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Dr. Ish: Use dating apps then BeSafeMeds for STD

PRACTICAL MEDICINE: Dr. Olusegun Ishmael (pictured here with a nurse colleague) launched BeSafeMeds, a telemedicine app that creates treatment options for the more than 20 million Americans who contract STDs annually. FOUNDERSWIRE PHOTO


By SHELAGH BRALEY
@founderswire

CHICAGO—It took an ER doctor on a work trip to look around and realize: What happens in Vegas definitely does not stay in Vegas.

“What happens is, you take it home with you, and you spread it,” says Dr. Olusegun Ishmael—or Dr. Ish as he’s affectionately known. His comfortable, familiar manner is an occupational requirement, as he takes in stride a seriously uncomfortable reality on a daily basis.

He is an urgent care physician as well as the founder of BeSafeMeds, a web-based app that treats sexually transmitted diseases through telemedicine—from wherever a patient happens to be when they realize they’ve been affected. The service currently serves Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Missouri and New Mexico.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STD rates in the United States have reached a record high, with 1.5 million chlamydia cases reported; nearly 400,000 cases of gonorrhea; and nearly 24,000 cases of syphilis. You can point, anecdotally at least, to online dating apps and the ease of finding partners, Ishmael tells FoundersWire in a recent interview at WeWork Kinzie.

One in two people under the age of 25 are now diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases,” says Ishmael, who earned his medical degree at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and his MBA from Purdue. “As we are becoming a more tech-enabled society, we have way less interpersonal relationships. Dating has become swipe right/swipe left, without that six degrees of separation that used to happen.”

So 50 percent of potential partners are carrying an invisible communicable disease. “If I’m under 25, I’m 21 or 22, in college or a young professional, it’s like flipping a coin. Wow, that’s bad,” Ishmael says.

He mentions an acquaintance preparing for a trip to Seattle. “He pulls out his phone, I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m going to find a date.’ That’s the society we live in. You could go into the U.K., Europe, wherever and find a match. They’re all over the world. You could go from one place to another and literally bring (an STD) and spread it.”

So he created an app where patients—from anywhere—can access a licensed physician or nurse practitioner, then direct them to the most convenient pharmacy where medication can be picked up.

“We made the app web-based, that was a decision we made,” Ishmael says. The last thing people want, understandably, is to have something on their phones that identifies them as having an STD or even fearing the possibility. “ ‘Hey, that’s that STD app.’ Busted,” he says.

Since January 1, Ishmael says they’ve already consulted with more than 5,000 users on the site. “With 20 million annual cases of new STDs, there’s a huge population. At $20 a pop, that’s good revenue while we hit our mission to treat people who are unwilling or unable to access traditional care.”

Ishmael describes the user journey from the perspective of being in an unknown city, away from home and primary care network. “Let’s say I’m in Seattle, but I’m from Chicago. I don’t know the town, I don’t know where I’m at. But I need treatment,” he says. “So we have a geolocator function, on basically every smartphone, and a database of licensed providers and pharmacies—because the end solution is to get treatment.”

The site provides a diagnostic questionnaire to triage the severity of symptoms and risk, then the care provider contacts the user. Once the options are clear, treatment is the next step.

“The provider doesn’t have to spend time doing prescriptions, because we can transmit it to the pharmacy of your choice. That could be on the route to the airport. ‘Hey Uber or Lyft driver, can you just stop at this pharmacy here?’ It’s perfect, you can pick it up on your way to the plane.”

Ishmael says BeSafeMeds was designed to be efficient, convenient and private. “When I say convenient, you can do it on the fly, just like everything else. We order food, we get everything on Amazon, why not this, it’s the same thing,” he says.

Efficiency is a huge priority, he points out. Without new strategies to streamline patient care, more often, patients won’t be treated.

“In the next three years, we estimate we’re going to have at least a 90,000 deficit of physicians in the country, so who’s going to take care of people?” he asks. “I had a person in the emergency room who it took two-and-a-half hours to get an STD treatment, and all because I finally walked out and said, ‘You know what, come on back. I can get you in and I can get you out really quick.’ Because otherwise, he’s not an emergency.”

And privacy is so crucial to addressing an issue as rife with stigma as STDs.

