In this episode I meet Amit Patel, former breast and endocrine surgeon who left the NHS to pursue a career in business and entrepreneurship. After six years in Director roles for the £12bn international healthcare group BUPA, Amit decided to strike out on his own and found Peachy, the UK’s first truly digital health insurance platform targeting millenials and small to medium-sized enterprises. He describes the tough decision to leave medicine, how he weighed up his love for helping people and performing surgery with the challenges of control of career path as a doctor. Amit talks openly and honestly about taking on risk and keeping moving forward even when life is uncertain. This is an episode that will resonate strongly with people in vocational professions – medicine, dentistry, law etc. – who are exploring their options and also with those who have left and are struggling with doubt or regret.
Gary Crotaz 0:02
My name’s Dr. Gary Crotaz. And I’m a coach and author of The IDEA Mindset, a book about how to figure out what you want, and how to get it. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity, when you suddenly know the right path ahead. When I’m in conversation with my coaching clients, these are the breakthroughs that are so profound that they remember vividly where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking when their Unlock Moment happened. In this podcast, I’ll be meeting and learning about people who have accomplished great things, or brought about significant change in their life, and you’ll be meeting them with me. We’ll be finding out what inspired them, how they got through the hard times, and what they learned along the way that they can share with you. Thank you for joining me on this podcast to hear all about another Unlock Moment. Hello dear listener and welcome to another episode of The Unlock Moment podcast. Today I’m delighted to welcome Amit Patel to the podcast. I’ve known Amit for very many years, ever since we trained together in medicine 25 years ago – that makes us sound very old! Amit started his career in medicine and trained as a breast and endocrine surgeon working in the NHS. After five years practising as a doctor, in 2007 he decided to switch careers into the consulting and business world, first as a consultant and then in corporate roles – ultimately, as Director of New Ventures at the £12bn revenue international healthcare group BUPA. He was responsible for incubating, testing and scaling innovative and compelling customer propositions. Now Amit has decided to forge his own path, and is the founder of Peachy, the UK’s first truly digital health insurance platform, targeting millennials and small to medium sized enterprises. Amit also serves as a board trustee for Independent Age, a charity focused on supporting people in their advanced years to remain independent and live life on their own terms. I’m looking forward to hearing all about what drives Amit, and the remarkable moment of clarity that helped him to figure out the path ahead. Amit, is my great pleasure to welcome you to The Unlock Moment.
Amit Patel 2:17
Ah, thank you so much Gary, and you’re making me feel old with the 25 years that we’ve known each other, but delighted to see you again and hear your voice again, after a good couple of years through COVID, hey?
Gary Crotaz 2:32
Well, thanks so much for coming on board, you were one of the first people that I had on the list of people that I wanted to bring on to The Unlock Moment, because you’ve had such an extraordinary career journey. And I’m looking forward to hearing all about it. So tell me a little bit about where this all started for you. So, you know, where were you when you first decided that you did want to be a doctor? Were you one of those very young kids who always wanted to do it, or it came to you a little bit later?
Amit Patel 2:55
Well, I think certainly it came to me a bit later, I actually wanted to be a pilot when I was a young kid. And that was fueled through my passion for aeroplane models. And I think my thought processes sort of meandered as I went from, you know, this kind of notion of being a pilot, to someone who ought to fix planes as well as fly them because if something went wrong, what would happen? To more serious conversations and introspection around what I actually liked as subjects at school. And I think as I got to the Sixth Form time, where you have to make some key decisions about A levels and things, I came to realise I really like the STEM subjects, you know, I like science, I really loved biology and understanding how form and function came together in the human body. And I guess a kind of love for helping people. And that, those two things were kind of a massive draw towards a vocational career in medicine or dentistry or any of those sorts of kind of career paths. But I also was massively interested in business. You know, I was brought up in a family which was relatively entrepreneurial, first generation immigrants from Uganda, my dad, and India, my mum. And so you know, this notion of, like, revenue, margin, product mix, proposition, you know, all these sorts of things, albeit I didn’t know the words necessarily, but I understood the underlying principles, also was leading me to careers in finance and consulting and these sorts of areas. However, you know, with medicine, at that time, I didn’t think there was a second opportunity, you know, I either did it then or I never did it thereafter. And so, you know, be it an honourable profession and a career for life, I decided to take the jump and take appropriate A level subjects. I did maths, further maths, chemistry and biology and was very fortunate enough to… Actually I got into Cambridge, but got deferred by a year. And that’s how I actually ended up in Bristol.
