Leadership Edge with Andrew Dudum, Co-Founder and CEO of Hims & Hers: A Modern Approach to Health
For my leadership series, I had the fantastic opportunity to sit down and interview Andrew Dudum, Co-Founder and CEO of Hims & Hers. Andrew is a founder, active angel investor, and advisor to over two dozen startups.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? I’ve been building companies for about 15 years now. It started when I was an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania at The Wharton School where I spent more time trying to convince designers and engineers to build things with me than paying attention to my classes. I learned, really quickly, that I have a passion for developing and creating products for people.
After my sophomore year, I left school, went to San Francisco, joined my first startup, and sold it to Telefonica in Spain in 2012. That process kick-started my love and passion for bringing companies to market, and over the last decade or so, I’ve built over a dozen businesses and raised north of a billion dollars in capital across them. I am energized by small teams building impactful products.
With Hims & Hers, we have an opportunity to essentially rebuild the healthcare system, with consumers in control and as the core focus in every aspect of the platform. It’s been an incredible journey to build out a telehealth platform, especially over a time when the industry has had to evolve so much–and when people have needed it most.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? What makes us stand out is the people who work at Hims & Hers. We have a pretty small team of people generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. What’s even more amazing is that Hims & Hers has only been around about three years, and we are already a publicly traded company.
Our progress has been so impressive, and like I said, it all comes down to the people in the organization. I think it’s a rare combination of grit, resourcefulness, can-do attitude, and an obsessive passion for building beautiful products that customers love. I’m so proud of the smart and talented team we have at Hims & Hers, and their dedication to our company’s vision and mission.
And lastly, when you think of healthcare, you don’t think about beauty. You don’t think about seamless interactions. You don’t think about on-demand care. You don’t think it’s affordable. This is what Hims & Hers is all about–it’s beautiful, it’s seamless, it’s on-demand, and it’s affordable. It’s people working hard behind the scenes and having an unending passion for building great things for our customers. At the core, that’s what makes us unique, and it’s how we’ve been able to create a company that is scaling in the public markets so quickly.
How did Hims & Hers accelerate its roadmap during the pandemic to expand healthcare access? In March of 2020 we had a board meeting, and at that meeting, I showcased a slide that highlighted our roadmap for the next two years. We planned on launching at-home testing, primary care services, full dermatology, and mental health services. On the next slide, I explained that we were going to consolidate this two-year roadmap into the next 90 days, and figure out how to get all of this done in a couple of months instead of a couple of years. As lockdowns and restrictions fell worldwide, it became abundantly clear that the country–and our customers–needed more access to care. So, we did what we do best, which is to focus on far-reaching goals in very short timelines, then we break into 10-15 person teams, and those teams start sprinting. An initiative that would have taken large companies years, hundreds of people, and tens of millions of dollars, we were able to pull off within a few weeks with a few dedicated people. The pandemic was a catalyst for our team. It was an acceleration of what Hims & Hers was already building, and it acted as a great motivator for our team to help more people in need access virtual care.
In just about a year we were able to expand our offerings to include a range of primary care, dermatology, sexual health, and mental health products and services.
Thank you! Speaking of primary care services, how is Hims & Hers working on expanding access to care? The Hims & Hers approach is unique. We want to verticalize the entire healthcare system completely. That means we are there from the moment someone learns about a specific condition they have, to seeing a medical professional, connecting with a specialist, getting the treatments, receiving and taking the medication, and even adjusting the treatment.
We’ve essentially rebuilt what is traditionally done in a brick-and-mortar healthcare system into a healthcare system in the cloud, ripping out costs every step of the way and really putting the consumer first, to make their healthcare experience as seamless and stress-free as possible. We intentionally work to make the cost of our products and services affordable, even for those who don’t have insurance. By building the whole system in the cloud and avoiding much of the legacy historical inefficiencies and costs, we can pass that cost savings right back to the customer, which is key in expanding access to care.
