Veer Gidwaney – Co-founder and CEO of Maxwell Health

[quote style=”boxed”]I focus on turning as many things into habits as possible to optimize the kind of time and attention that needs to go into the really important stuff.[/quote]

Veer Gidwaney is the CEO and co-founder of Maxwell Health. Maxwell Health provides a SaaS platform through health insurance brokers that drastically reduces the headaches associated with employee benefit systems. Maxwell Health is committed to helping both employers and employees reduce healthcare costs through an incentive-based system that rewards people who actively try to be healthier. Tech Cocktail recently named Maxwell Health the “Hottest Startup in the Nation” in 2013.

Where did the idea for Maxwell Health come from?

My co-founder and brother, Vinay, and I were working on a behavior change mobile app and website prior to Maxwell. It was going well, but we knew in order to affect change on a really large scale, we had to reach people at a more important juncture in their lives. We figured the point at which someone was purchasing health insurance for his family was a great one. So we pivoted from a successful, revenue-generating product to a brand new one, in a space we knew virtually nothing about.

When we dreamt up the idea for Maxwell along with a few other members of our current team, we focused first on talking to people who had interacted with the healthcare system. We quickly realized how much work had to be done to make it better. That’s why we’re singularly focused on revolutionizing healthcare in America, and we believe that starts with spending our money more wisely and being healthier. We aren’t only focused on simplifying and improving the management of the full scope of employee benefits, but we take it much further by ensuring transparency and efficiency in our members’ interactions with healthcare and encouraging better health choices every day.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A lot of my day is spent helping everyone around me be successful. That means being helpful where I can be helpful and answering any questions the team has. I spend a lot of time on sales and partnerships, so I work really closely every day with the sales team on opportunities that we have going. I also spend a tremendous amount of time on recruiting, so I’m interviewing people and figuring out how we can bring new talent into the company. Every day is very tight, with back-to-back things scheduled, to optimize every minute of the day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The precursor is asking, “How do ideas get generated in the first place?” I think part of that is just empowering our team to understand where the vision is and where we want to go; we give everyone the power to figure out the best ways to get there. We’re not afraid to question one another’s ideas and let the merit of an idea bubble up to the top.

We’ve figured out how to fail really fast, because so many ideas aren’t going to make it — how do you tackle the hardest stuff first to determine whether it’s really going to be a viable idea? The whole concept of MVP is important to us in all respects, not just in building product. In everything we do, we try to MVP it. And then we try to be rigorous about asking ourselves what we should stop doing because that’s really important, too.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The idea of making the experience of health and benefits better. Right now, we’re seeing that people are starting to develop a higher standard and expectation of this industry; they’re starting to understand the view that a better consumer experience can lead to lower costs and better health across the board.

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

I focus on turning as many things into habits as possible to optimize the kind of time and attention that needs to go into the really important stuff.

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

I really feel that I’ve never had a “worst” job — I feel like all my jobs have been great, fortunately enough. The scenarios when I haven’t worked for myself, where I’ve not been an entrepreneur (in between companies), have been less fun.

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

Honestly…I’d change nothing. I think we’re building an awesome company, and I’ve learned from everything that’s led us to this point. All that hard stuff served to bring us where we are now, so I wouldn’t do it differently.

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

I have zero tolerance for procrastination. I maintain a do-it-now viewpoint. There’s a lot of overhead involved in moving things and not doing them now. So once I finish that conversation, I’m going to take my notes, put them away, get it done, figure out what my follow-up is, and then just go to the next thing, building a system that’s very, very efficient so it’s easy to keep organized.

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

Finding great people and giving them the room to achieve their goals has been essential to our growth. I love this quote from Zig Ziglar, which, interestingly enough, is posted on the restroom door in our Cambridge office: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Enabling our team to challenge themselves, and grow this organization at the same time, is a win-win.

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

We’re failing all the time! The whole idea is to fail fast and do as many things as possible to get to the winning idea. It’s sort of a meta response, but I believe that’s the way it should be.

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

I don’t know. We’re too heads-down on Maxwell for me to have any other business ideas right now!

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I do a terrific ape impression.

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

The must-haves like Gmail, Dropbox, and Amazon Prime go a long way toward making my life and work more productive. Another that fewer people may know about is Pipedrive, which we use as our sales CRM. It’s a really functional Web app that’s made that whole “turning things into a habit” habit very easy. It’s our Bible, so to speak, here at Maxwell. Everything is in Pipedrive.

This isn’t specific, but a handy tip related to this question is that I listen to all books and weekly reading I do in audio. You could read a book every week and a half or so this way, all while doing other things (running on the treadmilll, walking to a meeting, etc.).

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

I’d recommend “The Art of Being Unreasonable” by Eli Broad for its valuable lessons on how to accomplish great things by taking the unconventional route, and how to pursue your vision even when it seems to not “fit” with what the world expects.

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

This sounds like such a cheesy response, but it’s really quite true: All of Warren Buffett’s business-building writings and thoughts are invaluable. I think people have a misconception that he’s just a great investor, which he clearly is, but he’s really about business-building as well.


Veer Gidwaney  on LinkedIn:
Maxwell Health on Twitter: @maxwellhealth