Gary Crotaz 5:19
Oh how interesting. I never knew that.
Amit Patel 5:21
Yeah, indeed. And, you know, my time at Bristol was an interesting one. Thoroughly hated Bristol actually the first year, because London was like the big bad city where I came from, and Bristol kind of couldn’t compare in any way, shape or form. And it was only after the end of the first year that I started to kind of feel an enormous amount of love for Bristol, and for what it stood for. And, you know, I was there for 11 years in total, as a result of that love frankly. But it’s, it was interesting, the first couple of years, you know, as people do at university, I had a really good time. And I decided that I would intercalate to make myself more competitive when it came to the job market in medicine. And it was at that time that a few things happened for me, I guess. One, the number of lectures really died down, because I intercalated in pathology. And so I found myself with much more time. And in that time, my head sort of started meandering again. And I started… actually I was reading the Sunday Times one Sunday, and found a competition sponsored by the Times and KPMG, around basically writing a business plan for a charity to meet one of their objectives. And you know, for some strange reason, and it’s probably because there was a five grand prize I think, if I remember correctly, attached to it, I decided that I would just, you know, give it a go. And you probably will remember, Bristol medical school is famous for a show called CLICendales. Well, yeah, and you can imagine what that show’s about…
Gary Crotaz 7:11
I was never in it!
Amit Patel 7:12
Neither was I, but it was a hilarious show. But CLIC is Cancer and Leukaemia In Childhood, it’s a charity that the med students did the show for and all the proceeds went to, and so I approached them around building a telemedicine solution for children with cancer in the southwest. And, and you know, I took that from start to finish and actually applied into this competition. And basically that was my first foray into I guess business as an undergrad. And I won the Times KPMG Business Award for 2000 for that business plan. And then subsequent to that, you know, I started my own kind of initiative, I didn’t incorporate actually, but I started a prototype build for Electronic Medical Record based on a smartcard. And I went to VentureFest, I won prizes of the Bristol Enterprise Centre, and various other things. And, you know, it’s really at this point that I started to feel this sense that there’s possibility in doing other things other than the traditional track that I’d kind of picked in a vocation and moving through. And, yeah, it’s hard to shake off that itch to do other stuff. I have to say,
Gary Crotaz 8:39
What’s so interesting when I hear that story is remembering back. And there’s a lot of people in Gen Zs of this world who, who won’t get this world where, you know, your first foray into entrepreneurship came from reading the Sunday Times in real life, on actual paper, and discovering this competition, going into the competition. For me, I changed medical schools, I started at Bristol, we were training at the same time. And then I transitioned to Cambridge. How I found out about that was there was a poster pinned to a poster board, behind three other posters, so nobody else has spotted it. And, you know, I think today, if I hadn’t discovered that poster, if you’d never read that advert in that paper copy of the Sunday Times, you know, would our careers have gone in the direction they went in? Today, with Facebook or whatever, they come and find you, you know, they’re like this person’s going to be interested in my ad, I’m going to target them. So you can’t avoid it as much. But actually, at the time, it did, you know, career path did sometimes relate to a bit of sort of fate and fortune in that kind of way. So it’s very interesting. So your entrepreneurial spirit started quite early on in your medical training?
Amit Patel 9:49
It did actually. And I actually failed my third year final exams because I was at La Scala until three o’clock in the morning, celebrating getting the award actually, in London, and I was absolutely shattered by the time I got back for my exam in the third year, but, you know that taught me a number of things as, I mean, I’m sure many people who’ve been on this podcast before, failure is not something that, you know, people take lightly. But there’s so many learnings from it that make you a better person, I think. And, you know, that was an interesting time for me. But after that, I was back on, you know, almost like final year of exams, knew I wanted to become a surgeon, I got a professorial job with Professor Farndon, who was, you know, the leading surgeon in the southwest, and, you know, an academic surgeon. And, you know, unfortunately, in that final year, he passed away, so I never actually got to work for him, very tragically actually, in the medical school. And so, you know, it was kind of a weird time transitioning, it almost made me want to do better than I would have done normally, I guess, you know, more conviction to do a good job while I was on his firm, but I had a terrific time as a junior doctor in the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and, you know, I took up a number of roles at that point, I was a Junior Doctors’ Mess President. So looked after all the social activities in the hospital and started to work for the BMA as their kind of junior doctors rep for the southwest. And I took a traditional route after that, I guess.