Ultimately, that’s the incredible thing about what we are building. It’s about bringing equality and access to healthcare for anyone and everyone. When you look at the statistics, our healthcare system is fundamentally broken–it’s inaccessible, unaffordable, and we are spending more money than ever and we are, unfortunately, sicker than ever. Hims & Hers provides healthcare services that anyone can access from the comfort of their phone, and that is only 20 to 30 dollars.
Where do you see the future of healthcare post COVID? How do you see the adoption of telehealth post-pandemic playing out? What happened with the pandemic is an acceleration of existing trends that we’ve seen since 2015 and 2016. People have increasingly started to use telemedicine–it’s draw being affordability, efficiency, and seamlessness.
Prior to the pandemic, consumers–especially people in their 20s and 30s–were already opting for telemedicine rather than waiting in lines. The trends of accessing care via your phone, simply clicking a button and talking to a medical professional, were already in motion. What we are building at Hims & Hers is just an extension of what customers expect, and the virus accelerated the exposure of telemedicine. Before COVID, only 11% of patients used telemedicine; now, almost 80% of people have used it (Citation).
Looking ahead, I believe we’ll see more businesses continue to serve people digitally and virtually. You will see brands like Hims & Hers expand their reach into more categories in order to help more people. I believe in the next 5 to 10 years, you will be able to use your phone from the comfort of your home for 80% of your healthcare needs. More healthcare companies and systems will finally put patients’ wants and needs first, and healthcare as a whole will become more seamless, beautiful, affordable, and on-demand–that is very much what Hims & Hers is leading the charge of.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? First, you should only start a company if you believe you can dedicate a decade or two decades to building it. It forces founders and entrepreneurs to guarantee–and feel the passion–of an idea. I learned this early enough, but I wish I had discovered it even earlier. To build something life-changing and impactful, it can take up to a decade of hard work and determination. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work, dedication, and hard days you will have building a company. Although we managed to go public within three years at Hims & Hers, it was no easy ride. It still is tough, and creating real innovation is always hard. So, for any future founder or team, always ask yourself, “Is this something that I’m excited to work on for the next ten years?” Second, know the importance of bringing talent that is better than you into the organization as soon as you can. Early on, I brought on executive leadership from some of the world’s largest healthcare and consumer companies, such as Dr. Patrick Carroll, former Chief Medical Officer of Walgreens. I wish I learned earlier the importance of surrounding yourself with world-class talent early in the process. It allows you to have that strategic voice around the table and make suitable investments early that ultimately drive incredible dividends and returns.
Finally, throw the concept of units of time out the window. The whole concept of weeks, months, financial quarters, and years is detrimental when building a business and building fast. People naturally gravitate towards those units of time. They’ll think, “Oh, this is something that will take about a week,” or “We can do this in the next couple of months. This quarter is hectic.” Our team has a very unique, remarkable ability to avoid getting stuck into those units of time. If we can achieve something today, we’re going to do it today. If there is a conversation we can have right now, we’re going to have that conversation right now.
We’ve learned to simplify down the units of time into tiny units. “What am I doing before lunch? What am I doing between lunch and coffee? What am I doing after coffee before taking a break?” We break time down into really small units to move fast and focus fast and, yes, get stuff done fast. It doesn’t often happen that a three-year-old company goes public. In fact, I think it might be one of the few that’s ever done it that quickly. And a large part of that is due to the team’s ability not to get trapped in using society’s unit of time and metrics and just move at massively accelerated speeds.
What do you want the readers to know? One thing I’ve learned is that no matter how wealthy you are, what you look like, or where you live–everyone struggles with something related to their health and wellness–and you are never alone.
What I really want people to take away from reading this is that there is now a place where you can have complete control of your health and manage your own care with no judgment, no stigma, and doesn’t require you to have insurance. All you have to do is go to the platform, click around a bit, and get the care that you need. Check out Hims & Herstoday.