“Patients are actually afraid to talk to their doctors,” Ishmael says. “(They worry we think): ‘I’ve been taking care of you for 20 years, and ugh, you’re nasty.’ But doctors truly don’t remember. I could see you at Walgreen’s or Wal-Mart and not know you; we turn it off as we walk out the door. But people don’t know that, and they don’t want people to know about this, it’s a stigma we have.

“We don’t like talking about it, we don’t even like talking about sex. We were discussing the whole topic as the product was rolling out, and someone said, ‘People are monogamous.’ I was like, ‘Which world do you live in?’ Swans are monogamous. Some fox are monogamous. We are not monogamous.

“But sex is great, sex is fun. When I talk to patients, I say, ‘We all make mistakes, we’re human.’ It goes back to that saying, to err is human. We do make mistakes. I come across patients, and I say, ‘Let’s deal with it and move on, and you never have to talk about it again.’ ”

Ishmael cautions users: The ideal treatment plan would be to go to a facility and get tested. But the problem is, “The people that tend to use the app are people who either don’t have (medical) access or choose not to.” He points to the common scenarios where patients check into the ER but by the time the doctor gets there, they’ve left. “Those are the people who are unable or unwilling to access traditional health care,” he says.

“Or a user calls in and says, ‘I’ve traveled on a business trip, I’m happily married, I made a mistake while I was traveling, I can’t go home without knowing.’ That person wants a prophylactic treatment.” So BeSafeMeds makes that possible.

Ishmael, whose specialty is patient-centric emergency medicine but also has experience as a medical director and vice president of care management on the insurance side, says he’s looking at other ways to use the provider network they’ve built, to scale the technology.

“We’re going take it to another disease state—not just STDs. Telemedicine is a paradigm shift. The medical industry is slow to adapt, we’re creatures of habit. We work how we are trained. But we have to meet the supply and demand.”

Especially with college back in session, he sees BeSafeMeds as a way to address many of the behaviors that put people at risk through sexuality. The first step is being honest and nonjudgmental about it.

“We can put our heads in the sand all we want, but it’s still happening. Hopefully over time we can change behavior. Our slogan is, we’re there for whatever happens. But we hope we don’t get repeat customers,” he says.


#workspacethoughts is an ongoing series made possible by WeWork, featuring the diverse founders building their companies in the Chicago area. WeWork provides workspaces designed for fresh ideas, organic networking and month-to-month flexibility.

Skill Scout shoots reality TV to optimize recruiting

A NEW POINT OF VIEW: Skill Scout founders Elena Valentine (left) and Abby Cheesman focus their cameras on the reality of today’s jobs, to bring more aligned candidates to jobs in manufacturing and more. Video helps candidates understand job responsibilities in a visual, tangible way, Valentine says. 


By SHELAGH BRALEY
@founderswire

CHICAGO—When scouting for talent in the digital age, it’s best to get a visual.

Skill Scout, founded by Elena Valentine and Abby Cheesman in 2014, stakes its claim in the market as the “YouTube of the workplace,” by using video to show real workplaces, and putting new opportunities in front of job seekers who may not realize how valuable their skills are.

For Valentine and Cheesman, former design researchers from Gravity Tank, the idea came from a consulting project, aiming to connect young people to employment. “It was a big challenge,” Valentine says, “with 7 million young adults not in school or in the work force. The question was, how do we connect them to meaningful pathways to employment?

“There were a few things we saw (through the project) that dramatically changed my life,” Valentine remembers. “One is that we were immersing ourselves among some of the most talented young people we’d ever met, but because their resumes didn’t look good, because they’d never left their neighborhoods, they were lacking really important exposure to jobs and careers.”

And two, she says, “We needed to collect these stories to really understand: How do we turn their needs and experiences into insight that we can actually design on?”

Skill Scout addresses the disconnect between traditional employers and a new generation of visually driven, digital-savvy potential employees.

After talking with hundreds of companies, “equally struggling to hire and retain talent, we saw that there was a system that was inherently broken in how companies and candidates miss each other,” Valentine tells FoundersWire in an interview at WeWork Kinzie.

Job descriptions don’t adequately show what the job is like. Resumes don’t nail candidates’ skills. So that was the information gap Skill Scout set out to change. The best solution was storytelling through video, Valentine says, “to really help companies communicate their jobs in a way that broadened the talent, and in turn, give candidates a way to self-screen in or self-screen out.”

