ZocDoc’s Cyrus Massoumi: Growing a Company and Maintaining a Culture

Cyrus Massoumi is the CEO of ZocDoc, an online appointment booking site. He will sit on the Three CEOs Panel at the upcoming Health 2.0 Fall Conference. For more posts from the conference speaker interview series, click here

Laura Montini: So the first question, can you give me a general idea of where you guys are at right now? 

Cyrus Massoumi: Sure. ZocDoc just turned five, and I am proud to say that we have over 300 employees. Our geographic coverage now spans over a third of the United States. We are in 31 media markets, over 1,400 cities across the United States. We’ve got about 1.7 million patients who used us last month. So that’s sort of the high level metrics and we are looking forward to growing much larger in the years to come.

Laura Montini: So you guys have started out with a specific goal, and it is to make it possible for doctors to see more patients by filling their empty slots and to get more patients in the door quicker by letting them look at all of the available appointment times.

You then sharpened that focus by reaching out to a different demographic when you launched ZocDoc en Español. So when you guys are moving forward, what’s your strategy? Are you looking to stay focused on that initial goal or are you guys going to branch out and start doing other features and services?

Cyrus Massoumi: Our mission is always to improve access to health care, and I think that the thing that we’ve always said is very important to us is to solve consumer-oriented problems and to solve consumer pain. And we think over time, yes, we will be expanding the features on our site and the operating that we have, but it will be oriented around solving these consumer pain points.

What we like about the consumer areas are that it’s largely whitespace. Very few companies have really penetrated. Consumer facing is what we’d like to become. That’s sort of our sweet spot that I’d probably like to innovate in.

Laura Montini: So I saw on the engineering blog that you guys have, this open-source initiative called ZocMon. So open-source is kind of like a startup strategy. Startups in general are kind of all about community, and they have these special strategies that larger companies might not use.

What are kind of startup strategies that you guys are taking advantage of as a startup, yourself still?

Cyrus Massoumi: You know ZocMon is a great thing that happened organically throughout our engineering team. They wanted to contribute to some the open-source world and really it’s a framework. It’s a tool for us to do monitoring and you don’t need to be a health care company to use it, anyone can basically use ZocDoc in that regard.

Even though we are 300 people I like to sit at a cube in the middle of the office, and it reminds people that three years ago I was still taking the garbage out at ZocDoc, and we’re a very values-driven organization. We believe that we are on a mission to promote not just health care values, but there are couple of values we just build our business to make sure that we remain a small company.

The first one is Speak Up. So regardless of if you are an intern or an executive, if you disagree with something in the business, you as a member of the ZocDoc team are obligated to speak up and make your voice heard. We give awards away to people who speak up and have courage to bring things up. I make myself available, my calendar is available to every single employee or ZocDoc, to book time with me whenever they want.

We have another value which we call Own It. Everyone in the business that’s been here longer than six months has equity in the business. We want all to behave like an owner and make decision like an owner of the business.

There’s no formal vacation policy at ZocDoc —  you take off as much time as you need, as long as you are getting the job done. We don’t have a formalized expense policy. People should spend the company’s money like they spend their own.

As much as we have some money in the bank, we like to think that we’re pretty frugal with what we spend money on. So all of our furniture is refurbished. I still travel with my cofounders and share hotel rooms. That’s no means an obligation for employers, but it’s something that we do and we try to set the example as such. I’d like to think that we are able to keep that startup feel by empowering people with ideas as well as the company’s resources, and that they’ll make the best decision.

And I think that we’ve won a number of awards for the best place to work in New York for the last couple of years and one of the best places to work in health care last year. I think it’s all geared around how do you maintain the benefits of the startup even as you scale a business? How do you maintain that kind of culture? And to be honest, it’s the secret to our success.