Allied Healthcare Training Reimagined: Why We Invested in Stepful

May 25, 2023

The healthcare industry is facing a workforce crisis. Roles remain unfilled for up to nine months and staff turnover has reached an all-time high of 20%. Staffing shortages that were looming have been further accelerated by the pandemic. Combined with an aging population — among both the healthcare workforce and the U.S. population writ large — demand for allied healthcare workers is greater than ever before.

Yet for many aspiring healthcare workers, taking the first step feels impossibly difficult. The vast majority of training programs today require anywhere from eight months to two years to complete and can cost up to $20,000. Many are geographically dispersed and not easily accessible for those juggling work, family and other time demands.

There is a better way. Over the past two years, Stepful has been tackling the healthcare workforce shortage with programs that prepare job-ready graduates five times faster, at a fraction of the cost. As the company continues to lay new pathways to rewarding careers in allied healthcare, we are thrilled to lead Stepful’s $7.5 million seed round, joined by Y Combinator, Grand Central Tech and EO Ventures.

Starting with Medical Assisting and Phlebotomy, Stepful is reimagining allied healthcare training with a digital-first, mobile-friendly environment for student cohorts that is interactive, applied, and highly motivating. The program not only equips learners with the technical skills and knowledge to earn certifications, but also teaches them how to build their resume, interview, and be successful on the job.

Stepful’s programs are designed for busy adult learners, with a focus on career outcomes. To date the company has graduated over 1,000 students, with the majority being women (93%), Black & Latinx (90%), and from low-income backgrounds (88%). Over 80% of graduates passed their certification exam and reported an average 25% income increase after finding a job within two months of graduation.

Unlike existing programs, Stepful takes a peer-to-peer oriented learning model that motivates and supports learners on their journey. When a student gets stuck, they can lean on their study group to break down hard concepts, practice key interview questions, and buoy them through life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Cohort after cohort, as the company expanded from its home base in New York to a national program, students reported an average NPS above 80 — a testament to its ability to scale without sacrificing the learning experience. One student recently wrote to her mentor: “Thanks to your help, I have been able to explore my strengths and weaknesses, identify my career aspirations, and develop a plan to achieve them. Your unwavering support has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams.”

Employers are happy too. As DaVita, one of Stepful’s 100-plus (and growing) employer partners, remarked: “Retention is very strong compared to other schools. Students have been very consistent.” Stepful graduates land at leading hospital systems like Cornell Weill and next-gen primary care providers like OneMedical.

With these strong results, Stepful now has a network of thousands of externship partners to help place students for practical experience. Moreover, health systems are now partnering with Stepful to build tailored talent pipelines by both upskilling existing staff and recruiting new talent to meet the specific needs of their institution.

Making all this click is a mission-driven founding team that combines go-to-market, digital learning and technical depth to ship quality at high velocity. CEO Carl Madi previously led the growth of Uber’s EMEA division from 0 to 3,000 drivers, and has a knack for customer acquisition. (In fact, Stepful counts former Uber EATS delivery drivers among their graduates.) Tressia Hobeika previously built online learning experiences at Udacity and Triplebyte, and is deeply embedded in every step of the Stepful learner journey from admissions through placement as Chief Product Officer. Edoardo Serra, Stepful’s CTO, co-founded two companies before building a team at Apple, where he grew Siri’s international team from 6 to 120 people. 

Since we first partnered with the founders in 2021, they’ve more than tripled the team while serving ten times more students. Stepful’s growth could not be more timely. Healthcare is the fastest growing job industry, with demand for medical assistants increasing 16% over the next decade. This is driven by a host of tailwinds including the rise of digital health and the move towards value-based care, where health systems are rewarded for helping patients improve their health, reduce the effects and incidence of chronic disease, and live healthier lives. With these changes, health systems will optimize clinician time at the top of their license (focusing on services that make full use of their specialized training), which means leaning even further on medical assistants and other allied healthcare workers for the many other important dimensions of healthcare.

Stepful is expanding its programs to new roles such as pharmacy technicians, coding and billing and building career pathways for its alumni with continuing education and upskilling opportunities like EKG technician training. We are incredibly excited about the big strides it’s taking toward transforming healthcare vocational training across the globe.

If you are inspired by Stepful’s mission, please check out their open roles!