“We are bringing the art of storytelling into the hiring process,” she says.

Evolving with the expectations and changing behaviors of a modern work force, the Skill Scout team wanted to prove using video to showcase jobs—what the day-to-day really looked like—would bring in more knowledgeable candidates who would be a good fit. “We captured candidates who had seen a video of a job, and they could talk about the position in a much more tangible way, so that the company was hiring faster and keeping that hire longer, because they could experience their possible position in a different way, ahead of time,” she says.

Skill Scout targeted the manufacturing industry first, because “Manufacturers have incredible stories to tell,” Valentine says. “Video lends itself well to the kind of tangibility of manufacturers, and more importantly, there is a kind of pride they take in their work. You wouldn’t believe the kind of culture that some of these manufacturers have.”

She mentions a local manufacturer that has built a state-of-the-art gym and brings in a trainer twice a week for employees. “He’s not the Google or the Facebook of the world. He’s just an amazing tool and die maker in the middle of Melrose Park, Illinois, but has been hiring and mentoring high school kids in his community for the past 15 to 20 years. Who’s telling that story?”

She finds deep satisfaction in the manufacturers’ pride. “We’d be there (shooting video) for three hours, because these guys would take us to every nook and cranny of their shop, just showcasing. That passion has kept us in the game.”

Skill Scout also has expanded beyond factory behind-the-scenes, adding visuals to job postings for other industries—but the problem they solve doesn’t change, she says.

“The challenges of hiring are universal. There’s retention, there’s the time it takes to hire, attraction, cultural fit. The true future of work is something none of us can predict because the jobs that will exist for our children aren’t even around yet,” she says. “But they will have to know how to solve problems in this overarching way.”

Employer clients can hire Skill Scout pros to shoot and produce job videos, or they can use the do-it-yourself app that puts an employer’s own workers behind the camera to show off their jobs.

Valentine says video technology is integral to Skill Scout’s growth strategy. “How candidates connect to the world of work—that is looking very different. Virtual and augmented reality are going to be the future of this.”

She says Skill Scout’s next offering is going to be an immersive, 360-degree job experience. “It’s about getting that true POV. There’s a ton of new mediums, as a result of changing generations, that are just changing how we connect to the world of work, how we learn about work. And we’re going to change how we frame it.”

No matter what disruption occurs, Valentine hopes one big change will equalize the future work force.

“I’d like to think it will no longer be about where you’ve come from and what school you’ve gone to,” she says. “It’s going to be about: Can you actually do the work?”


#workspacethoughts is an ongoing series made possible by WeWork, featuring the diverse founders building their companies in the Chicago area. WeWork provides workspaces designed for fresh ideas, organic networking and month-to-month flexibility.

Cancer-focused founder delivers goods so patients thrive

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Dr. Ritu Trivedi-Purohit, the founder of Thriveosity (shown here on the terrace at WeWork Kinzie), has taken her medical practice to new heights, providing more comprehensive care for cancer patients, their care givers and loved ones through special, non-toxic care packages that address chemo side effects and more. FOUNDERSWIRE PHOTO BY SAMANTHA FRONTERA


 By SAMANTHA FRONTERA
@founderswire

CHICAGO—Dr. Ritu Trivedi-Purohit, a clinical psychologist with a specialty practice in oncology, found a need for her startup, Thriveosity, while caring for cancer patients and their families in their most vulnerable moments.

“I assist patients, manage all aspects of cancer care, including chemotherapy,” she says, “as well as assist family caregivers, support their loved ones and prevent burnout.”

Thriveosity, founded in 2016, delivers ThriveBoxes, what Trivedi-Purohit calls “cheerful boxes” to take care of those patients and their caregivers. She noticed a gap in cancer care, which has only widened over time as care has shifted from hospital-based to home- and community-based care, resulting in fewer opportunities to receive the kind of support they need from their primary medical providers.

“My patients were really struggling with managing their side effects,” she tells FoundersWire in an interview at WeWork Kinzie. “For example, patients often struggle with nutrition, loss of appetite and eating sufficient calories. Patients also experience changes to their hair, skin and nails. ThriveBoxes help them with recovery from their treatment.”