And what did you most love about that work?
You know what, the camaraderie between the junior doctors and the other, obviously the doctors’ hierarchy, all the way up to consultant, but also all the allied health care professionals, the nurses and, you know, physios and whatnot. I mean, the the reality of life is, you know, worked in some very stressful environments, long hours, and a lot of people, you know, getting to the end of their tether, tension, words said that, you know, you wouldn’t normally say in teams, and that fueled a level of, I don’t know, relationship building and authenticity when you settled the scores and dusted off what happened. And kind of appraised it again, with some of the teams, which was just unparalleled for me. And, you know, the trust that you developed between those teams, it was just, I don’t think I’ve experienced that really, in any other environment, maybe L.E.K. [consulting firm] for a while, but the stakes were not as high, you know, delivering recommendations on strategy and M&A are quite different to saving someone’s life, in my view, you know, from a perspective point. But that sort of level of camaraderie, we started to establish in my new business with my co-founders, you know, we had to build that level of trust to be able to work together around an opportunity, where we weren’t gonna earn any money for like, several months to even over a year.
Gary Crotaz 13:16
So, you know, you’re in that environment in that incredible team with all of that trust, and you are building your career. So you’d qualified from medical school, and you were building through the early years of your surgical career. So talk to me about how your feeling about your medical career started to change over time?
Amit Patel 13:35
Well, I think it first started with some dissatisfaction. And that came in a number of guises. And I guess the first thing was, you know, medical careers had started to change. And so the European Working Time Directive had started to creep in and be implemented. So just for any given year of tenure, any medic was basically, they’d spent less hours on the ward or less hours in theatre. And in my view, a lot of medicine is an apprenticeship. You know, the more you do, the better you get, it’s experiential. And so I could see already at that point, that, you know, my seniors were spending more time in theatre, because the new guys that were coming, and girls, that were coming through, for example, just didn’t have the experience. And it almost felt like they, they didn’t have the conviction at that point to really make a success of any job that they were doing, even though that might not be the specialty that they were going to end up being in. And that, that, you know, just didn’t start to gel for me really, in the moment but also if you fast forward and I become a consultant at some point, you know, I couldn’t see how I would… the work life balance scenario was gonna get better, if anything it was gonna get worse. Renumeration would stay the same if, if, if at best. So that was a sort of, started to be a bit of a disappointment. The other thing was, as you know, from our year at medical school, the intake had just doubled, right? And subsequently, more and more medical students were going through. And without appropriate career planning for all of these people coming through, there were not enough consultant posts at the time when, when I was going through. And, you know, that caused a lot of pain for people, they had to uproot their lives and do fellowships, whilst the consultant post was sort of being made available. But for me, the issue was, you know, I wanted choice, I want to be an academic surgeon, I wanted to come back to London. And if after 12 years, 13 years of training, I didn’t have that level of choice then that was sort of unacceptable to me. And I was kind of unwilling to make the investment to get to that point, even further. And I guess all of these things sort of came together with the fact that it’s very difficult to change things in the NHS, and I’m a natural sort of operator in the sense that I look at things and the way things are done. And I always want to do them better, whether that’s a different process, whether it’s using technology, or whatever it might be. And I just didn’t feel that, you know, me as one person in this entire organisation, I could make an impact in that, and that I would be better off stepping outside of that organisation and trying to make an impact on my own terms, or under a different guise.
Gary Crotaz 16:48
What’s so interesting for me listening to the story you tell is that it’s so consistent in certain themes with so many other doctors that I’ve spoken to who either have taken the decision to leave the profession or are seriously considering doing so. And it’s this mix of, on the one hand, what’s amazing and unique about the job is you’re helping people, you’re saving lives, you’re in this team with this level of trust, because together you’re doing something that none of you can, just none of you can do on your own. And the things that people find so frustrating, to the point that they’re willing to give all that other stuff up, is to do with career pathing and opportunity and the simple practicalities of the way the system is set up and the inability to change. And it’s been like that for a very, very long time. I remember, in my own experience, I remember having a conversation with one of the transplant, consultant transplant surgeons when I was qualifying. And I didn’t know the answer to these questions so I genuinely asked, you know, from a perspective of learning, I said, How many consultant transplant surgeons are there in the UK? And the answer was something like 20. And I said, and how many people at the next level down are sufficiently qualified and experienced that if a role came up, they could reasonably get it and do it. And he said about 200. And so you think about the equation, you think, well, the 20 are not all retiring at the same time. But when one of them does, 200 people are ready to apply for that job. And if for the best one, they’re going to get that role. And for the other 199 they’ve got to wait for the next role, or move to a different country, or change career, not because they want to but because they’ve run out of options. And, and you know that, that’s not an easy problem at all to solve. But I think it’s quite important to bring that to life. Because a lot of people I think struggle to understand why doctors don’t want to continue working in the NHS, but, and it’s not because of the patients. It’s not because the team, it’s not because of all of those factors. So it’s really interesting to, to hear that.
