LifeLinks and Jumpstart Foundry

Jumpstart Foundry is a 14 week healthcare focused accelerator my team and I at LifeLinks were lucky enough to be a part of during the 2015 summer. For over a decade, LifeLinks has been providing high touch, quality care management to Middle Tennessee seniors and their families. I know it’s important work, and caring for seniors has always been my biggest professional passion. However, I also knew that LifeLinks could be so much more. Jumpstart Foundry was an opportunity for the LifeLinks team to rethink what we are and what we can do. It wasn’t something we were going to pass up.

There are plenty of reasons why Jumpstart was an exciting time for LifeLinks. One of the things that stuck out most to me was the energy surrounding the entire process. Everyone in the “batch”, as the group of selected companies was called, was going through a transformative period in their business’s life. As a group, we were all focused on growing and expanding our businesses, regardless of whether we had been in business for a decade or a day. For me, it was an opportunity to get out of the daily rhythm of “putting out fires”; I got to take a step back and look at LifeLinks holistically. That was invaluable.

Jumpstart was also an amazing way to network with driven, experienced, and talented mentors. These were industry professionals who were genuinely volunteering their time to help the batch members make the most of the accelerator process. It was never like pulling teeth either, they were always enthusiastic, eager, and more than willing to help. For us personally, we needed a lot of help determining how to aggregate such a fragmented industry. Luckily, we had access to the knowledge of mentors who had done roll ups before. We needed help strategizing the operations side of expanding into multiple new markets. Again, we had the ability to brainstorm with operations experts in the healthcare industry.

Lastly, and the importance of this really cannot be overstated, the diversity among batch members allowed for new ideas and new connections that have improved LifeLinks permanently. In addition to other local companies, we had groups from New Orleans, California, South Carolina and Minnesota. We had companies run by 20 year olds and companies run by 50 year olds, as well as multiple racially diverse owners. I helped with the gender diversity as the only female CEO in the batch. The variety of perspectives really worked to the benefit of the entire group.

Looking back on those 14 weeks sometimes makes me wonder where the time went. It was a constant “get up and go” mentality everyday, which allowed us to accomplish a lot. I was surprised by how much I learned about my business. First off, I never fully understood the role LifeLinks could play in the consolidation of such a fragmented industry. With Jumpstart Foundry’s help, I was able to visualize LifeLinks as a national brand and understand how the industry could benefit from that consolidation. I also learned just how important it is to be able to filter through advice, and stay true to yourself. Often, it was important to prioritize advice and act on only the advice that really fit our culture and philosophy. As we all know, not all advice is good advice or necessarily applicable to the current situation. Satisfying every piece of advice would not have been possible or practical. Those 14 weeks will be a defining moment in the history of LifeLinks. Some of that has yet to be determined, but we can never go back to the way it was before. That’s what sticks out to me the most about Jumpstart Foundry.

Although we still have plenty of work to do as a result of Jumpstart, there is no question that it has played a defining role for this new era of LifeLinks.

-Gretchen