ThriveBoxes are monthly care packages specifically designed with the needs of loved ones in mind. Every care package features products to support the person during their journey through cancer. The company provides options to soothe these problems with handpicked non-toxic products.

According to the Lifetime Risk of Developing Cancer’s 2012-2014 data, approximately 38.5 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes. In 2014, there were an estimated 15 million people living with cancer in the United States.

Therefore, Trivedi-Purohit says, there is a large market for these types of boxes.

“Patients have to go through radiation,” causing a significant number of unavoidable, medicine-related issues, Trivedi-Purohit says. “And this gives them ways to have products to soothe their hair, skin and nail problems.”

The goal at Thriveosity is to support patients in the time immediately following their diagnosis and also during their treatments, introducing them to a cleaner, healthier lifestyle so they can begin their survivorship in a healthy manner. According to JAMA’s Oncology Journal, 40 percent of cancers have an environmental component. Trivedi-Purohit says, “Recurrence is also a real fear for patients. Providing comprehensive care benefits these patients at every stage of their cancer journey.”

The company’s five Thrive categories range from skincare, nutrition, aromatherapy, neurobehavioral and the basics. ThriveBoxes contain books and games designed to be fun and engaging while keeping a recipient’s mind active and stimulated. They include aromatherapy and essential oils, which have therapeutic qualities, natural skincare products, healthy organic food items and much-needed basic items.

“Our curation process is to offer functional, supportive, compassionate care,” Trivedi-Purohit says.

Thriveosity takes a holistic approach, which Trivedi-Purhit says differentiates them from their competitors. They are clinically trained to help manage all aspects of care, including emotional wellness. Some patients can experience side effects including “chemo brain,” dehydration and nutrition issues, which can all lead to re-hospitalization.

“A lot of the products we consume—using on our skin or ingesting—contain toxic ingredients,” Trivedi-Purohit says. “We need cleaner, non-toxic products.”

Trivedi-Purohit holds a master’s degree in community counseling from Loyola University and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.  She maintains her practice in Park Ridge, Ill., treating patients with a variety of illnesses. But through Thriveosity, she can extend the continuum of care beyond traditional medicine.

“Support is what we focus on,” Trivedi-Purohit says.

The company offers a one-time box, because supporters often look for an alternative to get-well gifts and would like to offer a month of support.

They also offer one-, three- and six-month options, ranging from $50-$60. Although Trivedi-Purohit says they did not set out to be a subscription box company, they do offer monthly subscriptions “because patients need long-term support, ideally for 12 months.”

“So often, support comes flooding in immediately after a diagnosis and then can taper off,” Trivedi-Purohit says. “We are about supportive care, care for the length of time the patient needs.”


#workspacethoughts is an ongoing series made possible by WeWork, featuring the diverse founders building their companies in the Chicago area. WeWork provides workspaces designed for fresh ideas,  organic networking and month-to-month flexibility. 

Get your motivation on for this week’s events

It’s a new week, new energy! Network, get inspired and advance your venture vision.


Today, Nov. 7: Tech Tackles Cancer, hosted by hack/reduce, at Lansdowne Pub9 Lansdowne St., Boston. 6-11:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Register HERE.  Join hack/reduce, one of Boston’s biggest tech associations, for a good-time fundraiser aimed at eliminating pediatric cancer. No matter if you donate or just go out and support the cause, you’ll have a ton of fun with your fellow tech community builders.

Tuesday, Nov. 8: Recruiting Challenges for Startups, hosted by Nancy Drees at WeWork South Station, 795 Atlantic Ave., 8th floor, Boston. 6-8 p.m. FREE. Register HERE. So you have your startup vision in place, and you’re in the early planning stages. A priority needs to be the team you assemble to make that vision happen. The Vacaré Group is hosting a seminar with tips on how to build that startup team successfully.

Wednesday, Nov. 9: SheDemos 2016, hosted by She Starts and the Babson WIN Lab, at C Space, 290 Congress St., Boston. 5:30-8:30 p.m. FREE. Register HERE. If you’re an aspiring female entrepreneur, don’t miss the SheStarts/WIN Lab annual showcase of their dozen startup finalists. Not only will you get inspired by these rockstar women and the businesses they’re creating, you’ll get to make connections helpful to furthering your own startup vision.

