Making Sweet Lemonade Out of Lemons

Almost 4 years ago, I was sh*t-canned from my job. I didn't do anything that lacked integrity, I didn't fail at my job. I just wasn't a good cultural fit. With my termination letter in hand (which I still have and look at periodically), I walked home from midtown Manhattan to let my wife know I was no longer employed. With every step, a new emotion dominated my mind; deep humiliation, anger, anxiety, entrepreneurial passion and on and on. I knew my then former boss was right in exiting me and I respected him for doing it. I learned a painful but invaluable lesson that day; cultural values are more important than anything else. I was wrong for them and they were wrong for me and with each block of that walk home, thinking about all the wrong that had been overlooked due to revenue, profits, success, etc, I came to know exactly what I wanted to do. I made a commitment, maybe without specific nomenclature, to the exact mission, values and culture that I would embody in this new adventure. Walking from a breakfast meeting at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan to Worth Street in Tribeca, grit prevailed and Oxeon was effectively conceived. With four years of hindsight, that was truly a walk "home" in so many important ways. But on that specific day, the journey's first stop was stepping off the elevator to tell my wife of my new state of unemployment. Megan immediately supported me, without hesitation and without equivocation, and with that, Oxeon's conception actually occurred. In the hours that followed, two DVDs of Jerry McGuire were messengered to my apartment and Schuyler called to say he wanted to join me at the new company and I can remember telling him that there was a clear vision of how we would do things. For the public record, the dude was 22 years old, had just moved to NYC to join me at my now former employer and so his making that phone call is something I'll never lose appreciation for. In the days that followed, Frank, Seth, Jeff and Dave all took major risks in supporting us as our first clients and investments at Evolent and Privia. Then Becca and Morgan were just crazy enough to join Schuyler to help start the company. Maura and Jamie followed them shortly thereafter and our merry band of healthcare executive search recruiters was beginning our summer tour! Since then, as clients, candidates, networking sources, advocates, or just friends of the firm, each of you has played a part in the tremendous growth of our company over four amazing years.

That day in November 2011 seemed like a lifetime in 8 hours, an amazing emotional rollercoaster. But it was good training for the past four years. Writing today, I'm beyond proud of what we've accomplished but also think that Oxeon is really just at its beginning. A highly specialized executive search firm with four team members has matured into an amazing collection of people with a very clear mission to impact the US Healthcare system. So, with that, I am going to take some space in FWIW to share some perspective on what is happening here at Oxeon and what you can expect in the next four years.

Our Mission

Let me start, first, with what hasn't, and never will change. At Oxeon, we come to work every single day with a mission to "make people healthier." For us, "healthier" holds several meanings. Internally, it starts with our focus on building a healthy culture and relationship with our employees, striking alliances (a term inspired by a great book—Reid Hoffman's The Alliance) that serve to grow and nurture their individual aspirations as they contribute to our continued success as a company. Our mission has also served as a beacon in making decisions around our client base and portfolio; we are continuously astounded by the impact our clients make in transforming the way healthcare is delivered and paid for in this country, making people literally healthier each day, and, we believe, securing a foundation for a healthy American economy.

Lately, we have been thinking a lot about the meaning of "healthy" in another context. With a backdrop of, frankly, crazy-and-getting-crazier healthcare valuations, and accompanying "bubble" behaviors, we are acutely aware of our social responsibility to build and support healthy startups across our portfolio. We are fortunate that our Invested Executive Search firm enables us to have 15,000 annual conversations and deep relationships with leading healthcare executives. This position translates into a very unique opportunity to connect our healthcare company partners with the fundamental drivers of business growth: great people, great partnerships, strategic investment and next generation business ideas. So, without further ado, we are pleased to introduce you to the concept of Oxeon as a "Healthcare Growth Services" firm. In order to be a great Healthcare Growth Services firm without any dilution of the core of Invested Executive Search, we have consciously and successfully focused on our own great people and foundational business processes in advance of formally expanding the range of work we do. I am pleased to say that as we exit 2015, we are well positioned to continue to launch new business lines and bring exceptional senior leaders to Oxeon to help us achieve our mission of Making People Healthier. Let me explain.

Executive Search

Since our start, we have never strayed from the thought that with the 3-legged stool of successful entrepreneurship, great people were more important to achieving our mission than great products and big markets; sub-par leadership teams and executives can miss the opportunity inherent in both of the non-people legs of that entrepreneurial stool.