Amit Patel 18:54
Yeah. And I mean, I should add, people often ask me, what was it, you didn’t like surgery and, you know, I have a fundamental love for being able to make people better with my hands, you know, not using pharmacological products and tablets and things like that, but actually physically taking them to theatre, and then, you know, there’s an outcome that’s almost immediate after that intervention. And, you know, there’s no, I don’t think there’s anything else that can for me, at least, that can be so immediately gratifying.
Gary Crotaz 19:28
So this Unlock Moment of remarkable clarity, when you figured out that you were going to change, what was happening at that time? And what made that the moment of clarity?
Amit Patel 19:37
Yeah, I mean, so I’ve been musing a lot about also this desire to continue to do something in business, whether it’s entrepreneurialism, or something else, so that, that had always been a draw since undergraduate years anyway. And I guess my final job was a reg job in Manchester. And I guess all of my, all of my concerns and reservations about my career, they were sort of accentuated during that job. And, you know, there was, there was sort of a process for me, which was like, you know, what do I do other than this, because the business world is not so programmatic in, in terms of career paths, it’s not vocational in the same, you know, linear path that medicine is. And so facing into the ambiguity, or the uncertainty, or the plethora of choices was really quite difficult. And, and I, you know, I went to a bunch of career fairs, almost revisited, you know, my A level days where I, you know, wanted to learn more about different careers. And, and looked to, you know, consulting, which, you may remember, we met at the careers fair in Bristol, at a stall, right. So I revisited all of these things about myself, and what’s available out there. And, you know, I picked three kind of paths, because, again, how do you, how do you hedge for the uncertainty of what might happen? So I started preparing for the GMAT, to be able to apply for business school as a way of diversifying my career. I looked at roles in pharma, which could lead to a career in something more commercial. And I also went down the route of looking at consulting firms and applying to those strategy and M&A consulting firms to really understand whether I could go down that route and get a generalist kind of foundation around big business and how strategy works. And you know, how P&Ls work and all that kind of stuff.
Gary Crotaz 22:01
And did you already know that you were leaving? In your mind? Or did it take going to these events to help you to make that decision? When did you actually know that you were going?
Amit Patel 22:15
That’s a, that’s a very good question. I think I only knew that I was going after I got some offers to leave. And I sat down with now my wife Uzmah, who you know, we all went to medical school together. And we discussed finally, the pros and cons of actually executing on any one of those offers. What would that look like going forwards?
Gary Crotaz 22:45
So you had a spreadsheet of some kind? A way of weighing it up?
Amit Patel 22:50
I could barely use spreadsheets at that point, to be perfectly honest! So it was a piece of paper with pro and con analysis. No weightings.
Gary Crotaz 23:00
Interesting! And could there have been a possibility that you could have been sitting there with an offer to go and do something different, and you decide not to?
Amit Patel 23:12
No, I think in answer to that question, I think it was a foregone conclusion. And I wouldn’t have continued with the process of exploring other kind of pathways if I wasn’t resolved to go, I think in hindsight. But in my head, you know, I hadn’t taken the active step of like, giving in my notice. So it wasn’t a fait accompli until it was done, basically. So, you know, there was a lot of anxiety around the decision for lots of different reasons, you know, whether it’s external perceptions, or what my family might think. My consultant at the time thought I was, like, crazy bonkers, to, you know, where do these career paths go? Most of them will pay me, you know, at least 30% or 50% of what I was earning at that point, because I was almost retraining. So there was a, there was a lot, many, many, many, many factors, you know, not least the most of those offers were, required relocation from Bristol to London, which isn’t a, I didn’t want at the time. So there was quite a lot of things to consider in the round and get over before we could you know, definitively, or I could definitively make that decision.
