Episode #13

Disrupting the Healthcare Staffing Industry

Featured Guest: Matt Tant

Matt Tant image

Today’s guest is Matt Tant, an entrepreneur and former Vanderbilt University and NFL football player who is currently the CEO of the Relode, a company he founded to disrupt the healthcare recruiting industry with smart technology. In this interview, he shares how he has used the lessons he learned on the field about setting and achieving goals to build a crowdsourcing marketplace that allows anyone to put their network to work.

Podcast Transcript

David Condos: Welcome to another episode of Recovery Unscripted, I’m your host David Condos and this podcast is powered by Foundations Recovery Network. For today’s show I talked with Matt Tant, an entrepreneur who is currently the CEO of Relode. A company he founded to disrupt the health care staffing industry with smart technology.

Matt began his career as a pro football player and as you’ll hear he’s taken the lessons he learned on the field about setting and achieving goals and he’s using them to create what he calls, “A crowd sourcing marketplace that allows anyone to put their professional network to work.” All right, here’s Matt.

I’m here with Matt Tant, welcome to the show Matt.

Matt Tant: Thank you, thank you for having me.

David: Yes, all right. I thought we would begin by having you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal story and what led you into the world of recruiting.

Matt: For sure. I’m born and raised here in Nashville, Tennessee, was a high school athlete and football player. My dream growing up was to be a collegiate athlete at the D-1 level. Pretty much all my focus from childhood on was to become a college football player.

When I poured my entire life into athletics and the result was a scholarship to Vanderbilt University. It was a absolute dream come true, a lot of hard work, a lot of blessings and a lot of luck. That’s how I got started building the work ethic that was required to be successful.

David: I imagine that– I mean there is such competition in that field for those limited amount of scholarships that has to be real focus.

Matt: I remember back when I mentioned to my high school guidance counselor the my goal was to get a college football scholarship. I was from a public high school in a small county out in the middle of nowhere and the reaction was, “Well, good luck.” Actually, no one in the history of our county has ever gotten a scholarship for college football. Statistics show less than 1% of players actually get a chance, so good luck build your dream.

There was a beginning of my journey into my career, my career aspirations and I ended up getting to play a brief stint in the NFL– which was my dream, with the San Diego Chargers. When I arrived in the NFL, I realized that money wouldn’t cure all my goals and all my hopes. That football would bring me a plate from age four to 22 and after many, many hits and surgeries and precautions.

I was laying on the field one day in San Diego and decided that I was really thinking about business plans and starting my own company, not about the next play. When you get a guy that’s 6ft 5in, 290 want to kill you, that’s not a good thought.

David: Yes, you really got to want to be there to take those hits.

Matt: I journeyed back home to Nashville, Tennessee from San Diego and really began my search for a career. I got my commercial real estate license and launched into real estate in 2005– end of 2004. The global recession had already started in commercial real estate, not in residential. Little did I know that the recession would hit in 2007. Real estate was not a great place to get into at a hundred percent commission in commercial real estate in 2005.

I found myself quickly looking for another job. I put my resume online, I got many, many calls, but one was from a recruiting and staffing firm out of Jacksonville, Florida. I had never heard of the recruiting industry before, but it was interesting to me– number one, to try a new city that I had never been in before. Number two, earn commission– the idea of commission was huge to me.

I took the job and became a recruiter in 2005 at a really unique and small staffing firm in Jacksonville, Florida. As I was beginning my journey into staffing I did not pick it, it picked me.

David: Then as you got into this new job in the recruiting industry, what did you see within that industry that motivated you to have the idea for Relode? To found that company?

Matt: That was in 2005 and one of the things I saw about the recording industry was, it’s a very big industry. It’s about a $400 billion global industry and what I learned about being inside of the staffing agency is there’s a lot of money made and it’s a massive business that needs efficiency and disruption that technology can bring to it. The other thing I learned is if you work hard you can make a lot of money.

In the industries when you find young kids making a lot of money, there’s obviously an opportunity for disruption and efficiency gain. That’s what I saw when I first got into it and I’ll give you an example. My first month on the job a large company Fortune 100 company gave our agency a search. I reached out to my Alumni network from Vanderbilt in Atlanta, Georgia where the position was located and I got seven or eight great candidates in.

