‘FOUNDERS’ DILEMMAS’ A VALUABLE COURSE
The Founders’ Dilemmas course, based on the book by HBS professor Noam Wasserman and taught by Ginger Graham, prepared Gross for the human-resource management he’d have to do in a startup. “It’s all about the single biggest reason a lot of companies fail early on is unsuccessful navigation of dynamics within a small team,” Gross says. “To be able to learn from the experiences of others, at least through the case method, in that kind of environment was extraordinarily helpful.”
While electives provided key business knowledge to apply in a healthcare startup, HBS’s fundamentals courses gave Gross an education that still carries him through his enterprise’s operations.
“What I use the most on a day-to-day basis isn’t from the healthcare courses, it’s from the core curriculum,” he says. His Leadership and Organizational Behavior class with professor Teresa Amabile prepared him for his future scaling of Doximity. “You have to get the whole company focused and motivated to focus. Otherwise you will fail. As you scale, how do you think about preserving both productivity, and making sure that everyone has a role that fits them and is best aligned? Everyone has stories about companies that as they get larger, they lose their culture. You have to be very thoughtful about that at all levels of the company and make sure that you lead by example,” Gross says.
In the required marketing course, Gross found direct and vital applications to the healthcare sector. “Brand and trust are essential in medicine,” he says. “We’re facing a very fragmented industry . . . so distribution of messaging across the industry is incredibly important.”
THE VIRTUES OF THE CASE STUDY METHOD
While medical school education relies heavily on lecture-delivered knowledge, the case method at HBS required Gross to fill in his learning skill set with the ability to “learn how to approach problems and communicate with others in an uncertain environment, really where everyone around you is so much smarter than you in a lot of areas.”
So says the MD with an MBA and a ridiculously successful startup. But whether or not classmates were smarter, they had a great deal to offer and formed a hugely valuable asset for Gross. Many of them, he says, were serial entrepreneurs already.
“I had phenomenal professors and I very much enjoyed my classroom experience but I learned far more from my peers,” he says. His Launching Technology Ventures course was chock-full of former product managers who had all kinds of experience and advice to share. Fellow HBS students, with backgrounds in tech, helped steer Gross and his project toward the cutting edge: mobile. “Doximity began as a mobile app,” Gross says. “Today, over 70% of traffic on Doximity is mobile. Physicians are using this all day long to care for their patients and make the system more efficient.”
AN MBA/MD LEARNS ABOUT LAW, ENGINEERING
Gross took multidisciplinary courses – a class on term sheet negotiations in Harvard Law School – that gave him both important specialized education and opportunities to learn from students from other Harvard schools. “We were able to work with students from the engineering schools and test other ideas: learning how to assess things like market opportunity and risk,” he says.
The HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship provided “a culture of support” as well as a protected incubation environment and infrastructure such as phones and white boards, Gross says.