Shaper: Melissa Morris

Show aired on 24th June 2017

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was Donald Byrd with (Fallin’ Like) Dominoes. Good morning this is Jazz Shapers and I am Elliot Moss, thank you very much for joining me. Jazz Shapers is the place where you can hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and right alongside them we bring their equivalents in the world of business and we call them Business Shapers. My Business Shaper today is Melissa Morris, she is the co-founder and CEO of Network Locum and Network Locum is a very clever online business which puts self-employed locum doctors into positions that are available in local GPs and you’ll be hearing lots about that from Melissa very shortly. In addition to hearing from her you’ll be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and then we’ve got some brilliant music today from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul. The wonderful Nina Simone, new blues music from Taj Mahal and Keb Mo and this from Dinah Washington.

That was Dinah Washington with the iconic Mad About The Boy. Melissa Morris is my Business Shaper here on Jazz Shapers today she’s the co-founder and CEO of Network Locum as I said earlier and they help locate the gaps in the requirement for GPs to be around doing their GP roles with doctors that want to take on a role, the locum word basically. Melissa thank you for joining me. I know that you’ve been a management consultant, I know that you were working in the NHS tell me about why you decided having seen the problems there that you would do something about it because many people see problems and they stay in their lovely cosy jobs not many people actually set their own business up. What made you decide to actually do it?

Melissa Morris
I think there is a few things. I think one, I was exposed to obviously lots and lots of problems and I never really felt like I could get my hands on them and really solve them and I’m quite a hands on person I don’t really sit still and I think I got a little bit frustrated being in an advisory role where you sort of give people advice and then you kind of walk away and then that’s it and you have to start on another problem and I really love seeing things through. So there was one thing that really resonated with me which was just seeing how inefficient staffing was. I was in a hospital and I saw that the most qualified doctor was basically spending all of his time organising the rota which is you know not really the most effective or efficient use of somebody so qualified’s time. So that was one of the reasons why I did it. Also my parents were entrepreneurs so I guess growing up I must have really kind of, it must have been ingrained in me as I was growing up so they were also extremely encouraging when I thought about leaving McKinsey and going to do my own thing they were very very supportive and I think a lot of other people’s parents probably might have been a bit more risk adverse so I’ve been very lucky from that respect as well.

Elliot Moss
Just help me understand you did a business administration Degree at the University of Bath?

Melissa Morris
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
And then you went into the city, I think you worked for Lehman Brothers at some point?

Melissa Morris
I did, yeah.

Elliot Moss
You worked at Citibank and then McKinsey. Did you do that because you thought that would just be, was that the right thing to do for you at that time? Was it you thought well this will be good training or was it something a bit more…

Melissa Morris
I really thought I wanted to be an investment banker. I always found like I had a good grasp of numbers, I liked finance when I was at University and I guess in those days being a banker was kind of cool. It’s not anymore obviously and it’s very different now with start-ups being like the thing to do. I think I really thought I wanted to do that and then when I actually experienced it I really realised it wasn’t for me at all. The culture is very aggressive and I think it’s quite difficult when you are very low down the ladder to really enjoy what you’re doing. I felt like I really wanted to be you know in front of clients and doing some of the stuff that all the senior people get to do.

Elliot Moss
And that’s why you became a management consultant and just briefly intellectually stimulating yes but you talked about, I like your thing where you said you just want to be more hands on. Was that obvious to you very quickly that you felt like you were slightly ham strung, that you were slightly different from the problem even though you could give someone a good bit of advice.

Melissa Morris
Yeah, totally. I think especially in banking because you’re sort of building these models for these giant deals you know somebody buying another enormous company but really you don’t understand kind of any of the context behind it or what the kind of numbers you’re putting into a model actually mean which kind of leads to mistakes if you’re like me and you have terrible attention to detail. If you have that I think you find it very difficult to advance in banking because you really do need that kind of obsession over correctness and detail and it’s just not something that comes naturally to me.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper today that’s Melissa Morris, co-founder and CEO of Network Locum. Time for some more music and it’s brand new from Taj Mahal and Keb Mo and it’s called Ain’t Nobody Talking.