I screened the candidates, sent them into this client and the position was filled. The agency made a hundred and thirty thousand dollar fee, I made 14,000 in commission and the guy who referred me the candidate made a thousand dollar referral bonus. It was that weekend that I wrote this business plan– at the time it was not called Relode. It was tagged eBay for recruiting in 2005.

At that time Uber wasn’t out, so there really wasn’t anything to compare it to other than this online marketplace of buying and selling.

David: Then as you came out of that, could you tell us a bit about how you refined that idea and created Relode? Then what the mission was as you launched that?

Matt: I stayed with that company for about five years. Relode– the business plan stayed in my nightstand and I continued to develop it as I learned new parts of the business. The recruiting piece is one thing, but getting the orders from the customers and convincing them to work with your staffing firm is a whole ‘nother[sic] complexity. The idea– more often my business stand, we started to work on it on nights and weekends and met my co-founder who was a client of mine.

We were having lunch one day and I kicked the idea around with him of this online staffing model and his response was, “That’s amazing and I can build it.” Fast forward the idea for Relode developed, the Great Recession hit. It was not a good time to start a software platform, so the timing of the business wasn’t ready. In 2010 I launched a traditional health care staffing firm and built it up from a small one man team.

Started number two, number three, number four and looked up and we had nearly a thousand employees deployed across the country in hospitals for medical record implementation, IT implementations. All that to say that that gave me a whole new perspective on the business plan. Simultaneously Uber came out, Airbnb came out and I’m watching these massive industries get disrupted by technology companies and I begin to really revisit my own existence.

What would a new business model look like– not eBay anymore, but now essentially Uber. Combined with Joe’s experience of technology, my experience from staffing from the bottom to the top I replaced myself as the CEO of HCTec. The economy started to come back strongly, Joe and I continued to meet and the timing was just perfect for– to jump in and do this.

David: I guess now we’re caught up in your timeline to Relode. Let’s talk a little bit about your current day-to-day role and what you enjoy about what you’re doing now?

Matt: Currently I am the CEO of Relode. Relode’s about a 15 employee company, but we have thousands of virtual workers who work on our platform. Daily my goal is to get clients to come in and participate in our marketplace and then to get agents to come in and participate in our marketplace.

We can’t have a marketplace without both sides of the equation. If you order a job opening and there are no agents in that area, you’re probably not going to get candidates quickly or you are going to be disappointed with the outcome. Most of our time is spent acquiring agents and acquiring clients and I am involved in all of that. Right now, the majority of my time is spent outside of those CEO tasks on customer engagement and acquisition.

Explaining the story, telling customers there’s a new way to find talent.

David: You have to have that critical mass in order to make both sides of that become a cycle.

Matt: For sure. One of the things that I underestimated in starting a technology platform is it’s a monumental undertaking to explain that there’s a new way to do something. Recruiting’s been done for a long way the same way and for us to come in and have such a disruptive pricing model and cut out the agency and the middle man and connect people in an online marketplace.

It’s been a significant learning curve to teach people, that there’s a new and better way to do it. Now it’s starting to really take shape, take hold and it’s got a lot of momentum.

David: That’s actually one of the things I was going to ask is, what are some of the challenges of facing such an established industry? I mean when you’re saying you have these agencies that are making over a hundred thousand dollars on a single hire, right?

Matt: In some cases, yes. Currently our focus is clinical only. If you’re a health care company and you’re struggling to find clinical talent, that’s our only focus. Some of the reasons we pick health care are it’s the largest portion of our GDP in the United States. Number two we’re based in Nashville, Tennessee which is the Silicon Valley meets health care. It’s a massive industry that needs significant help.

David: I guess for those who aren’t familiar, could you tell us a little bit about how the actual platform works for both agents and clients?

Matt: Most people who come to us have tried to fill a position with their own team for a significant period of time. The clients come at us and say, “Hey, we really need help finding this position that’s been difficult to fill. Our team can’t fill it we have agency people backfilling the full-time role. Please help us find a perm person.” The client will put the order in our platform, we’ll broadcast it out through our software and technology, and mobile app to our agents.