Gary Crotaz 24:37
So a lot of things on the, on the negative side of the not very well built spreadsheet! What was the strongest thing for you on the positive side that made you make the decision to go?
Amit Patel 24:51
Probably the fact that I’m in control of my own destiny? Yeah, it was a moment of taking control, rather than being subservient to, like, what I was dealt with or the situation that I was in. And, and actually taking an active step. And there’s that saying isn’t there, if you if you expect a different result and don’t keep doing the same thing or words to that effect, you know, if… you have to change, and you have to make a change, and for these sorts of things you need to take control of that change, rather than let it happen to you. And I think really, that realisation was one. And I think the other realisation was the fact that there, you know, as a person, as an individual, even if you’re a medic, or whatever you’ve been doing, it is possible, there is possibility in doing other things, even becoming the Prime Minister, or flying to the moon, or whatever it might be. And unless you’re resolved, and can understand that there is that possibility, you’re never gonna make, even you’re not even gonna put one foot towards trying to get there. You know, so I think those two things and the backing of people around me, so obviously, my immediate family, and Uzmah, were critical counsels, if you like, and sounding boards for me. And if I didn’t get their support, and their support didn’t come in endorsement, or kind of what’s the right or wrong answer, it was just the ability to talk to someone almost very dispassionately about something and analytically weigh the pros and cons of it, but the decision was always mine. And it was like a supportive conversation rather than a constructive conversation.
Gary Crotaz 26:51
There’s something very particular about leaving medicine. And maybe this is true for other professions as well. But in medicine, it’s pretty difficult to leave and then go back. Because what I say to people is, people don’t leave medicine, it’s not, it’s not a career that you leave, it’s not the done thing. It’s not considered positively. And in a world where within the medical career, as you get high up the tree, it’s incredibly competitive to get roles. If you’re the person that has on your CV that at some point I wanted to do something different, and quit. And then it didn’t work out, then I came back and tried to sort of ingratiate myself back into the system. When I left, I remember just knowing that the decision I was making now was one that I could not go back on. And so I’ve talked to lots of people about the idea of failing forward and going, I don’t know whether this next thing is going to work. But if it doesn’t, then the next step can’t be go backwards into what I had just come from. How did you feel about leaving? Did you feel that same sense of, this is a not going back kind of moment? Or did you feel there was an option for you that you could have gone back and carried on where you were before if it didn’t work out?
Amit Patel 28:05
So I think, for me, philosophically, however you want to put it, it was a moment of never going back, you know, it wasn’t going to happen. The only practical reason why I might go back to medicine would be only twofold. One, I needed money, and I couldn’t get money anywhere else. And so I fall back into the profession that I knew best. And, and you know that, that would have been a kind of, you know, based on real dire need, frankly. The other reason would be COVID-type scenarios where for the greater good of the world, more doctors need to be on the front line. And so, you know, I had my limited registration reinstated to full registration with a requirement to go back but, having three children to homeschool and my wife on the front line, it was very difficult for me to obviously go and do that. But those, those in my head would be the only two reasons, but otherwise, I didn’t think I would be looking in the rearview mirror.
Gary Crotaz 29:18
I felt the same, COVID for me was the first time you know, and I left medicine earlier than you I think, I probably, I left medicine in 2004. So it was, you know, COVID was 16 years after I’d ever picked up a syringe in anger. And I went and did my vaccinator training. And then really frustratingly in my region of the country, they didn’t want any volunteer vaccinators, so I never gave a single vaccine … but I was like, I’m here, I’ll go and do the training. I did the training on a Sunday, you know, rushed round to get everything sorted out, got my uniform, and then I couldn’t actually stick a needle into anybody because, you know, they had enough provision from the health service. So it was a bit of a shame. Standing on the edge of the diving board then, knowing that when you stepped off, there was no going back, how did that feel?
Amit Patel 30:09
When I did it, life was chaotic, because we then, you know, I moved, I was sort of temporarily living in Manchester but moved back to Bristol with Uzmah. I had to wrap up my flat, sell it and various logistical things for a period of two or three months before we moved to London. And probably the point at which, so I was too busy to really consider whether I was going to hit a rock if I, if I jumped off the cliff, if you like. But, you know, it was, I started L.E.K. [consulting firm] the week after my birthday, and Uzmah took me to Barcelona. And actually that, that was amazing. I felt really liberated, hard not to feel good in Barcelona, frankly! But you know, I felt very liberated, that I’ve taken that step, that on Monday I would be, you know, not donning any blues or gloves or seeing any patients, I’m actually going into an office and, and the excitement and energy around what that could look like, from day one, maybe day three, day, you know, week two, I mean that, that was so energising.
