Ian Shakil believes every business person at some point should gain the benefit of working in an outward-facing customer service role. “You’re forced to be extroverted. You’re forced to talk with people and interact with people,” believes Shakil, a Stanford GSB MBA graduate. His time came while working as a bagger and cashier as a teenager at a Whole Foods Market in Coral Springs, Florida. “Believe me, you get some persnickety people at Whole Foods Market,” the now 31-year-old says of the beach-going foodie snobs frequenting the grocery store just outside Ft. Lauderdale.
But that wasn’t the worst part of Shakil’s second job. (His first job was as a 15-year-old dressing up in a lotto ball costume and waving a sign that read, “We sell lotto tickets” for a now defunct video rental store.) The worst part? “One of the things happening–at least in that region–was they (Whole Foods) didn’t give part-time workers, like myself, discounts on their prepared foods,” Shakil recalls. “And it’s expensive to go to Whole Foods. And we weren’t getting paid that much.”
So Shakil and his fellow part-time employees would walk across the street to McDonalds for lunch, bring it back to Whole Foods and eat it in front of customers. This was not an ideal representation of the self-proclaimed “Healthiest Grocery Store” in America. “It was antithetical to the mission of Whole Foods,” concedes Shakil.
‘I’VE ALWAYS HAD A DAVID AND GOLIATH COMPLEX’
The brazen teenager, perhaps acting more on emotions rather than neural firings, as many teenagers do, sent an email to then CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, telling him why he thought this would not do. A few weeks later, Shakil’s manager approached him.
“He said, ‘Guess what, Ian? You must have friends in high places because we’re changing our policy and all part-time employees are getting discounts on food here, and I guess I better tread carefully around you from now on,'” Shakil laughs. According to Shakil, the policy changed at his store and other stores in the area.
“I’ve always had a David and Goliath complex,” Shakil admits. More than a decade later, Shakil is focusing that complex on healthcare and the venture, Augmedix, he co-founded shortly after graduating from Stanford with his MBA in 2012. Launched little more than three months after commencement, Augmedix uses Google Glass to nip and tuck burdensome electronic health record data entry for physicians. The company boasts saving physicians at least 15 hours a week of data entry that’s better used for patient care.
Physicians who use Audmedix’ service are equipped with the wearable Google Glass and a personal scribe working remotely in a HIPAA-secured room. As the physician meets with a patient, the scribe is taking notes and entering data into the patient’s electronic health record. At the end of the appointment, the scribe is sent the session’s audio and video and can enter any corrections or updates before sending it to the physician. At the end of the day, the physician can read through the entire document from each appointment and make edits before submitting the information into a patient’s health record. Physicians may also use Augmedix’ service to call up anything on the patient’s electronic health record at anytime during the appointment.
EXPOSED TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT AN EARLY AGE
The genesis of Augmedix was the combination of a lifetime interest in technology and entrepreneurship and a few serendipitous and “magical” moments, Shakil says. “In a roundabout way, both of my parents are entrepreneurs,” says Shakil. His mother owned a small interior design business, and Shakil says he grew up hanging out in the back of the family SUV watching her work.
His father, a native Bangladeshi, moved back to his home country to open and run a steel mill after separating with Shakil’s mother. Shakil spent his childhood globetrotting from Bangladesh to Florida to spend time with both parents, picking up lessons along the way. “I watched how different a global commerce can be,” Shakil remembers.
And then the experiences that lead Shakil to think up Augmedix began to pile up. First, Shakil majored in biomedical engineering at Duke University and actually interned at a now defunct electronic eyewear company, called PixelOptics. “Believe it or not, in 2005, there were electronic eyewear companies,” says Shakil.
Right out of undergrad, Shakil spent nearly four years in a rotating role at Edwards Lifesciences, a massive medical devices company. “It was really good prep to be a founder and CEO of a company,” Shakil says of the experience.