That was Taj Mahal and Keb Mo with the brand new Ain’t Nobody Talking. Melissa Morris is my Business Shaper today and she is the woman behind this very clever idea which is aimed at solving the staffing problem for doctors. You mentioned a number of things immediately Melissa and one of them was that there are highly qualified doctors who aren’t using their time in the best possible way. That frustration, was your idea borne out of frustration and irritation or was it just you know what there’s a gap there and I want to fill it and there’s a distinction to me what you do think it was? Were you irritated or were you just spurred into action?

Melissa Morris
So there wasn’t really a gap in the market because the gap is being filled by manual methods so actually you know there are eight hundred or something medical recruitment agencies in the country doing this job so it wasn’t really so much, oh there’s a gap there no one’s doing it. It was just seeing how ineffective it was and I just hate inefficiency. I think I did something, a personality test recently and the top thing like I loathe inefficiency and that really resonated in me because I do and obviously you know when you start putting a business case together as you have to when you want to raise money etcetera you do see, yes that this could actually be really big it’s a massive problem. Everybody needs medical staff, doctors want to be free from bureaucracy and administration and actually as you start testing the market you see that there really is a need for this. So yeah it was mostly from sort of irritation about the market but equally I knew that this was going to be a really big opportunity.

Elliot Moss
And then you have to set this thing up so you’ve had the idea then you go okay fine now what and what was the first step that you took because again they move from being employed to being completely self-employed did you know where to start?

Melissa Morris
Oh god I mean I have had a really funny journey. So I left McKinsey and I decided I was like, oh I don’t really know enough about you know the NHS and its inner workings I mean you know it from an outside perspective but you’ve really got to be in it to really understand it and so I left and I went to go and work for the NHS itself when the coalition Government came in and completely reorganised the whole of the NHS and nobody knew what it was going to look like. So I joined a strategy team and basically worked there for a year to really understand how it worked. So I did that and that was eye opening and I have honestly met some of the most brilliant people from within the NHS that I still am very close with today.

Elliot Moss
And did you do that just to be clear because you knew you were going to set your own business up?

Melissa Morris
Yeah so I already had the idea of Network Locum but I knew what my failings were so instead of just kind of, oh I’ll figure it out and being a bit arrogant about it I was like no, no, no you know actually I can, there are some things I can actually do to learn a bit more and get advice from different people and so forth so I did that and then I realised I was like okay well I need to raise some money so I didn’t have a clue you know how to do that. I ended up applying for this Sky TV game show which was, it was called the Angel and it was this game show where basically entrepreneurs go on it and then you get eliminated one by one so it’s a sort of cross between the Apprentice and I don’t know some other kind of cheesy game show in front of a studio audience. It was live as well which made it even more embarrassing. Anyway I won and the prize was £100,000 so I mean just imagine you know you’re twenty three and you suddenly get £100,000 to start your business and you think this is it now, I’ve made it and then anyway it all sort of came to pass that the deal wasn’t quite the right deal for us so I turned the money down in the end but you know it gave me a really good step forward because CityAm ended up covering that I had turned the money down and then after that I actually ended up meeting some great angels who gave me the money that I needed and yeah so it was a bit of an unorthodox journey but nevertheless I don’t regret it.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to find out the next instalment of how Melissa Morris got her business off the ground despite winning and turning down the money. This great programme I do remember it actually it wasn’t great, it was a bit strange. Latest travel in a couple of minutes and before that some words of wisdom from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya for your business.

This is Jazz Shapers and every Saturday I get the chance to talk to someone who is shaping the world of business if you’ve missed any go into iTunes put in the words ‘Jazz’ and ‘Shapers’. If you’re on British Airways in the near future you can always tune into the British Airways High Life channel and you’ll find some of the best guests that we’ve had over the last five years right in there. Melissa Morris is my guest right here today and she’s the co-founder and CEO of Network Locum, they help get rid of that problem and in fact address the issue of very clever doctors trying to work out rotas for people that might need to be placed in roles that need to be filled and Melissa has come up with a natty bit of software and we were just talking about your TV fame and you turning down the money – it just wasn’t good enough for me, I didn’t want their money. What happened after that though Melissa you said you raised some money and then did you know what to do with it? I mean this is the thing I often ask people that have done this for the first time did you know where to start investing? If it was software who were the software developers?