Gary Crotaz 31:30
And for the listeners’ benefit, L.E.K. is a consulting firm. So it’s a, it’s a business, management consulting firm that you were, you were in the office, again, you know, we’re working together there because something I said clearly in Bristol encouraged you to, to come and join the L.E.K. family, which was, which was, and it was great to have you on the team. So one thing, something I find very interesting in your career is that you’ve been through two career changes that have represented an increase in risk, and probably a decrease in income. So the first was from successful surgeon, you know, to first year or, you know, to early stage in a consulting firm, and as you said, you know, very significant salary drops that you needed to swallow at that time, because you’re going back into retraining. And then fast forward a few years. So you’ve made it through the ranks in consulting and then into, you know, the senior roles in a global healthcare firm in BUPA. And you kind of been an internal entrepreneur-type function really hadn’t you at that, at that time. And talk to me about the kinds of things that you’re doing there. And then this transition to being, you know, founding your own business. What did that look like?
Amit Patel 32:45
Yeah, I mean, innovation and venture build in companies, corporates, is difficult. You know, the, the only reason why I stayed to do that role was, was really because we had agreed as part of me doing that role, that there will be certain things you know, factors, environmental factors that would be put in place. So the ability to spin the entity out and raise independently of BUPA was one of those factors, for example. Incentivisation which wasn’t your traditional salary-style incentivisation was another factor. Now, the reality of life is, you know, corporates are very good at kind of committing to these things, but then undoing them as time goes by. And, you know, that creates a lot of pressure and anxiety amongst, you know, people who are working in these ventures. And it doesn’t give you wings, you know, it’s not the Red Bull that you need, frankly. And so they, you know, it was a really interesting experience. I mean, I built BUPA On Demand, which was a pay as you go healthcare marketplace, and we scaled that business to about 7 million pounds of annualised revenue. But, you know, just the processes, the systems, you’re very shackled around what you can do, because we weren’t able to spin out, and we were, or I was incubating that proposition within a regulated business within the BUPA insurance business. So I get I’ve got to points of frustration a bit like when I was in medicine, frankly, that you know, the levers of autonomy that you had, whether it’s capital flows, whether it’s a decision to hire people, whether it was you know, how you deploy marketing budget, or what platforms you choose, they just diminished over time. And, you know, if I get fidgety and frustrated like that, then I generally do something about it … is the way that I work. And actually, it came at a point in my life, I turned 40 in 2018, and, and you know, I saw… I don’t know, you get reflective over time don’t you, let’s face it, with age, and, you know, first couple of grey hairs appeared and whatnot. And, you know, I kind of said to my wife, I’ve done a lot of things so far in my career, maybe I should do things on my own terms, right. And I can see a lot of problems in the way things have been done in certain aspects of healthcare service delivery, or financing, or whatever it might be. Or maybe I can impact that by doing this thing on my own terms in a faster, bigger way. And it is a bet and you know, I’m taking a big swing. But I do like to think that I live life without regrets. And if I truly, authentically, honour that being, then I’ve got to go and do this, and I’ve got to leave where I am, albeit it’s a very safe, protective environment, we can really nice holidays, our kids can go to private school. You know, you can work one morning a week and you know, life is just hunky dory. But, but I need to go through the pain because otherwise I won’t be true to myself and I will look back after 5, 6, 7, 8 years, if I just continue what I’m doing, going kind of I wish I’d done this, you know, even if it fails, even if it failed, I wish I’d done it. So that’s, that’s where we are. I’m constantly doing that, like do I still live today with no regrets. Yes, I do. And therefore I’m still honouring that, that feeling that was really important to me.
Gary Crotaz 36:54
That’s so powerful. When you describe, even if it fails, there’s this compulsion to do it. I’m sure you’re better at spreadsheets now than you were back in the day. But I imagine that your spreadsheets of pros and cons that you would have had at that point in your career, the pros and cons, would they have been much different from the pros and cons that you looked at at the end of your medical career?
