Helen Adeosun is the Founder and CEO of CareAcademy. In this Q&A with Launch With GS, Helen shares how her experience as a direct care worker shaped the business that she wanted to build, her advice for her younger self, and her belief that entrepreneurship is a muscle.
How did you get started? What motivated you to start your company?
I started CareAcademy because I faced many of the same issues that many caregivers on the platform face – there is a limited realization of the value of the direct care workers. As a direct care worker, I faced firsthand how clients and their families looked to direct care workers as much more than a personal care caregivers. As we look at the future that provides for more distributed healthcare, direct care workers must be rapidly reskilled and be valued as part of the healthcare ecosystem. COVID-19 has brought about the opportunity to fast forward that future and I am excited for CareAcademy’s ability to grow healthcare and direct care workers into that future.
What has been the most exciting moment of building your business? The most challenging?
The validation that there are real people who are on the other side of your work can lift me out of the worst days! It was the fuel for our fire in the early days and drives our ambition today. For instance, our team shares on our public channels the times where direct care workers are appreciative of our classes, or an agency find our service to be a crucial part of their business. Those moments are so special! The worst parts are both real and existential. The real is when I make mistakes that impact teammates and don’t correct course even faster such as a bad hire or something that was poorly communicated. I have learned to make mistakes faster and approach them with a learning mindset. The existential is being impatient for the impact that we desire and wondering how we get there faster.
Who are the people in your life that have been critical to your success?
The tenacity of my parents and my family. My great grandmother and grandmother with a sixth-grade education created a whole generation, including my father, who was able to pursue education. My parents and family have boundless creative energy, pursue everything with perseverance, and are armed with faith at the core of all things. Through this, they have been able to accomplish incredible things.
I have an amazing team that is committed to building for direct care workers and reimagining the future of healthcare. There are many days that they have risen to the occasion and have made me stronger as a CEO.
What are you most excited about over the next 6-12 months?
There is the age-old saying of “never wasting a good crisis.” COVID-19 is a crisis that will be the proving ground for every company and founder, and we’re certainly leaning in and learning from the moment that we’re in. As the current virus changes the nature of U.S. Healthcare and how people do work, we’re right in the middle of both of those trends. We have a massive opportunity to reshape both of those with our platform. Over the next 6-12 months, we will be working on multiple fronts to test opportunities and listen to ways we can support our customers even more.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Entrepreneurship is a muscle. It’s a truism that has always resonated throughout my journey and it was important for me to hear at some point that no one does this perfectly or is born knowing how to be a founder. Thus if foundership is a practice or a craft, I can always get better and I should be intentional about my learning. It’s made me motivated to build CareAcademy, as I am learning how to show up for our customers, caregivers, employees and stakeholders, and myself.
What has the Launch With GS Entrepreneur Cohort experience been like for you?
The experience was incredible! I had heard of many of the entrepreneurs but the access to hear and learn from them was incredible. Since this is the first program, there was so much iterating throughout the program based on our feedback. I greatly appreciated the flexibility in thinking and approach of the GS team to maximize the learning.
It takes a village: Who are the people in your life who have helped you build your company into what it is today?
I stand on the shoulders of giants, and so many mentors and other founders. I learn so much from every conversation and opportunity. We’re so blessed to have a multitude of different people including other founders to inform my thinking.
What’s the advice you’d give to your younger self that you wish you knew then?
Just put one foot in front of the other. Building anything is incremental and so often everything seemed so big. We often see success at the end, but the greatest skill that I am learning is how you break down a roadmap for success into habits and measuring success.
What’s your leadership philosophy?
It has evolved over the last couple of years and now I embrace Ben Horowitz’s beliefs on wartime and peacetime CEOs. Wartime CEOs lead from the front. They manage through the crisis and keep morale up and I have done that many times. However, a peacetime CEO positions the company for growth by creating a distributed network of employees as colleagues and advisors. I always examine my business with that mindset – we will move faster and create the most innovative experiences by allowing everyone at CareAcademy to build in their own way.