They get notified based on a geographical zip code that they’ve chosen. If a customer puts an order in an Albuquerque, New Mexico and there’s agents who’ve selected those locations and those job categories. The agent will be notified immediately of the earning potential. Let’s say a seven thousand eight hundred dollar referral reward for a physical therapist.

If the agent responds to that prompting by referring a candidate and the candidate gets hired, they get the $7800. Traditionally they would have paid 20% or more of the first year’s salary, Relode is disrupting that by cutting that in half. The average for you in our platform is around 10% of the first year’s salary, so we’re saving customers over 50% by using a shared economy, technology, automation and some artificial intelligence.

The customer has a very similar experience to what they’re used to working with an agency. All the communication with the agents takes place through our software and in our team, we present back the top candidates to the customer just like an agency would. The big difference is they’re saving 50% and the candidate was procured by people who know people. A great example where we have a stay at home mom nurse in Tampa Florida.

She submitted a nurse practitioner friend of hers moving to Rockford, Illinois. The position was filled after a year. It had been open with our client for a year. Traditional staffing firms couldn’t find it, we couldn’t find it. Our agents found it. That’s the model, it’s takes anyone who knows people in health care and turn them into a recruiter.

David: One thing that seems attractive as you’re describing this agent side of Relode is that a lot of our listeners may be in recovery and they might be interested in something where they could essentially use their own network of contacts and be their own boss. What would you say makes someone a successful Relode agent in your mind?

Matt: We’ve categorized our agents as two personas I should say. One is a money maker and one is a job seeker. We always believe that they rotate. A money maker is someone who is a professional in the industry and they’ve built this network of friends and colleagues. They’re really trying to extend their network and go deep into their network and find candidates for our open positions.

The other persona we have is job seekers and they come in and they’re looking to earn additional income, but they themselves may be the applicant. They sign up, they become an agent and self-apply to the job. In the end, they become an agent anyway because they participate in our economy even when they get placed at the client.

David: How do you work to make Relode an attractive place for potential agents?

Matt: One of the things we’ve learned is really putting together those success stories of other agents. It’s easy for people to put themselves in the shoes of people like me. One of the things that we bumped into early on is when you broadcast an opportunity for someone to earn 5-7- $10,000 it appears to be a scam. One thing we’ve had to really spend a lot of time on is educating agents on other people who are doing this.

It’s not a scam and really educating them on the recruitment process. Most nurses or nurse practitioners or physicians assistants, they don’t understand that there’s typically a twenty thousand dollar fee paid on their bounty. We educate them on what a hospital does to find them without us. Then they want to participate in it because we show them, “Hey, if you work through Relode, we can supply X number of x rays, more scrubs, more benefits or clinical research for cancer patients.

Then get them excited about participating and the cost savings. They can– number one, make money themselves and number two, drive over 50% cost savings to their hospital.

David: That’s a great point, I’m glad you brought that up because you’re right. Anybody who goes into this field, they want to help people. If you can tell them a side benefit of all of this is the hospital can have more money to treat patients or provide more resources for the staff. That seems like a win-win on all sides.

Matt: Absolutely. We’ve bumped into many clients who are spending 100 million to 200 million a year on temp labor in health care and then on top of that 10 to 20 million in perm staffing fees. If we can come in and cut that by 50% on one side, 10-20% on the other, that’s a significant savings that goes to the bottom line. Which is good for everyone including the shareholders and the clinician.

David: Yes, and the patients.

Matt: The patients more importantly than anyone.

David: Another part of the Relode platform is as you’ve said, built upon gaining the trust of these top companies who are hiring. How do you work as Relode to build and maintain relationships with these clients?

Matt: I think the easiest way to get started with our clients is just give us one or two difficult openings that nobody else can fill. We really take the position, do very well at it and then the relationship starts to expand. It’s pretty easy when you’re saving clients over 50% to gain trust. Once you start to provide talent and they really see candidates coming from a crowd source of people and they see the quality of the candidates that they haven’t seen before– their team can’t find.

It starts to build trust and they start to order more positions. The trend we’ve seen in our platform is a client will order one or two openings to get to know us, review the contracts, understand the model in the process. Now, our average client has about 15 to 20 orders in the platform.

David: Okay, so essentially you just need them to give you a chance?