Melissa Morris
So yeah I had no clue. I literally had no clue and I actually do think I talked to my fiancé about this because he also started a business at the same time as me and we were saying god you know if we were trying to start a business in this day and age when it’s so much more competitive in-tech we would probably have failed. I mean I just made so many mistakes, so many hiring mistakes they’re the dangerous ones I think.

Elliot Moss
If you had no clue really we wouldn’t be having this conversation so something must have got you through quite quickly.

Melissa Morris
I think it’s just the ability to learn from your mistakes. So I really did have no clue but I think you know as soon as something goes wrong don’t for god’s sake repeat the same mistake because you’re going to get the same outcome and just be able to be nimble enough to change you know.

Elliot Moss
Did your idea change along the way because many people I speak to they actually pivoted about fifteen times and then the product you got wasn’t the product they started within their mind.

Melissa Morris
Yeah so the product has changed significantly. I wouldn’t say it was as drastic as a pivot but the way in which the product does what it does has changed a lot so when we first started it was all about gap filling so you know if you can’t find a doctor that you need and its last minute or whatever you would post the job and we would bring somebody to you but now it’s much kind of, much more of a software play so what I mean by that is we give a workforce management software basically to our users and that helps them work with people that they know and trust and it values relationships and we also provide a lot more tools for the doctors to completely free up their administration so we didn’t use to have for example invoicing tools or payment software etcetera and we have all of that now so the idea really is all about how can we free up people’s time to focus on what they need to focus on.

Elliot Moss
And along the way very early on once you realised you addressed the problems you had these issues as you said that came about at what point did you go, do you know what this might just work?

Melissa Morris
No I always thought it was going to work. I think that self-belief of like you know there is no Plan B at all so yeah I’ve always had that feeling that you know this is going to work. It has to work.

Elliot Moss
And when did you get funded significantly because I know you’ve raised I think over £5,000,000 in venture capital was that relatively recently or was…

Melissa Morris
So yeah we did a VC round last summer so that was in around August time with BGF Ventures and Piton Capital and Piton actually invested a little bit earlier as well a year before that so yeah we’ve got a really great network now of people who really know what they’re doing and can support us which is great.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper today that’s Melissa Morris but it’s time for some more music right now. Nina Simone is here and she’s with Mood Indigo.

That was Mood Indigo from Nina Simone. I’ve been talking to Melissa Morris all about the trials and tribulations of setting up a business and you’ve been very honest with me you said I didn’t have a clue. You say things have got more competitive now I’m sure they were pretty competitive then why do you think you got away with it in a way, why do you think we are here having this conversation?

Melissa Morris
Well when I started Network Locum in 2012 there were no labour market places so we didn’t have Uber for example. I didn’t really have anybody to learn from. The only market places were really ecommerce market places like Ebay etcetera so I was sort of looking at those and thinking how can this model apply to staffing but it was, it really wasn’t as competitive and you know now if you walk around Shoreditch which is where our office is you know every man and his dog has got a business idea or everyone’s starting something and people are leaving their day jobs in their droves and it’s just not, it’s a very different time now and that is great because it’s so creative and I think it’s really wonderful that people are empowered and they can solve problems but it also means it is much more competitive particularly when it comes to funding because you know there is a fixed pot really in the UK particularly as how much money can be invested and you’ve got to think you know there’s probably ten times the amount of people now trying to draw on that capital and I wouldn’t say that the capital amount has increased by ten times.

Elliot Moss
Has your ambition changed over this time I mean when you set it up it was to address the problem and the frustration as you said you loathing inefficiency what is it driving you now? What is pushing you forward every day?

Melissa Morris
I’m not sure my ambition has changed but the problems I’m trying to solve have changed a lot so it’s no longer about you know how are we going to get a product that works in the market or how am I going to get investors to take me seriously. Now it’s like you know how do I design the right organisation and motivate my team in order for us to really grow at the rate that we have been and as you grow you know the whole dynamic changes so there was a point when we were a family and there were like you know six of us in a room and working on everything together and now it’s much more structured and we’ve brought in more senior management and we’ve put these processes in place that I used to kind of sneer at the sort of HR processes and things like that and we have all of those now and we’ve become a proper business. So now it’s sort of about me proving to myself you know that I can step up and I can lead a kind of proper business as well as muck in and you know do what I was doing before and keep the energy levels high.

