved in assessing third-party vendors. We’re all familiar with data breaches, such as SolarWinds, so that’s the space we play in.
In the beginning, our office was a 10×10 square-foot space. We were next to a lady who did credit repair services, and the walls were paper thin; I was pretty sure she was violating some laws with her credit repair services. She was so loud that when we’d do an interview, we’d all have to spill out of our room to sit at these two chairs downstairs by the restrooms. People thought it was pretty awkward to go to the restroom and have to step over us as we worked. Good times.