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San Diego Entrepreneur of the Week – Matt Geller of CovalentCareers

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Each week we sit down with an entrepreneur in San Diego that has shown exceptional growth within their company and has innovated their respective industry. This week we sat down with Matt Geller, co-founder of CovalentCareers, to learn about the path it took to build CovalentCareers to what it is today, and where they plan to take the company in the future. CovalentCareers is an innovative way to find new jobs, as well as new employers, in the optometry field. As you’ll quickly find out when you read this interview, Matt is an exceptional leader who is always thinking of new ways to innovate the future.

  1. Briefly describe yourself and your connection with CovalentCareers.

Describe myself? Well Peter Sage said it best: “Bio’s don’t impress me – I want to know who you’re becoming not who you’ve been. Show me your voice not your echo”. With that being said, I am becoming the best possible CEO of CovalentCareers.com, a new HR technology company that I co-founded about 1 year ago.

  1. For someone who hasn’t been on CovalentCareers, can you briefly describe how it works?

CovalentCareers.com is an online job discovery platform for healthcare professionals. Our web platform assists healthcare professionals with  finding jobs and employers with finding great employees. In addition we plan to offer simple HR tools for employers to help manage their staff.

The platform completely reinvents the experience by providing features such as: match scores, pros and cons, automatic job descriptions, 1-click-applications, status updates, culture fit assessments, access to detailed candidate profiles, an applicant tracking system, in-app messaging, power filters, paperless resume storage, and other amazing features!

  1. How has your previous work experience in the optometry industry influenced you to start the website?

As an a new optometrist, I saw a definite and real problem that existed in the healthcare world that was killing practice revenue and making it very difficult to operate and manage a successful practice. The problem: staffing.

Ask any practice owner and they will list “staff and HR” as one of their top three headaches in managing a practice or healthcare clinic. The problem was evident to me, my fellow co-founders, colleagues and friends throughout the country. It’s very real and very true.

America’s healthcare system is drastically changing and it is putting enormous pressure on healthcare practices to keep up or get eaten alive. The pressure comes from many different places, but regardless of where and what, practices need to become more efficient and better managed. As healthcare digitizes, both for the patient by way of technology, medical records, appointment booking and more, healthcare will also digitize for the doctor’s internal tools, by the way of EHRs, HIPAA compliance, referral systems, telemedicine and, you guessed it, human resources.

This is where Covalent comes to the rescue. Our goal is to be there every step of the way for healthcare practices that are sourcing, staffing and onboarding new healthcare professionals and ancillary staff within their practices.

For the job seeker side of the equation, we’ve ran some very robust market research studies that show how frustrated job seekers are with the process of applying to jobs online. The current resources simply do not take into account their needs and how they want to be served.

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  1. How will this change the way healthcare providers find jobs and careers in the future? How about employers looking for employees?

Healthcare providers seem to be under represented in the world of finding great careers. CovalentCareers.com will change this by providing them with a home to professionally represent who they are both as a clinical, but also as a human being. We intend to redefine the resume during the process of finding a great career and make sure that healthcare specific candidate qualities are seen first. This means an improved and more accurate experience. Wait until you see the transparency we are going to bring to the world of staffing. No more guessing games.

Employers can look forward to a significant cost savings because it will take less effort to hire and because they will find quality long term employees through the platform. This means they spend less money on listing jobs and paying staff members to recruit, source and hire employees. Also, practice owners spend less time interviewing, training and onboarding. Another key point is that practice owners don’t have to suffer the expensive costs of having a vacancy in their practice.

  1. How has working in San Diego affected the company?

Covalent being a San Diego, California tech startup has been essential to our success. Myself and one of our co-founders moved here from Long Island, New York where the pace of life is like the Pamplona Bull Run in Spain. New York bred me to work extremely hard and put the development of Covalent before anything else. Having that work ethic in a more laid back place like San Diego is a very interesting fit. The environment here is fantastic and it is a place I will never leave. We run the company out of an office in North Pacific Beach, right on the border of La Jolla. There is no shortage of things to do in the area, great food and like minded entrepreneurs. San Diego is a little know, amazing place to start a company.

The other amazing co-founders of CovalentCareers are Josh Geller, based out of Pennsylvania and Ryan Corte O.D., based out of North Carolina both love coming out to San Diego for team gatherings. Brett Kestenbaum DPT is also our co-founder but he too is based out of San Diego.

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  1. What advice do you have for future entrepreneurs?

Your product comes first. Nothing you do can ever cover up for having a bad product.

Don’t develop your product solely based on what you think is right as founders. Perform user tests, focus groups, field studies and do everything you can to learn about what your users want. Make sure you develop a product that a few users love, rather than what many users like.

As a leader, you must focus on 2-3 metrics and key performance indicators that your company’s employees can follow along with you. They should be the beat that your company marches to. Team members want to feel that they are making a difference and it’s your job to show them the impact their work has.

Look for answers to your problems in other companies or industries.

Subscribe to great podcasts about startups and listen to as many audible.com audio books as possible about entrpenuership. Oh, and the library is still a great place to get text based books too!

  1. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

Our biggest challenges have been centered around product design and making sure we build a product with all the features that users want, but without making it too diluted and difficult to use.

  1. How does marketing/advertising play a role in your business plan?

Marketing and advertising is important for us, but we put product first. We know that a great product will result in a referral coefficient of greater than 1.0. That means exponential growth for us. As long as we develop a product users love, we can focus less on marketing and advertising.

Otherwise our marketing is centered around how CovalentCareers can be an asset to our users and showing off product features. We utilize high-end videography and graphic design! You can check it out at www.covalentcareers.com.

  1. Why is it important for entrepreneurs to continue to be innovative, especially in the job market?

As mentioned before, founders need to stay innovative in the healthcare job market because healthcare is evolving and speeding up. Doctors have less time to spend with patients to run a successful practice. In order to maximize that time spent with patients, they need to spend less time with cumbersome tasks like HR management and employee hiring.

  1. What are the future goals for CovalentCareers?

Our future goals are to scale to all of healthcare and provide better HR tools for our users. We are going to become an essential utility for the US healthcare system.

Each week the SD Entertainer interviews and highlights an entrepreneur in San Diego. Come back next Monday to learn about another innovative entrepreneur.

Originally from New York, I moved to San Diego in 2014 after living in Italy for two years to work as a Director and Producer for Pixel Productions. Contact: Dylan@SDEntertainer.com

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