Thursday, Nov. 10: 6 Months On: Equity Crowdfunding Rules and You, hosted by the Capital Network at the Cambridge Innovation Center’s Venture Cafe, 1 Broadway, Cambridge, 5:30-6:30 p.m. FREE. Register HERE. Startup funding can be a complex and confusing field. Head to the Venture Cafe for an educational conversation with experts on the ins-and-outs of crowdfunding and investing and how to successfully navigate them.

Friday, Nov. 11: Babson Entrepreneurship Forum: Take Action, hosted by F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, 231 Forest St., Wellesley. Tickets $30. Register HERE. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs: Join Babson students, faculty, and the Boston business community for a day-long conference and networking bash. You’ll get access to valuable entrepreneurial trends and leadership tools, along with pitch advice from the “Live to Pitch” component.

Saturday, Nov. 12: BU BUzz Lab Startup Bootcamp Fall 16, hosted by the Boston University BUzz Lab at Boston University Questrom School of Business (Room 208), 595 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets $10. Register HERE. If you’re looking to get your venture off the ground, or are already there and just want some tips on improving the process, join the BUzz Lab’s boot camp. Your startup will benefit from BU professors’ expertise on key topics like market validation, financing, legal navigation and team building.

Sunday, Nov. 13: Power Hour Brunch Bites Sunday, hosted by Cove at 293 Third St., Cambridge. 10 a.m.-noon. FREE. Register HERE. Cap off your weekend with yummy brunch treats and networking with your fellow Boston community space workers. Local eatery bites, coffee, and socializing galore.

This week’s events for founders and fun

Check out this week’s can’t-miss events in the area. 

Monday, July 25: Business Sustainability Bootcamp, hosted by SkyLab Boston, 6-9 p.m., Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, 6th floor, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury. FREE. Register here.

Tuesday, July 26: Finance & Accounting for Startups Post-Investment, hosted by The Capital Network at MassChallenge, 21 Drydock Ave., Boston. 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m. Register here.

Wednesday, July 27: Annual Summer Reception, 5:30-7:30 p.m., members $75, non-members $150, hosted by the Boston Chamber of Commerce in the tent behind the New England Aquarium. Register here.

Green Card & Career Advice Q&A Session for Ph.Ds, 6-8 p.m., hosted by Casseus Law and Propel Careers at the Cambridge Innovation Center, 1 Broadway, 5th floor, Cambridge, $15. Register here.

Startup Showcase, 6-9 p.m., hosted by MassChallenge at the Innovation & Design Building, 21-25 Drydock Ave., Boston. FREE. Register here.

Thursday, July 28: SheStarts Networking Breakfast, 8:30-10 a.m., at WeWork Fort Point, 51 Melcher St., Boston. FREE. Register here.

Regatta for Entrepreneurship, noon-6 p.m., sponsored by The CFO Center, Gesmer Updegrove, FoundersWire, Telamon Insurance and Bowen Advisors, to benefit the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. At the Boston Sailing Center, 54 Lewis Wharf, Boston. Network and race for the NFTE Cup. Learn more here.

Hiring in Tech: What companies are really looking for, 6-8 p.m., hosted by ChickTech Boston at WorkBar Cambridge, 45 Prospect St., Cambridge. $10. Free business head shots first come, first served. Register here.

Friday, July 29: The White Party, 6-10 p.m., hosted by Boston Business Women on the patio at Society on High, 99 High St., Boston. $50. Each ticket purchase includes a plus one. Men welcome. Register here.


Do you have an event you want to promote? Let us know here. We choose the best events for our readers and publish every Monday

Above board: SheStarts experts on choosing advisors

By SHELAGH BRALEY

BOSTON—As a founder, where do you turn when you need advice? If you’re truly innovating, there isn’t a single source—often you have to collect expertise from multiple sources to patch together a plan. If you’re lucky, those handpicked experts can become your advisory board, according to the SheStarts panelists who shared their thoughts Monday night.

Christopher Mirabile of Launchpad Venture Group, entrepreneurs Joyce Lonergan (CEO and co-founder of Mellitus LLC) and Helen Adeosun (CEO and founder of Care Academy) joined serial entrepreneur/moderator Tina Weber at WeWork South Station to share advice on choosing an advisory board. Here are the 5Ws you should know, plus a little extra:

SheStarts co-founder Nancy Cremins introduces the panelists at Building and Using an Advisory Board.