Matt: That’s right. We just want a chance and it’s very easy to say, “Give us your toughest order that nobody else wants and that you can’t fill. I’m going to do it for 50% cheaper than anyone else you can find.

David: As you said, a lot of the focus thus far with Relode has been in the healthcare industry. Do you envision Relode branching out into other industries? How do you see that going?

Matt: For now we’re laser focused on health care. Staffing in general health care– it’s a massive industry, and we’ve just scratched the surface. Our team is laser focused on health care only. At some point, our model and technology could be applied to other industries. We’re not thinking about that right now, we’re very excited about our clients who’ve come on board.

We have more clients coming on board and healthcare and we have no need to look outside of health care to hit our goals.

David: It seems like there’s still a lot of room to grow in healthcare.

Matt: Massive opportunity.

David: As you’ve mentioned, you put a lot of yourself and your time and effort into being a football player and really taking that to the highest level. What would you say about that experience shaped who you are now? I know you mentioned work ethic. Is that something that you can look back on and say, “That was what made me who I am now?”

Matt: I think it goes back to what we were talking about earlier on goals. When you write a goal down, you set it out and you talk to your family, friends, your mentors or your teammates about it. Then you’re maniacally focused on achieving that goal with every ounce of every piece of your being your day. For me, just watching that take shape through physical sports applied to business.

If I wanted to hit X, I had to do Y. In business, it’s no different to me. You write the goals down, you build a team to achieve those goals and then you maniacally run towards those goals. Of course, you have fun along the way and hopefully you make money. To me, it’s having a goal and running towards it with everything you have.

Yes, I believe that the greatest thing that I’ve learned is writing down the goals, putting the team behind it and maniacally focusing on hitting those goals.

David: All right, I guess we’ll close out with this final question. What’s next for Relode? I know you mentioned you have some other things in the works with them. Could you tell us more about that?

Matt: Yes, I would say we’ve got a handful of some very large employers bringing all of their employees in our platform as agents. Which to me is a very disruptive strategy for these companies to explore. All their employees will be coming into our platform–

David: Those are recruiting agencies?

Matt: These are normal companies like FRN. Who are bringing in thousands of their employees into our platform, we’re going to manage their employer referral program for them. In addition to having your existing staff seeing your jobs through our platform, we also have our external marketplace that the agents are seeing your job openings as well. That’s on the very near horizon, we’ll be on boarding those employers.

Currently, we are at about 5,000 agents in the platform. We project we’ll be at almost 200,000. We’re jumping significantly, so that’s requiring a lot of software upgrades and development, marketing agent engagement, so our entire team is focused right now on preparing for significant growth. The software is prepared to scale to millions of people, but this new model of allowing companies to bring their employees into our platform is very new and we’re excited about that. In the future after that, we have a vision to make hiring easier and disrupt a massive industry by creating a new way for companies to find talent. The goal would be to be the go-to place for healthcare hiring. Just like Airbnb and Uber are for their industries. We strive to be that for health care hiring.

David: Nice. All right, that’s it. Thanks for your time Matt.

Matt: Yes. Thank you for inviting me in and having us on the podcast.

David: Thanks again to Matt for sharing that with us. Before we wrap up, I want to give a quick reminder about the Innovations in Recovery conference. Going on next week in San Diego. As you may recall Jordan Young came on the show in episode seven, to introduce Foundations events and tell us what’s new for their annual spring conference. If you’re interested in networking and education in the behavioral health field, go to foundationsevents.com for all the details.

Also, I’m excited to be at Innovations in Recovery recording a bunch of new podcast conversations, so stay tuned for those in future episodes. Now, let’s conclude with another installment of our ongoing series minute of mindfulness. Together we’ll take the next 60 seconds to let go of distractions and focus on this present moment. I’ll open things up with a quote and then rejoin you to wrap up the episode.

This week’s quote ties in with both the journey of recovery and the entrepreneurs journey. It says, “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it”.

David: This has been the Recovery Unscripted Podcast. Today we’ve heard from Matt Tant, CEO of the healthcare recruiting marketplace Relode. For more visit relode.com. Thank you for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please give us a rating on iTunes and subscribe, so you’ll get all our new episodes right on your smartphone. See you next time.