The woman who founded Maven explains how her first career taught her 2 key skills that fueled the rise of the $87 million digital health startup


Kate Ryder Maven Clinic

  • Kate Ryder is the CEO and cofounder of Maven Clinic, a digital health startup that helps women and families get access to healthcare.
  • Maven offers tools for companies to support working parents, such as online doctor visits and a concierge who can help women and families make appointments. It’s valued at $87 million, according to PitchBook.
  • Ryder attributes her success to her previous career in journalism, she said on a recent episode of the podcast, A Healthy Dose.
  • Ryder began her career working for publications like The Economist and The New Yorker. 
  • She said she learned two important skills from being a journalist, which have helped in her success as a CEO: Always ask for the best expert opinion when making decisions and be a storyteller.
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Kate Ryder credits her success as a CEO to her early beginnings as a journalist.  

Ryder is the CEO of Maven Clinic, a digital health startup that helps women get access to healthcare and ensures that women in the workforce are supported by their companies. Maven, which has raised about $42 million, offers tools for companies to support working parents, such as online doctor visits and a concierge who can help women and families make appointments.

Ryder founded Maven in 2014, after working as a  journalist for The Economist and The New Yorker. In between her journalism career and starting Maven, she was an early stage investor at Index Ventures.

Ryder discussed her time working as a journalist and how it influences her decisions as the CEO at Maven on the podcast A Healthy Dose last week. The podcast, led by healthcare investors Steve Kraus and Trevor Price, focuses on discussions with professionals in US healthcare. Price’s firm, Oxeon Partners, has helped Maven find executives, according to its website.

When asked if journalism helped her business career, Ryder responded: “100%.”

As Kraus and Price point out in the episode, Ryder managed to score funding from two venture capital giants, Sequoia and Oak HC/FT, who led a series B funding round of $27 million last year. The company was valued at $87 million in that round, according to PitchBook. Maven declined to comment on the valuation.

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Ryder attributes her success in part to her early career as a journalist where she gained skills that have directly translated to her role as CEO.

Asking for expert opinion  

For one, she said she’s not afraid to ask questions and makes it a habit to find experts and get their advice.

“When I have to make a decision I’m not afraid to ask someone who’s much more of an expert than me in any given area to weigh in.” Ryder said in the podcast. 

The desire to learn from the best is an important trait for a CEO, Ryder said. In the case of Maven, Ryder must constantly provide answers to questions outside her expertise, whether that’s in the legal or medical domain.

“I have a very smart group of executives at Maven advising me,” she said. 

Being a storyteller helps to sell your product 

Ryder also said that being a storyteller is an important skill for a CEO. A company could have an amazing product, but if it can’t tell the story of the product, the company falls short, she said.

“As a startup founder, storytelling is so important,” Ryder said. ” Whether you’re raising money, selling a business, selling a product, hiring someone, it’s just all storytelling.” 

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The storytelling aspect is a skill that’s also important when it comes to crafting a pitchdeck to use with investors, she said.

In the pitchdeck, it’s important for a company to be clear and concise. Ryder said that each slide should have a headline that clearly says what the slide is about. Someone should be able to read the headlines of a fundraising deck alone and understand what the presentation is about, she said.

“A simple story is the most powerful story,” she said.

Ryder also said that storytelling is a good skill to have at conferences, where buyers often hear pitch after pitch, which can be monotonous. Having a story can make the company stand out to investors and buyers, she said.

Click here to listen to more episodes of A Healthy Dose.

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