Elliot Moss
And in terms of this team I think its roughly fifty people I believe that work for you.

Melissa Morris
Yeah fifty.

Elliot Moss
What’s your style? I mean I imagine it’s the way we’re talking now I’m pretty sure you’ll be the same with all of them.

Melissa Morris
Yeah I’m very hands on so I still, I still get really involved in things for example I went to Birmingham for a full week with my team and I was actually doing door-to-door sales that was only like a month ago but then equally I do a lot of strategic stuff so whilst I love injecting a little bit in the beginning I do then like to step back and let the team kind of get on with it.

Elliot Moss
And you’ve eluded very clearly to the fact that things have changed as it is now in a different stage of the business are you enjoying it in the same way Melissa?

Melissa Morris
I am enjoying it in the same way. For me it’s all about learning and because we have grown at such a rate I’m constantly learning and there are things that I am always trying to solve. I think the day I stop learning is probably the day I will stop enjoying it and that will probably be the time for me to step aside but at the moment no I am still definitely enjoying it. I think the other thing is so long as you can surround yourself with people that really inspire you then it also just becomes a great place to be so you know we’ve got such bright people that come to work with us and they’re all driven by the same mission of really improving healthcare and it’s such a joy to go and see them every day you know I do not wake up in the morning and think, oh god you know I’ve got to go to work or have that meeting like I bounce out of bed every morning so, yeah I still am enjoying it in the same way.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with Melissa today plus we’ll be playing a track from the Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca that’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

That was the fabulous Roberto Fonseca with the funky Family. Melissa Morris is my Business Shaper just for a few more minutes. It strikes me that you’re inside a business which is inherently and not just your business but the NHS its political in nature with a very small ‘P’ I’ll add because this is not about politics for either party how do you navigate those changes that happen because the NHS becomes one thing for five years, it becomes another and we all read about it. Does that affect your day-to-day plans?

Melissa Morris
Of course I mean it’s something always in the back of my mind because the NHS is our biggest stakeholder and our only client so it’s extremely important that we are aligned with everything that they do. I think you know my approach has always been about providing value at the grass roots so you know building something that doctors love, something that people who are managing rotas love and then how can we actually then facilitate some of the policies actually that are being pushed forward so for example there’s a policy, I don’t know if you know much about the NHS but there’s a big kind of piece called the five year forward view which is the plan for the next five years for the NHS and one of the kind of cornerstones of that is (a) well obviously use of technology because the NHS has no money as we all know and the other is how can providers so GP practices and hospitals how can they work together in order to leverage the scale so therefore as well like save money and one of the things that we do is we help GP practices join together and share their staff between them so they don’t have to rely on agencies so much. Now that is a really great way to help them align with the policy. They might not ordinarily want to work together or be able to work together but this is a really simple piece of software that helps them to actually just start to work together for the purposes of sharing staff. So it’s kind of how can you really provide value and then how can you also help people align with the legislation.

Elliot Moss
Does it matter that you have one client? I mean it may sound a strange question because obviously in this country there is a National Health Service but does that change the way you think about innovation in your own business?

Melissa Morris
It’s interesting because whilst its one client technically it doesn’t mean that you just get one contract and therefore you’re dominating the NHS or you know you still have to go to each individual hospital department or each GP practice because they are individually run but I guess does it matter? It does matter because changes that get made to the NHS as a whole effect everybody that works for the NHS so you really have to keep on top of all the decisions that are made and yes they do affect you on a kind of much larger scale. You are generally more exposed to the kind of political risks that other businesses in the private sector are not but you know with that you also get to work for an incredibly important part of the country you know something that touches everybody and I think that actually kind of you trade off the political risk and some of the risks involved with running a business with the NHS because of the mission and because it’s just so important to everybody.

Elliot Moss
And just very briefly before we go on to your final, our final piece of music and your choice. You talked about the NHS five year go forward plan what’s yours in a nutshell? Where are you going to be in five years Melissa?