Amit Patel 37:19
You know what, I think the stakes are a lot higher now. And I, you know, what rings true is your point around taking more and more risk. I do feel like personally, I’ve taken a lot more. You know, firstly I’ve got family to support, back then I didn’t, right? And you know that I’m in the prime earning years of my life if you like, and I’m foregoing that ability to do that to pursue Peachy for example. So I think the stakes are a lot higher, and they’re a lot higher for the people around me too who have joined me on this adventure. So I do feel a sense, like a major sense of responsibility. And literally, I was just come off, before talking to you, I’ve just come off to a potential investor into our business who is a school friend of mine. And he was like, Come on, just chill out. What’s up with you? You know, I’m a mate of yours. Yeah, of course, I understand it’s, it’s risk capital, all this kind of stuff. And I couldn’t, I think I’ve kind of oversold the, the responsibility that I have to him, as an investor, to want him to understand, you know, what I’m doing and the product that I’m building and all that kind of stuff. He was just, he thought it was laughable, you know, so I am taking this very seriously, believe it or not!
Gary Crotaz 38:46
What drives you to want to take this risk and this responsibility on at this point in time more than anything else?
Amit Patel 38:54
Well, one, clearly I see an opportunity, there’s a commercial opportunity to do it. I think, you know, I didn’t want to work under anyone else’s terms to pursue that opportunity, which is why I’ve stepped out. And, you know, for, for me, there’s this ambition to build something. And, and to know that the first brick I put down to the very last brick and the windows and the floors and the roof and all of that, you know, it wouldn’t have happened unless I laid those foundations. And it’s really the first opportunity that I’ve had to be able to build what I think is a fitting culture for a company. Because you know, being in big entities, you can’t impact the culture, you have to almost work with it. Whereas you know, I’m very demanding, I’m non-accepting of certain behaviours and certain things. And I’m a very can-do person and and all the people around me find that challenging, but they come and join me on these sorts of journeys because they want to feel that too, or they want to get entrenched in that too. And that I think, is just a different level of belief, a level of ambition, a level of possibility, which I haven’t personally felt in other companies.
Gary Crotaz 40:24
And where does the ambition come from?
Amit Patel 40:28
I think that comes fundamentally from my parents, you know, they instilled doing better, getting, you know, learning all the time, doing the right thing, these sorts of things and, and, you know, it’s not really a material thing. I think material things are consequences of this underlying thing. But you know, for me, I’ve got my own family, I’ve got three beautiful daughters, I want them to look up to someone in their family as a figurehead who has done some amazing things, right? Whether that’s built a company, whether it’s, you know, use technology in a particular way, whether that’s made loads of money at some point, hopefully. But some, you know, that kind of sense of, you know, well, we’ve gone from nothing to something, whether that’s team size, or office size, or product and proposition, you know, it’s something along those lines, this sort of many, takes many dimensions for me. And, and also, I always temperature-check that with what other people say about me, and what I’m doing. And I know then that I’m on the right course, and this is all worth it or not.
Gary Crotaz 41:47
What does authenticity mean to you?
Amit Patel 41:53
For me it’s about, I guess it’s about this ultimate trust and honesty and integrity that you exchange with other people. That’s what that is for me. And, you know, that means, you know, no back chat, it means direct conversations, whether they’re difficult or not. And, and everyone knows where they stand. And you know, Darren, my CTO, will tell you, I can be very authentic, because we’ve had some very difficult conversations early on. I mean, to the point where he probably thought, God, this guy’s crazy, right? Did he really say that to me? But I was just being honest. Yeah. And I’d rather be honest, get it off my chest. And I don’t mean to hurt people or say it in a negative way, but just, you know, clear, clear, clear what I’m feeling out to someone. So they know, you know, how I feel about something. And I want them to reciprocate back exactly in the same way. And then only do I think you find middle grounds, of, of union and trust, which lay the foundations for, for your relationship going forwards, and to be able to do bigger things. And I feel that, that relationship building piece, without that I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Because you know, whether it’s you or anyone else that has made an impact in my life, I always seek to have authentic conversations with you guys.
Gary Crotaz 43:39
When I listen to you talking, I can hear the power for you of conviction, passion, belief, in what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. And there have been moments as we’ve talked about, through this journey, where you have taken the harder path deliberately, to do something that, that really means something very important to you. So, if you look forward in 10 or 20 years, what would you like to look back on and be proud of having achieved in that time?
