How Social Impact & Design Lead to a Better Culture |

How Social Impact & Design Lead to a Better Culture [Interview with Lynda Brown]

Curatio is an award-winning health software company, with users in over 39 countries to date. With a private platform that combines matchmaking, curated content and easy tracking tools, their mission is to give every patient on the planet the support they need. Emma Bullen spoke to Founder and CEO, Lynda Brown.

Emma Bullen: Tell me a bit about you. How did you get to where you are today?

Lynda Brown: I started my first business at age 14. Back in the day, I didn’t really know much about being an entrepreneur. But, when I look back, I’ve always been interested in using tech to connect people. In terms of where I find myself today, I’m following that passion. Being part geek, part connector has influenced my life and what I’m doing with Curatio. I wanted to do something that had impact.

I’ve always loved technology and that was very much fostered through my dad, and I’ve always been a connector and community builder, modeled by my mom. Those two things together culminated in a lifelong pursuit of wanting to make the world a smaller, more connected place. I went through a health challenge as many of us will in our lifetime and thought, “I know how to solve one part of the puzzle,” and that was the genesis of Curatio.

EB: I almost hesitate to ask this question because it’s not a new one. What’s your experience as a woman in a tech?

LB: It’s an interesting question in that we’re still asking it. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and in ways there are unique challenges. Being an entrepreneur is a struggle for anyone, but there are additional barriers that women in tech face. You get used to being the only woman at a table, and that’s not a good thing.

On a global scale, we’re still not seeing the numbers of women going into tech or working in those STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) areas. Although the numbers are increasing, we’re still not seeing parity at all levels. Professors, Teachers, CEOs. At Curatio, I’m proud of being part of a diverse team and see it as a competitive advantage. We’re a global company, and we have to be representative of the people we serve. I think that’s the same for women in tech. The more diversity and involvement we have, the more we’ll see a diverse audience participating and adopting products.

The more diversity and involvement we have, the more we’ll see a diverse audience participating and adopting products.

EB: Tell me about Curatio. Who is the platform for?

LB: Curatio is the world’s first social health prescription. Most people will have a health challenge or event and they race to the hospital or the doctor’s office. Patients get a prescription and a follow-up care plan, but they don’t leave with the one thing that decades of research has shown will impact their well being, and that’s social support. Hospitals will have support groups, but they’re often not convenient or timely, and they’re very difficult to scale. On the pharmaceutical side, it’s challenging to deliver personalized support and the individual touch that they want to have. Similarly, for health systems, non-profits, and research organizations, it’s not core to their work to build and manage a platform that is private, personalized, and can address a global audience. So, that’s what we built with a vision to match patients around the world and deliver a valuable service to our customers. We launched in late Feb 2017 and to date have users in 39 countries, have made 4000 matches, 2000 users and major partners in the US, Canada, and Europe.

EB: What are the benefits for people who use the program?

LB: We’ve built a lot of technology into the platform, and one of the things we’re really proud of is our matchmaking ability. We’re able to find matches for people based on the criteria they set. We also do some machine learning. As the user explores the platform, we can see what they’re looking for and help them find what they need. It takes into account the whole person, not just the person as a patient or a condition, but what they’re interested in, their hobbies and their demographics.

The key benefit to the platform is that it leverages the wisdom of the micro crowd. It allows people to ask, “what worked for you?” and “what was your experience?” That’s hugely valuable for people. The other thing we’ve included is the ability to have different user roles. Caregivers, for example, have their own set of challenges to face and their own isolation. You can join the platform as a patient, caregiver specialist, provider, supporter, parent and form and connect your circle based on that role.

EB: How do you reach your target audience?

LB: We have a B2B2C model, so we do go to market with our partners. We help our partners roll out the service to their existing patient populations and help them grow their communities. There’s a nice virality with Curatio while maintaining privacy and user control.

EB: Can you share any success stories?

LB: We’re working with a number of amazing partners. We’re currently underway with a global launch for a Thalassemia which is a rare condition that impacts around 5% of the world’s population. There’s a lot of stigma and isolation around that condition, so we’re excited to help our partner connect that community around the world. We’re doing some interesting work with a partner around Menopause, another area that has some stigma, as well as Crohn’s, Colitis, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Brain Health and more.

On the user front, we’ve had some early success stories in matching users and helping people not feel so alone. That really touches us the most, that’s what it’s all about.

We’ve had some strong clinical evidence as well. Research findings were published in Telehealth and Medicine Journal this past fall that showed some good statistical significance in the benefits for patients using Curatio.

EB: One of the things I like about Curatio’s website is the clean design and the crisp copy. Can you tell me about how your team created the Curatio brand?

LB: It all started with the circle. The Latin derivative of Curatio means ‘healing circle’. We’re all about the circle, and how the circle of support can help in your health journey. With that loose definition, we had a designer work on our logo. I love how the circle of people are supporting each other with the cross in the centre standing for health. It really communicates what we’re trying to do.

I’m a huge advocate for design and the importance of it. I serve on the board for Emily Carr University, and I see the role design plays in every part of our life and how important that is. And even more critical when you’re dealing with a health challenge. It needs to be personalized, it needs to be easy to navigate, it needs to give you mental freshness and energy and convey support and safety through colours, design, and placement. We’ve invested a lot in design and we’ve been fortunate to work with gifted designers.

We want to democratize health and connect people around the planet that are going through a similar challenge.

EB: What’s next for Curatio?

We are on a mission to put this in the hands of every patient in the world. We want to democratize health and connect people around the planet that are going through a similar challenge. We will continue to focus on global partnerships and strategic alliances and most importantly supporting and delighting our users.

EB: How big is the team at Curatio?

LB: The team is about 16 right now in a couple of different countries, and there are about eight different languages between us.

EB: Are you currently hiring? What roles are you looking for?

LB: Yes, we’ve got some open positions for marketing, community management, full stack and React developer roles right now. You can find out more about them on our careers page:

EB: How would you describe your company culture?

LB: Passion and empathy are keywords – empathy for the work we’re doing and also for each other. Social impact is also a big one, it’s wonderful in terms of our company culture that everyone is here for a reason and we’re united around the mission of our business. I think we’re nimble and our team appreciates that they get to work across many different areas. It’s easy to be heard, to try things, and to be supported doing that. We joke that six months at Curatio is like six years somewhere else because you learn so much. We’re really transparent, we have monthly review sessions, and I share pretty much everything with the entire team.

EB: What’s the most useful piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

LB: I really like the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. It talks about Growth Mindset and how you can foster that. The attitude is, “I don’t know how to do this, but I can figure it out”. I see that now in so many aspects of my life, when you enter something with a growth mindset you empower yourself. It’s not exactly advice; it’s more of an approach

EB: What book do you most often recommend to friends?

LB: Another book I enjoy is Being Mortal, by Dr. Atul Gawande and as a CEO, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. It’s great to read after a difficult day.