Melissa Morris
Oh gosh you know that’s quite a tough question because we adapt so much, every time we learn something we’ll adapt and I don’t really believe in rigid five year plans like that for something is quite a new idea so I guess I want us to innovate and to continue to innovate. I would love to be able to provide different types of staff as well as doctors, help people schedule nurses for example, pharmacists’ etcetera and I also would love to see if it worked internationally so I went to the US recently, there’s quite a big market there. Australia obviously as well there’s a really big market for freelance doctors. So yeah I guess continue to innovate, provide value and see if we can do it internationally.

Elliot Moss
Good luck.

Melissa Morris
Thank you.

Elliot Moss
May the force be with you and it’s been really fascinating talking to you. Just before I let you go what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Melissa Morris
So I recently got engaged.

Elliot Moss
Congratulations.

Melissa Morris
Thank you very much yeah so I’m about to join the most wonderful family, my fiancé’s family are amazing and they live in Australia so I don’t get to see them very often.

Elliot Moss
Even better.

Melissa Morris
Yeah, so they’re big jazz fans so I asked my future mother-in-law what she would like to hear, this is for Marina.

Elliot Moss
You’re so clever, this is good isn’t it? They’re going to like you forever.

Melissa Morris
Yeah, yeah, hope so because they’re stuck with me now. So this is Miles Davis and You’re My Everything.

Elliot Moss
Excellent, here it is just for your mother-in-law to be who is called…

Melissa Morris
Marina.

Elliot Moss
That was Miles Davis with You’re My Everything the song choice of my Business Shaper today Melissa Morris actually for her future mother-in-law Marina in Australia. Melissa someone who loathed inefficiency, someone who saw that that needed to be addressed and that’s what really drove her to create the business and someone who has created a business whose mission is all about improving healthcare. I don’t think it gets much better than that. Do join me again same time, same place that’s next Saturday 9.00am sharp here on Jazz FM for another addition of Jazz Shapers. Meantime stay with us because coming up next its Nigel Williams.

Melissa Morris

Melissa Morris began her career at Lehman Brothers, where she was a Capital Markets Reporter (2005-2006). She was later an Analyst in the Investment Banking Division at Citi Bank (2007), and then a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company (2008-2010). She then worked as a Management Consultant/Strategy Analyst for the NHS. During her time at the NHS, she noticed that one of the biggest problems she faced was staffing – it would take a long time to find the right doctor for the right role. In 2012, she worked as an Adviser to the Clinical Commissioning Group at McKinsey & Company for five months.

Since August 2012, Melissa Morris has been CEO of Network Locum, a company based in Shoreditch. The platform allows self-employed locum doctors to find work at GPs’ practices and helps surgeries to find cover when they need it.

Network Locum was based on the advice of GPs and it works closely with a small team of doctors. The business has an app where a user can find work: locums are notified on their smartphones on any new job postings. The aim is to cut out recruitment agencies, thereby saving the NHS money.

Follow Melissa on Twitter @meliss_morris.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

I was exposed to lots of problems and I never felt like I could get my hands on them. I got a little bit frustrated being in an advisory role – I really love seeing things through.

I really thought I wanted to be an investment banker.  I liked finance when I was at university and, in those days, being a banker was kind of cool.  When I actually experienced it I realised it wasn’t for me. The culture is aggressive and it’s difficult to enjoy what you’re doing when you’re low down the ladder.

I needed to raise some money so I ended up applying for this Sky TV game show – sort of like the Apprentice but in front of a studio audience.  I won the £100,000 prize but the deal wasn’t quite right for us so I turned the money down in the end.

City A.M. covered that I had turned down the money down and then ended up meeting some great angels who gave me the money I needed. It was a bit of an unorthodox journey but I don’t regret it.

If we were trying to start a business in this day and age when it’s so much more competitive in-tech we would probably have failed.

I made so many hiring mistakes, they’re the dangerous ones I think. You’ve just got to be nimble enough to change.

I’ve always had the feeling that this is going to work. It has to work.

Every man and his dog has got a business idea and people are leaving their day jobs in their droves.

I used to sneer at HR processes and things like that and now we have all of those – we’ve become a proper business.  So now it’s about me proving to myself that I can step up and I lead a proper business as well as muck in like I was before and keep energy levels high.

We’ve got such bright people working with us and they’re all driven by the same mission of improving healthcare. It’s a joy to go and see them every day.