Amit Patel 44:16
Well, I think if, you know, I would like to think that Peachy will become a success and look back on that. And even if it doesn’t, that we’ve moved with, with conviction, we’ve pivoted, and we’ve smartly done something with the company, which basically impacts the world of healthcare for people. That’s, that’s really what we’re here to do, right? It’s to get people the care that they need when they need it, right? And obviously it costs money. So we’re providing a financing solution to enable that. And if I can make one small dent in that space, whether it’s us personally, or it’s us through others, because they’ve seen what we’ve done, even if we’ve not been a success, then for me that’s success in its own right.
Gary Crotaz 45:11
It’s amazing. So who, who out there should be looking at Peachy and going, This is a company that I need to be finding out more about and maybe, you know, engaging with? Who are those target customers for you? What is it about Peachy that that can help them?
Amit Patel 45:28
Well we’re, we’re effectively targeting millennials, and small and micro enterprises, when we end up launching our SME product which will be at the six month point of launch when we come out of the Financial Conduct Authority sandbox. And what we’re trying to do is effectively create a product which is more inclusive, and more digital, and more targeted to customers that don’t traditionally access private healthcare. However, you know, given where we are with the state of the NHS and waiting times and, and our kind of renewed understanding of health is wealth after COVID, I think we’re a company that are trying to make that whole process possible as an option for someone to go private. And then to make the customer journey much simpler and more digital, a bit like how you would use a digital bank account like Starling or some of these other banks. And so you know, we’re the new kid on the block, we’re here to change things up. And we’re here to use technology and data to make life much more efficient for people.
Gary Crotaz 46:44
And if you were talking to another 40 year old person senior in a corporate role, who’s thinking about taking the leap and doing their own thing, from your experience of your first while with Peachy, what advice would you give them?
Amit Patel 47:00
It’s a rocky road. So make sure that you’ve got the conviction to go after it. You’re gonna have to face into uncertainty, bigger uncertainty than, than you’ve probably faced in your entire career. Financially it can be devastating. And so you’ve got to have the ability to hustle, and hustle hard, so that you can maintain a level of income that supports your family, but also enables you to fuel the growth of whatever you’re doing in a way that basically makes it go fast. Because the one thing that none of us at this age, we really haven’t time on our side, we haven’t got time to slow things down. And I think the final thing is if you’re bootstrapping, and this is probably nuanced to me a little bit. It’s a very different mindset to spending a corporate budget that you’ve been allocated, versus, you know, your own money, which basically is the shirt off your own back, right? And, and you’ve got to finally get into that mindset where everyone understands like cautious spending, if it’s your own money, etc. But you’ve got to know where to spend the money and how to deploy it quickly to move to your next milestone. And I think for me, that was the biggest adjustment when it came to spending my own cash. So probably those are the major things I would say. And probably one other thing. Don’t underestimate your relationships. By the time you’re 40 you have got many, many relationships across different walks of life, different careers, geographies. Never underestimate the power of unlocking those relationships for your endeavours. And I think that is absolutely critical. And probably I knew about it. I tried to execute it, but didn’t recognise enough of that. And I’m beginning to realise the fruits of the investment in relationships that I’ve put in over the years, now.
Gary Crotaz 49:06
Amazing. What does the timeline look like from from here on? When are people going to be able to see and use Peachy for the first time do you think?
Amit Patel 49:14
So Peachy is launching in June, the latter half. So it will be available for individuals first. And as I mentioned, we’re in what’s called the Financial Conduct Authority sandbox, we’re the first health insurtech to be in that. It has some constraints while we test and trial the platform, make sure things work operationally, so we can only sell policies to 250 customers and we can’t launch our SME product, so all of those caps with a good headwind will be released in six months’ time and then we’ll have more products out. But yeah, check us out on LinkedIn. Our web pages are all live at http://www.Peachy.health and you know tap me up, I’m happy to have a coffee in our office in Hackney.
Gary Crotaz 50:02
Fantastic. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity when you suddenly know the right path ahead. For surgeon, strategist and health tech entrepreneur Amit Patel, it was the decision to take ownership of his future path that gave him the confidence to quit his medical career, strike out on his own and ultimately to found the Peachy health tech business for millennials and SMEs that he’s now about to launch. Amit, thank you so much for joining me today on The Unlock Moment.
Amit Patel 50:31
Thank you, Gary.
Gary Crotaz 50:34
This has been The Unlock Moment, a podcast with me Dr. Gary Crotaz. Thank you for listening in. You can find out more about how to figure out what you want and how to get it in my book, The IDEA Mindset, available in physical book, ebook and audiobook format. Follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to this podcast to get notified about future episodes. Join me again soon