SheStarts co-founder Nancy Cremins introduces the panelists at Building and Using an Advisory Board.

WHO should be an advisor:

“Your advisory board is a group you’ve collected who are focused on helping you,” said Mirabile. “It’s people you can rely on … an industry expert, someone who might be in your slide deck. That’s on the more formal name-dropping spectrum.”

“They’re supposed to make your load lighter. You don’t want to bring on anyone that will make more work for you,” Lonergan said.

WHAT is the best way to work with an advisor:

“You say, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking, does that work for you?’ Then put them to work, give them homework, let them know that’s what you expect. Calling them up, saying ‘What do I do?’ is not the way to go, to give them confidence in you as a leader. Be explicit about whether they’re OK with you using their name, and make sure they know your story,” Mirabile said.

“There has to be enough connection, you don’t want to be forgotten. Each call has to be a transaction. And then ask yourself, ‘Did I get what I needed?’ It’s up to me to bring them along, their time is valuable,” Lonergan said.

“It happens organically. We like each other and how each other thinks,” said Weber. “Just don’t question yourself too much. Lay it out there, lay out your ideas.”

“Call them, but not to the point where it keeps you from moving your company forward. If I ask a question and they come back asking, ‘How did that go,” I latch on. It doesn’t have to feel so boisterous and sales-y. See who is really into it,” Adeosun said.

WHEN should you choose an advisor:

“If you need advice, you’re ready,” said Mirabile. “Do it as soon as you can use one.”

“If you need advice, you’re ready,” said Mirabile. “Do it as soon as you can use one.”

“You listen better if you create something first, and you get better feedback,” said Adeosun. “(One of my advisors) picked apart my crap like I don’t know what, but it was great. She’s now a valuable member of my advisory.”

WHERE can you find qualified advisors:

“I ask myself all the time, ‘Who do I know who does that? Sometimes it comes from LinkedIn, who does my group know? Through partnering and outside vendors, I’m always trying to find a thread of commonality,” said Lonergan.

“A lot of times I’m already working with someone, and they say, ‘Do you mind if I list you (on my slide deck).’ It starts out with networking, asking for advice, and good chemistry. (The entrepreneur says:) I’m picking your brain, you give me good answers, and then say, would you like to take this to the next level,” Mirabile said.

WHY choose to work with an advisory board:

“We are showing our customers, these are the people advising us every day, we’re being pushed forward,” said Adeosun. “And it keeps you accountable, right? You don’t want to mess up those relationships, so you work even harder.”

HOW should you work out compensation:

“As an entrepreneur, I never have enough money or time. I try to do everything as low cost as possible. But I’ve learned not to skimp when I need smarts,” Lonergan said. “If you can get the magic of your idea across, sometimes you can get them to help beyond a paycheck.”

“If you can get the magic of your idea across, sometimes you can get them to help beyond a paycheck.”

“If they’re putting in a ton of time, making intros or lending you a name with the halo of recognition, that could be a quarter of a percent to half,” said Mirabile, “or in exceptional circumstance, up to 1 percent of common stock options.”

Mirabile had special advice about this, and also covers it in his blog, “You can outgrow expertise early, so give them less (stock) maybe, but let it vest early so they aren’t hanging around when you don’t need them. Shoot for less stock and faster vesting.”

Adeosun referred to a resource that she has found valuable, a founder/advisor standard template: “The Founders Institute lays out the process by experience and cache, setting expectations, this work is worth x-amount.”

Best traits to look for in a quality advisor:

CM: Availability, willingness to help and super-networked is a key feature. A lot of people are hard to schedule with, they give you shallow answers.

JL: Master of their craft, give you great depth of answers, and trust is so important, for what I ask to be held in confidence and not twisted.

HA: Their ability to connect and work with people in our industry. Whenever I consider an advisor, I ask in passing, ‘What do you think of this person?’ People admire them for how much they are willing to give, and I look at how much people love them within the industry.

And Nancy Cremins, SheStarts co-founder and attorney with Gesmer Updegrove gave the final word: “When you do put together your advisory, make sure everyone doesn’t look the same or you won’t get that good diversity of thought.”

Good advice across the board.