By all comparable metrics, our executive search firm continues to deliver great work in 2015. Our long-term client relationships, our stick rate and a Net Promoter Score greater than 80, determined through formal Client Satisfaction Surveys, are all indicators of our success in growing the firm while not diminishing the quality. But some things have changed. Known in our first couple of years for working with companies primarily at venture capital levels of maturity, this core segment now makes up one third of the over 100 searches we do annually. We have demonstrated success with companies at greater levels of maturity and now roughly another third comes from companies considered in "private equity" stage of growth; $25M to $500M in revenue and $10M to $150M in EBITDA. Finally, we have had great success serving some of the leading public HCIT companies as well as innovative healthcare systems, leading health plans, consulting firms and self-insured employers.

The range of executive roles that we recruit continues to span the entire C-Suite with 32% being at the CEO, President, COO and CFO levels and 33% being in the Sales, BD and marketing roles. We do 30+ searches in senior roles in Clinical, Technical, Legal and Administrative positions. We are incredibly excited to continue to deliver exceptional executive search to our many clients and partners.

Angel Investing

The relationships gained through our executive search organization fueled a big year for Oxeon Investments in 2015. The centerpiece was the Initial Public Offering of Evolent Health, our founding client. We continue to see ourselves as an extension of this amazing company and are beyond proud to have contributed whatever little part to their success. Other major investments and step-ups in valuation at Village Practice, Landmark Health, Iora, Oak Street Health, Pager and others rounded out a good year. New 2015 investments included Imagine Health, Vida, Pager, Capsule, Quartet, PresenceLearning and others to be announced shortly. We continue to invest capital as well as a range of services to support the success of our investments and 100% of Oxeon employees still participate in all of our investment funds.

Organizational Development

We believe that explicit missions, unshakeable and differentiated cultures, and a pitbullish commitment to human capital strategy amplify great teams and executives in an immeasurable way. To that end, we are currently working with some early anchor clients on a range of services that include; organizational assessment, executive assessments, alignment, employee engagement assessments and initiatives, human capital planning, succession planning, Interim Chief People Officers, and other key "strategic people initiatives". Recruiting is critical but our clients have a much better chance of success when the entire "People" function is integrated and well planned. Our goal is to offer this service line broadly to our investment portfolio as part of our investments as well as to our clients as a service/product line. Stay tuned for more insight!

Business Development

What has emerged out of four years of executive search, solely focused on Healthcare IT and Services, is a set of relationships that is both broad and deep. 15,000 conversations annually with senior healthcare executives will accomplish that! So, we are beginning the process of formalizing our prior success in facilitating opportunities across our relationships. Identifying opportunities to bring senior Provider, Payer, Self-Insured Employer, Technology and Service executives together around specific needs is something we've done historically on an opportunistic basis but we believe the time has come to formalize this offering.

De Novo Entrepreneurship

The same 15,000 annual conversations, when captured correctly and mined effectively, will lead to incredible insight in the problems, needs and opportunities across the healthcare ecosystem. Year one of our efforts to mine our conversations saw us start a venture studio from scratch, integrate it into the broader Oxeon Holdings family, write 25+ business plans, validate a handful and then start two companies de novo. Royal, Bryan and Morgan did an absolutely amazing job being the architects and the drivers of Patient Steward, Dossier and Cien overall. We are incredibly excited about the progress they’ve made and will be making a series of major announcements in the coming days about funding, clients and leadership for the de novo companies we’ve founded this year. We continue to be committed to launching new companies independently or in partnership with our clients, partners or investment friends, and welcome anyone to reach out if they would like to collaborate on something.

We continue to explore and work on other new Healthcare Growth product and service lines and expect Oxeon Holdings to continue to test, validate and then announce different ways for us to help our clients successfully transform the US Healthcare System. In order to scale our business lines – we must scale our people!

Our People

In 2015, Oxeon went through a very specific set of steps to attract, successfully integrate and retain great people while preparing to broaden the range of services we offer to companies, and I am thrilled to introduce you to five senior leaders who have joined Oxeon in this year.

It is impossible to explain the impact of the crew of people who started and built Oxeon with me. In a relatively short time, we've grown from a couple of us and a $20,000 monthly expense budget in 2012 to fifty plus employees and five distinct business lines. We looked at 2015 as the year to blend our internal team with external leadership, mentorship and expertise and I am excited to say that the cavalry has arrived. Say hello to them!

