An Idea Whose Time Has Come: How Wheel Became a Leading Virtual Care Platform
Recently Wheel CEO, Michelle Davey, sat down with Jackson Fordyce, Associate Editor at Fortune Magazine, to talk about everything from the early days of Wheel to what needs to change in healthcare. We thought it’d be fun to use the interview clips to tell the Wheel story.
First of all, what is Wheel?
Wheel, the company, has some similarities to the early human invention we now take for granted. The first wheel was invented over 5,000 years ago to help move something that one person could not move alone. Wheel, the company, launched in 2018 to help move the healthcare industry forward together — with clinicians, organizations, and patients all playing an integral role. We started by building a new way for clinicians to work and deliver care, because we believe happier clinicians make healthier patients. Now, we have an industry-leading, white-label virtual care platform that companies can leverage to serve patients nationwide, 24/7/365.
But when Michelle is on an airplane, and someone asks about her work, she doesn’t go back 5,000 years. She usually says something like this:
How do you build a healthcare startup like Wheel?
To start a company with a mission as big as Wheel’s, it takes hard work, passion, and investors that believe in the vision. Fundraising is never easy, but Michelle and the Wheel team focused on finding momentum early. Here, Michelle describes some of the key challenges in the early stages of being a pre-pandemic telehealth startup.
What needs to change in healthcare?
We all know there is plenty that needs to change in healthcare, but we have to start somewhere. From patient access and the clinician experience to tech infrastructure, Wheel has focused on the parts of the system that are not only possible to change – they’re changing. Rapidly. Michelle recounts how the industry has evolved in the last couple years post-pandemic and the vision that drives our every move.
“We all deserve care. We all deserve great care. So fundamentally rethinking the care delivery system is what we are trying to tackle.” - Michelle Davey
Why does Wheel’s mission matter so much?
Michelle grew up in a rural area with limited medical resources. As a child, she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition that her parents struggled to get answers for. This compelled Michelle to focus her career path on improving patient access to care. Her journey took her through healthcare, tech, marketplaces, and virtual care. After pinpointing what the greatest need was - a new clinical workforce configuration - she co-founded Wheel with public health policy expert, Griffin Mulcahey. In the interview, Jackson asks a question dear to her heart, “How do you think the work you are doing with Wheel honors the sacrifice your parents made for you?” Here’s her answer.
What was it like to raise Wheel’s Series C?
From rebutting critics who recommended Wheel move from Austin to Silicon Valley (now Silicon Valley seems to be moving to Austin!) to developing a trusted board of directors and world-class team of talent – Wheel has successfully tackled challenges and achieved a growth trajectory that many startups dream of. In a culmination of her work, Jackson was curious what it was like to stand in the freezing cold in the middle of Times Square under the name of the company Michelle founded.
For more, you can watch the full interview here, including Michelle’s take on the best advice from investors for getting through the economic downturn and how she handles the pressures of being a CEO.