Shayne Woods – Founder and President of FwdHealth

[quote style=”boxed”]The old way of doing things was to in-source what you could and outsource what you must. The new normal is the opposite – outsource what you can and in-source what you must.[/quote]

A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Shayne is presently based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is passionate about ushering in a better future for the health care industry and has been fortunate enough to work alongside one of the largest health care providers in the United States, assisting in various capacities on both the federal and state levels. Currently, he serves as president of FwdHealth – a company that optimizes personal health by connecting individuals and their apps and devices to a cloud of health expertise. Shayne holds much experience working closely with management to achieve desired results. He has developed company initiatives aimed at improving corporate image through community service while strengthening brand recognition in local markets. During the initial stages of national health care reform, Shayne found himself on the frontline in Washington, DC interfacing with field experts, congressional staffers, industry leaders and researching and analyzing health policy and its impact on providers, plans, and patients. Shayne also holds consulting experience in the health care sector identifying and developing new business opportunities, creating business capture plans, and performing research and analysis for executive-level leadership.

Where did the idea for FwdHealth come from?

While I was working out at a local gym, I looked down at my Nike+ sports watch and realized that I was collecting lots of lifestyle data – a key indicator of my clinical health. However, this information remained largely siloed at data companies and never reached my healthcare team (employer, insurer, health provider). I wondered how much I was missing out on by not connecting my healthcare team with my lifestyle activity (advice, incentives, early detection, etc.). What would happen if I could connect my apps and devices to a cloud of health experts and receive on-demand intelligence about how to get the most out of my activity? This notion of health optimization eventually led to the inception of FwdHealth.

What does your typical day look like?

It all starts with checking my Fitbit sleep stats on my phone. Next, I check emails, industry news sources, and social channels for the latest to stay informed and draw some inspiration (might even play some 80s – anything Journey). Of course I do the morning ‘necessaries’ (breakfast, shower, dress, commute). I do my best to stay out of the office and limit checking emails to 3 times daily; otherwise, I’m not doing my job as president – work ON the business not in it. I float around town from meeting to meeting and jump on conference calls with our contractors and potential partners or customers. After I get home, I decompress by walking the neighborhood with RunKeeper in order to finish out my 10,000 daily steps. My day typically ends with me putting out whatever flames remain from the office and planning my next day (oh, and I’ll try to watch SportsCenter or a DVR’d episode of The Walking Dead).

How do you bring ideas to life?

For me, it starts with daydreaming and sketching ideas. I let them simmer, then check the pad the next day to see if it still makes sense once I’ve given it space. I then reconcile it against the near-term strategy and long-term vision – some get escalated to advisors and teammates, while others get placed in the ‘parking lot’ for later.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The Quantified Self movement is really awesome. Once we become aware of our conditions we can then properly optimize ourselves – becoming the best we were meant to be.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Exercise. You’re nothing without your health. You’d be surprised how much more productive and less stressed you’ll feel if you make time for some type of activity. Don’t think of it as ‘exercise’ but as ‘recess.’ Grab some co-workers and play (4-square, Frisbee, double-dutch, or even hopscotch). Kick it old school and just play. If playing isn’t your jam, walk around the office or take the stairs as often as you can.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I worked for a few weeks while I was in college as a telemarketer. I learned pretty quickly that ‘no’ was not a definite, just another word for ‘try again, but differently.’ While it was not very enjoyable, learning such persistence and the ability to be unshaken has served me well as a founder of two startups.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’d definitely embrace outsourcing sooner. The old way of doing things was to in-source what you could and outsource what you must. The new normal is the opposite – outsource what you can and in-source what you must. It keeps the organization flatter, more agile and keeps me focused on the company’s core competency.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

A successful entrepreneur gave me the following advice which I now use religiously: “Ask yourself at the end of each day: ‘what did I learn’ and ‘what did I give’ – be honest.” You’ll be surprised how much those two questions impact your next 24 hours.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

We created a sales pipeline that works for us. We found partners who not only believe in our product but are also enhanced by it. We sell to them and they in turn sell throughout their client network. It keeps our organization lean by outsourcing much of the sales functions – we still have to do our due diligence on the strength of their pipeline, but its much easier (and cheaper) for us. Plus, it’s a much shorter sales cycle because they’re the industry insiders who know the value of products and services.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

In my first startup, I was working on a government report for a client which required reporting from their department heads. I gave incorrect instructions and ended up catching my error close to midnight – the report was due to their prime contractor first thing in the morning. After my slight heart attack, I realized the only way that this report could get done was to admit my mistake, have the department heads redo their sections, and stay in the office until the report was re-compiled. It was hard because I was an average of 20 years younger than these guys. I personally called each of them and apologized – something they later said really made them respect me as a leader. JFK once said: “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” I realized it’s the failures (and our response to them) that profoundly impacts who we will become.

By the way, we did get that revised report in before the deadline.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An a la carte television programing company – a service that allows viewer to subscribe to individual channels or shows instead of the standard cable bundle or the whatchamacallits that allow you to watch Hulu or Netflix on your TV. This year, US Senators John McCain (R – AZ) and Jay Rockefeller (D – WV) have introduced legislation aimed at making this possible. Seriously, please someone do this already.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

As a child, I enjoyed a very short stint as a model (I also started a center for kids who can’t read good and wanna learn to do other stuff good too).

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

InVision – Free and easy way to build dynamic wireframes and attractive prototypes. The support team is quick to respond and great to work with.

Wix – A free and easy site builder that gives your idea a web presence – get up and running in a matter of minutes.

Parse – Speed and agility are the greatest weapons of a startup. Parse allows you to focus on the front-end user experience while taking care of the backend. It’s very easy to maintain and scale. Money is always tight in the beginning and Parse’s freemium tier allows development teams to take their product to market smarter and get critical feedback before even paying a dime.

Vocus Marketing Suite – When you’re ready to launch use the same tool the pros use to get and keep their name out there. Vocus’ marketing cloud grows with you by enabling you to pick and choose the services best suited for your current business needs. Additionally, Vocus offers seminars and publications to keep you up-to-date on lessons learned and best practices.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Ten Types of Innovation by Larry Keeley. That book will make you look at business in a whole new way and give you a newfound respect for brands that have stood the test of time.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Steve Jobs –
Richard Branson –
Steve Blank –
Dave McClure –
Paul Graham –


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