For Jim and I, our first second day of work together occurred on 9/11/2001; our onboarding exercise was watching the incredible events of lower Manhattan as we were stranded in Jersey City together. Those events secured a strong tie between us, and as our Firm continues to mature in size and complexity, I am excited to bring him on as a key partner of mine in leading our finance, investments and much of our administrative functions. In our first at-bat, I was the product and strategy guy and he was the strategy and finance guy --that blend worked so well that we decided to get the band back together in this critical third year of Oxeon's growth. Joining in early 2015, Jim has been instrumental to our organizational effectiveness, our investments, our forays into crazy entrepreneurial ventures and making sure that we don't always roll 100% of our investment proceeds!

"Lisher", aka Lauren has stepped in with an out-of-the-gates impact that has probably never been seen at Oxeon. Lauren comes to us after creating the CommonWell Alliance at McKesson/Relay Health, which brought together Allscripts, athenahealth and Cerner among other organizations, in the spirit of making people healthier by driving interoperability of data and technology across some of healthcare's key players. Her experiences and network have leant tremendous credibility across the healthcare market, where she has already made waves in searches for Athena and an Intermountain and Cerner joint venture. Lauren is a continued voice of sanity and clarity across our crazy internal operations, and we are incredibly excited about the continued role she will have on executive search, operational effectiveness, leadership, mentoring, investing, business development and de novo entrepreneurship. A huge hire for us!

Alissa and I first met in the days following the creation of Oxeon and during the very early days of Evolent Health, where we were both working with their leadership team on consulting projects on human capital. We immediately connected and worked closely together as Alissa took a full-time role in the earliest days of Evolent. A great friendship ensued and after some downtime after leaving Evolent, she has joined us with the goal of bringing our culture and values to an office in Washington DC. Her career experience from amazing organizations McKinsey, the Advisory Board and Evolent is having an enormous impact on Oxeon. Keep your eyes out for an Oxeon office in the Nation's capital.

In November 2014, the evening before Alissa was coming in to interview with my colleagues at Oxeon, I met Mia for an introductory conversation at a restaurant near our office. We have many mutual friends- all of them had told me that they thought Oxeon and Mia were made for each other. So I orchestrated an introduction (I am in executive search after all) and we met to talk about Oxeon and what a crazy little firm we were building. About an hour into the conversation, Alissa walked in to meet for dinner in advance of her interviewing the next day; she said hi and sat at the far end of the bar to wait for me to wrap up. Mia immediately gave me crap (as did the bartender) and the recruiting process was on. Suffice to say, that was a bar and restaurant tab that was well spent as today, Mia joins the firm as a Senior Principal. She joins us from Russell Reynolds and brings extensive knowledge and expertise in digital health as well as complimentary areas of healthcare not historically being an area of deep expertise for Oxeon. Before search, Mia worked at and led high performing teams for global healthcare companies like Merck, Guidant, Boston Scientific and Biotronik and is an incredible mentor and leader for the many rising stars in our company.

And Kate… let's not forget Kate! Kate joins us after recently expanding her family with the addition of Theodore "Teddy" Harvey in May. We are most excited to welcome Teddy, who already rocks an orange Oxeon Onesie, as well as Kate, to the Oxeon family.  An inside joke at the early stages of Oxeon was that we were all English and History majors and the only thing we all felt good about was our writing skills- this article may cause that statement to be seen as absurd. But Kate was actually a professional journalist producing award-winning articles around Hurricane Katrina among other major events. To see the interviewing skills of an investigative journalist applied to executive search is great; a source of differentiated executive insight and a benchmark for all of us!  Kate joins us from Russell Reynolds where she worked on searches for Provider systems, private equity-backed healthcare companies and digital health. She brings substantial process commitment around executive search and is already having a huge impact in advance of our 2016 operating plan. She is a perpetual source of good energy coupled with a tremendous work ethic and exceptional executive search abilities within Oxeon's portfolio.

So, in addition to thanking you all for your unwavering support these past four years, I now need to thank you for making it to the end of this article. My hope is that it reflects the wickedly fun and exciting energy that is pulsing through Oxeon as we head toward year-end. With new people and an explicit dedication to building new service lines, we head into next year with the feeling that we can do more than ever to affect change in the way our society keeps people healthy. Thank you to everyone reading this for your support. I consider myself incredibly lucky to do what I do and to work with the people I work with, both inside and outside our company.

- Trevor