How I became one of 9 Black and Latina female founders whose startup reached $1 billion valuation
- Iman Abuzeid is one of nine Black and Latina female founders with a startup valued at $1 billion.
- Her company is trying to solve the nursing shortage by cutting the hiring time from 90 to 20 days.
Since August, Iman Abuzeid has faced two major challenges.
The first was raising an $80 million Series B funding round, which valued her healthcare-career-marketplace startup at $1.65 billion. That made Abuzeid one of nine Black and Latina female founders whose startups have reached a billion-dollar valuation. These entrepreneurs have faced increased challenges getting funded because venture-capital firms have historically excluded or overlooked them.
The other hurdle is taking on the national nursing shortage, in which unbalanced staffing ratios can cause burnout, stress, and frustration for the critical medical staff, Insider previously reported.
Abuzeid's startup, Incredible Health, connects healthcare networks with the nurses they need to fill open, permanent positions. Unlike on typical job-listing sites — where workers apply for roles — employers apply for the talent.
This dynamic, along with personalized algorithms, cuts the typical nurse-hiring process down from the 90-day national average to 20 days, Abuzeid, Incredible Health's cofounder and CEO, told Insider.
"We save at least $2 million in temporary labor costs for every hospital," she said, adding that by hiring permanent nurses faster, hospitals saved on temporary hires. "The nurses enjoy a 15% increase on average in salary."
Abuzeid spoke with Insider about what she looked for in investors. The following as-told-to essay is based on an interview with Abuzeid and has been edited for length and clarity.
I am very selective with who invests in my company
At my company, we've raised about $97 million to date, the majority of that being in 2022, when we raised an $80 million Series B.
There were a few things that set us apart and ensured that those fundraisings were very successful. I define success as being very selective about which investors we work with, having multiple term sheets, getting the terms that we want, and working with the partners that we want. I do not target investors who have not already funded women or who have not already funded minorities. I don't even bother.
The proof is in the pudding — you can see their portfolios and whom they've invested in. If it's not women or minorities, then I'm not even going to talk to them. I won't engage in the conversation if they come to me, either.
Then, there's certain expertise we are looking for, depending on the stage of the company or on the round. In the earlier rounds, we needed preferred technology and marketplace investors. That's how we ended up with Jeff Jordan at Andreessen Horowitz. He's a former CEO of OpenTable, president of eBay, and early investor and board member at Airbnb, Instacart, and Pinterest.
I tend to gravitate toward operators — James Joaquin at Obvious Ventures (who has invested in Incredible Health) has built seven companies. Three have gone public, and four have been acquired. His background is as a software engineer and CEO.
Black female founders must focus on winning
The statistics are bad, and they demonstrate a real structural bias in the system. Less than 2% of female founders are getting any venture-capital funding. When you narrow it down to Black female founders, it's 0.2%, which is effectively zero.
The statistics are real, and you should acknowledge it, but you've got to rapidly move on. You have to sort of suppress it mentally and compartmentalize it because you just have to focus on winning. If you dwell on it, it's just going to cost time and energy.
I don't proactively bring it up in calls. My white male counterparts are not spending any mental energy on this topic. You have to focus on being assertive, confident, and ambitious. Communicate clearly what your vision and mission are and what you're trying to achieve.
I also have a network of CEOs who are a support for me. Then, professional mental-health support is important, too. I have a therapist, and I'm a huge fan of all CEOs and founders getting a therapist.
- I took a new job in a remote location after my divorce. There aren't many people to date, but I'm happy staying single.
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