He’s the co-founder and CEO of DocDoc, the world’s first patient intelligence company, which uses artificial intelligence to match patients to the most relevant doctors. DocDoc is present in eight countries across Asia-Pacific with a network of 23,000+ doctors. The business now has more than 70 employees and has raised almost $25m USD in funding. Read more about the DocDoc story.
We spoke to Sirucek about his old shoe boxes full of receipts, the importance of technology and how to prepare a business for an IPO.
“Where technology plays a profound role is keeping you organised and allowing you to scale.” Cole Sirucek Co-Founder of DocDoc
Cole Sirucek: My wife and I started this because when my daughter was 100 days old, she was diagnosed with a very rare liver condition that meant she needed a transplant to survive. And so we were abruptly thrown into a very rough mix of doctors and treatments and choices, and we weren’t given the data we needed to make informed decisions. So we just said, “somebody needs to solve this problem”. And so we’ve committed ourselves to solving it. We partner with insurance companies and brokers and governments, and we help create the infrastructure needed for consumers to make informed decisions about their doctors.
Sirucek: A lot of people tell you, "Hey, why are you [starting a new business]? You’re on the right path. You’ve done the right things already. You’ve got a good life coming to you, just live that. Why do you want to go out and take a risk and lose it all or bet at all?". Overcoming that chatter is really difficult in the beginning.
Sirucek: I think a long time ago I realised I’d rather try and fail versus making excuses for why I didn’t. If I didn’t throw myself into a worthy cause, whether it was this or something else, how would I live with myself? And I think that worldview has been the most valuable piece. Everything else is trial and error and just having the integrity to work hard.
Sirucek: It’s not about how many people you have, it’s about how good they are. Two or three really talented people can do more than 10 average people. So what makes a successful startup is the quality of the people early on. That’s nine-tenths of your battle, in my opinion.
Sirucek: Where technology plays a profound role is keeping you organised and allowing you to scale. If your finance system has been a shoe box full of receipts, it’s going to be really hard to start doing currency conversions. It’s going to be really hard to start working out international tax implications. It’s just going to be a mess. And if you’re in a market like Singapore that requires an audit, that audit is going to consume a quarter of management’s time, and that means you’re not scaling. This is one of the core advantages of NetSuite [Oneworld].
Sirucek: After the first audit! It isn’t just the incredible anxiety and really painful time spent trying to go through all the receipts, it’s also the reputational hit and the management’s time. So getting a system in place early, particularly around finance, is a big idea. And if that system can scale into a CRM, that’s great. And if that system can scale into a point of purchase, that’s also great. NetSuite has a real advantage in that all these systems are connected. I wish I would have had NetSuite from day one. Unfortunately, if I took my shirt off and I showed you my back, you’d see the scar of the shoe box [full of receipts]. I’ve lived with that scar. So please, all the entrepreneurs out there, don’t live with that scar.
Sirucek: It’s helped us stay organised. Because we’re in multiple countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and we have smaller operations in India and Korea and the Philippines. There’s no way you can manage without a cloud ERP, it’s just too much. You’d have to have a finance team of 15 people. So we’re able to do that with a finance team of three people, because NetSuite OneWorld is easy to use.
Sirucek: We make decisions that are quantifiable. We often have to make decisions without complete data, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not completely organised. And digital processes lower the cost of organisation. NetSuite lowers the incremental costs. The trick to being organised is lowering the daily load it takes to be organised.
Sirucek: So if you’re using technology, then you’re virtual. And if you’re virtual, then your employees can be in an office, they can be at home, they can be everywhere. So if your systems aren’t virtual, you’re not building them right. They should all be in the cloud. We’re past that point where it makes sense for you to manage your own server.
Sirucek: Your investment bank that’s going to take you public is going to dig in, and they’re going to want to make sure that everything is kosher. And the exchanges are going to need to see those audits. So you just start with a good system, everything starts organised, and it’s a breeze. Our audits now take two days. And it’ll be the same thing in legal due diligence for fundraising rounds and in your pre-IPO and IPO stage. So, start early and invest the time, because it will pay massive dividends if you’re successful and it will help you scale.