Atlanta's SnapNurse Grows from startup to Billion Dollar Company

By Jeff Richards
  • Jul 30, 2022

My Background: 

My name is Jeff Richards, and I am the chief operating officer of SnapMedTech, Inc., the parent company of SnapNurse. My background is in trauma anesthesia. I spent 19 years working as an anesthetist, educator, and hospital administrator at Grady Hospital, the flagship trauma hospital for the city of Atlanta and the Southeast. I started there as an anesthetist learning from some of the best trauma anesthesiologists and trauma surgeons in the country and eventually moved up to Chief Anesthetist and finally Department Director. As Department Director, I was responsible for staffing all our operating rooms and procedural sites daily. And like every hospital administrator, I was tasked with coaching and mentoring my staff while engaging in multiple patient quality initiatives, tracking time and attendance, and running biweekly payroll. With all those competing priorities, by far my most significant pain point was staffing. When I needed to add supplemental staff, there was no interface, no platform available for me to review, rank and select qualified staff quickly and easily. Instead, I would get endless calls from different staffing agencies who didn’t know or care about the quality of the staff I needed. They would fax me blurry, nearly illegible resumes with providers whose skillsets were a complete mismatch for a Level 1 trauma hospital in a major metropolitan city. They sent me dozens of providers who could work in other settings, but I did not need or want to see them. I just needed to see the providers who were qualified to work in my hospital.


I began speaking to numerous peers in the anesthesia and found their experience was identical to mine. All of them were frustrated that there was no platform to review and select staff that matched the acuity level of their facility. In 2016, I went back to school to get an MB. I wrote a paper about a mobile healthcare staffing app that would allow hospital administrators like myself to search for top talent that matched the degree, specialty and acuity level needed for their facility. In many ways, I had been preparing myself for SnapNurse before it came into existence. I fully understood the problem on the buyer side of the equation, and I was accumulating the methodology to solve it.


How did SnapNurse come to be?


I could have never known that at the same time, my former classmate from Emory University, Cherie Kloss, was already building the working prototype that would become the minimal viable product (MVP) for SnapNurse. And in one of those impossible lightning bolt moments, Cherie reached out to me in the Spring of 2017 and asked me to help her with her new startup: SnapNurse.  So, after graduating together 19 years earlier, somehow we had the same idea at the same time focused on solving the same problem. We both wanted to create an online marketplace for both nurses who need a job and facility managers who want to book them. When Cherie reached out to me in 2017, she had just founded the company and needed to raise capital. Once I saw the basic MVP she had been working on for six months prior, I knew on the spot that this was the right idea, at the right time, solving the problem I understood—that healthcare lags in adopting technology from other industries by almost a decade. This was 2017, and there was no time to waste. I joined Cherie to start raising seed capital right away. We pitched multiple institutional investors here in Atlanta and were always told no. We were told the idea was “brilliant,” but they wouldn’t bet on us when it came down to execution. So, with no venture money available, we bet on ourselves. I became the first investor, and together we raised $1.3 million in seed capital in 30 days from friends and family who were almost entirely in healthcare, understood the problem and most importantly, believed in the two of us. After we raised seed capital, we started pitching to clients, and I resigned from my job at Grady hospital and never looked back.


What are the challenges in healthcare staffing currently? How are you helping address it?


Reskilling is probably the most exciting new program we are launching in 2022. There is a nursing shortage that will take years and tens of millions of dollars to solve but even more pressing is the shortage of specialty nurses. SnapNurse partners with hospitals to help reduce the shortage of much-needed specialty nurses in a matter of months. Our new reskilling program will meaningfully add to the pool of specialty nurses for each facility while containing hospital costs. This is a win-win for the nurse, who gets new and improved specialty skills, and the hospital, which gets new specialty nurses with the option to hire them on full time after their one year of obligation.


What makes SnapNurse relevant today?


Hospitals don’t need staffing vendors; they need technology workforce solutions partners. SnapNurse plans to partner with hospitals to license our software to book their own staff, manage their own internal workforce, pay their workers daily, and decrease their dependency on supplemental staffing vendors. The healthcare staffing crisis is at a breaking point, and we need to work together with our clients to address it. It’s bigger than all of us.


How do you differentiate yourself in the healthcare staffing space?


SnapNurse has differentiated itself as the largest healthcare staffing platform by embracing the ability to scale. There are other healthcare staffing platforms, but none of them have figured out how to scale like we did, growing 40,000 percent in two years. The differentiation is in the user onboarding experience, which now includes any type of healthcare provider and even non-clinical roles. Our brand has now become a verb by nurses who refer to themselves as being “Snapped” when they are placed on assignment by SnapNurse.  Being “Snapped” is all about easy, user-friendly onboarding, placement, deployment and instant payment after the first shift. It sounds simple. It’s easy to understand and appealing to our workforce, but it’s not so easy to build. That’s the magic that has made our platform rise above the crowded healthcare staffing marketplace.  

What does innovation mean to SnapNurse? 


One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One.” “Properly defined, a startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future. A new company’s most important strength is new thinking: even more important than nimbleness, small size affords space to think.”


That new thinking mindset, combined with nimbleness, is deeply ingrained in the SnapNurse work culture. It drives our thirst for innovation every day and even as we have grown much larger in the last year, we still have the heart and soul of a startup…but with much better cash flow.


What does the road ahead look like for SnapNurse? 


For one, we must recognize that we basically did the impossible in the last two years, growing from a tiny company to a large one during a period of blitz-scaling and hypergrowth.  
We have grown to this size with almost 500 internal employees and thousands of nurses in the field at any time, and we will continue to grow in a more stable and steady manner. In two years, we have established 15-20 years’ worth of business development. Now we have the opportunity to go from a tech-enabled healthcare staffing platform to a trusted partner with our hospital and facility clients. Hospitals don’t need staffing vendors; they need technology workforce solutions partners. We want to partner with them to use our software to manage their own internal workforce, pay their workers daily, and decrease their dependency on supplemental staffing vendors. The healthcare staffing crisis is at a breaking point, and we need to work together with our clients to address it. It’s bigger than all of us.