Thomas Edison said, “There’s a better way to do it. Find it.” That’s the definition of innovation. Innovaccer was founded to accelerate innovation in healthcare.
In this edition of our Innovators @ Innovaccer series, we interviewed Daniel Chaitow, an “Xccelerator” who didn’t expect to wind up in healthcare IT, but has found success leading Corporate Development and Strategic Finance. Daniel’s experience in banking brought him to Innovaccer with the goal of advising, but he changed his tune after feeling the excitement and buzz around what we were achieving. Hear what Daniel has to say about why he chose Innovaccer to Xccelerate his career.
Have a question for Daniel? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I originally graduated with a law degree but decided not to follow that path and instead entered the world of finance and banking. I started dating my wife while working toward a master’s in finance at The University of Sydney. I spent the majority of my career working in M&A in Australia, then moved to New York in 2016 to lead digital health for PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Corporate Finance. My wife and I have a four-year-old son and are expecting another soon. As a family, we love to travel, and we love music. I play my guitar, and my son has a little guitar too—and we have jam sessions. I play anything from indie rock to the classics. But my son’s choices sway toward the latest Disney hits, so my catalog has recently expanded.
I was happy in banking; I enjoyed the pace and the challenge of getting a deal closed. I’d received offers from other clients along the way to join their companies, but I had never really considered any of them. Leaving my role at PwC wasn’t something in the cards for me. In 2019, I met the guys from Innovaccer (cofounders Abhinav, CEO, and Sandy, COO) and started building a relationship. My goal was to be their advisor. When they told me they were looking for someone to lead the strategy and finance organization, I spoke to my wife and said, “If I was ever going to bet on a company, this one is it.” Everything I knew about the company, the market, the leadership, and my gut, told me it was going to be a success story. It was an exciting opportunity with a company I truly believed in.
So, I took a leap of faith and left the world of advisory. I entered the hustle of startup life, where we didn’t have big teams but the people were brilliant. The urgency, innovation, and work ethic of Innovaccer felt exciting. I remember telling my wife that I didn’t see how this wouldn’t be a billion-dollar business within two years. Sixteen months later, it happened.
It’s changed a lot over the years and is always evolving, like the story of our company. I currently lead investor relations, strategic finance, corporate development, and business development.
I have 15 people in my group, most of whom are in India. They’re a group of super smart hard-working strategy and finance individuals with a strategic lens into how to grow the business, broker deals, invest in the strategy, and support the organization to be successful. From my first hire—who joined a few months after me—to some of the more recent team members, I’m really excited about all of them and the great contributions they make.
Given the fact that we are a global company, I try to make sure I have time to connect with everyone across the different time zones. I start work at 7:30 a.m. and join meetings with team members from India as needed. Throughout the day I spend a lot of time doing customer-, partner-, or investor-focused meetings, working with groups on how to best execute on, articulate, or augment our strategy.
In the afternoon, things generally slow down once the East Coast has turned off, so I have time for internal meetings and catch-up. Between 5 and 8 p.m., I switch off. I’ll go for a run, have dinner with my family, and put my son to bed. Then from about 8:30 to 11 p.m., once India is awake, I’m back online with my team reviewing documents and presentations. It’s a bit of a weird day in that it’s slower in the afternoon, but the bookends are pretty busy.
I think the velocity is incredible, as is the belief and enthusiasm that permeates throughout the entire company. The large India employee base is sort of a special differentiator, and it allows us to do a lot of different things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do—like run different experiments and get to operating leverage quickly on different ideas. But then it also comes with its own set of challenges. You have to be more thoughtful about how you build context for employees and how you make sure everyone understands what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And you have to make everyone feel like one company and one team across geographies and time zones.
There are many companies that are in the early stages of startup and uncertain what they’re doing and what’s going to become of them. And there are many companies that are big, mature, bureaucratic, and process-driven. There aren’t that many that are bigger but still maintain that entrepreneurial spirit—equivalent to the culture Google has maintained despite their size. That’s who we are as well. Innovaccer is a hotbed of entrepreneurial spirit and opportunities. The breadth of what we’re trying to cover is enormous. We’re going big and spreading ourselves wide while simultaneously homing in to focus deeply on what’s important. We attract smart, driven individuals who want to work hard, do a lot of different things, and learn and grow a lot as they go. Innovaccer has attracted an incredible talent pool of fantastic people to work with and learn from. Success begets success.
My family—my wife and kid—are the greatest sources of pride for me. My extended family is also important to me, and even though we’re across borders (in Australia), family is the most important thing in my life.
In the early days of COVID, we traveled back to Australia for a wedding. It was supposed to be a two-week trip that extended into two months that extended and extended again into 14 months! We ended up staying in Australia due to lockdowns, and I worked San Francisco hours for more than a year. I was up at 1:00 a.m. every morning (in the dark) as if I was in California, which was a really weird experience. But it was nice to be able to be with our family during that time.
I’d say working closely with Abhinav on the Roche partnership last year was a big milestone. We spent 18 months working on that relationship. I think it’s great to see how it came together, and I’m excited about the opportunity there.
And I’d also say all the fundraising and the investor community relationship building we’ve been doing has been incredible. There are a lot of great partners and supporters of the business who I really feel privileged to have worked with.
Leadership at my first finance role in Australia was always focused on the most detailed analysis and analytics to prove a point, and it made me believe in the importance of detail. But later on, a mentor turned that on its head for me, telling me, “Businesses are really just people.” That mentor was an incredible people person and showed me how important relationships are, and that doing the best analysis to get the best answer isn’t anywhere near as impactful as understanding the people and how to bring them around to your way of thinking, rather than to get the best point made or put the best point across.