/mar 30

by: Carte Blanche Studio


Finding your purpose and people with Ahmed Qureshi

Welcome to the Edition 002 of The Lenny. Here, we celebrate entrepreneurs who are loud, bold and unapologetic in the ways they are changing the world. This month, we’re incredibly excited to introduce Ahmed “Eddie” Qureshi, the CEO and founder of Valorant Health, who is increasing access to care in underserved communities throughout the United States. 

Qureshi founded Valorant Health in 2018 after experiencing the impact of limited healthcare access. Hoping to address the issues faced by US veterans, Qureshi was inspired to create a leading virtual care platform to improve the lives of more than 31 million Americans currently living in “medical deserts.” Today, Valorant Health serves a population of 85,000 individuals, including veterans, service members, and people living in rural communities. We had the privilege of sitting down with Qureshi, who can teach us all a thing or two about finding your purpose and the right people along the way.

1. What’s one thing people don’t know about you? 

“I’m actually a lab-trained scientist – my background is in synthetic biology and biochemistry. So before I became a founder in digital health, I was mixing using pipettes and moving those around. But from a more personal perspective, by the time I was twelve, I’d already lived in three countries – Pakistan, Canada, and the US. All the moving around gave me a great chance to experience a lot of different cultures and languages and meet some amazing people.” 

2. What’s your entrepreneurial origin story? 

“My entrepreneurial origin story starts with my grandmother. She was one of the first female physicians in Pakistan. It exposed to me at an early age that healthcare is not equally accessible to everyone, and that still remains true in Canada and the US, where we have so much work to do. 

My mother still lives and serves as a physician in an underserved rural community in Arkansas. For me, the connecting dots was less around just being a founder; it was more about how I can continue increasing access to care. So I initially started in the medical device world and moved to early-stage drug discovery and expediting that process. Now, in digital health, we’re using different technologies but are focused on that same theme of increasing access to care, and that’s how it ties into Valorant.”

3. How did you come up with the idea to launch Valorant Health?

“I had so many friends and family members close to me – amazing, incredible, and smart folks – who had served in the military. But after a 30, 35-year career, they weren’t able to get access to care as easily as we would expect. I started off by helping them out and getting them some exposure specifically, and then I realized that it’s not just within the military or veteran populations; it’s indigenous communities as well. It’s these massive, underserved geographies.

Even though so many amazing folks work in digital health, these communities consistently keep getting left behind, and the tools don’t make it all the way there. So it was about creating a partnership around bringing these tools that have traditionally served more large metropolitan areas, which usually tend to be focused around large, software-based employers, and bring them to other communities that would also benefit and make everybody healthier in the process.”

4. What are your superpowers?

“I’m not a big fan of talking about myself, but I’ll give it a whirl. It’s finding people who are incredibly smart, smarter than myself, and then aligning them on a singular mission – one that could have such an outsized impact on so many people. Honestly, I think it’s the ability to bring together an amazing team.”

5. What do your attribute to Valorant Health’s success – is there a secret sauce?

“It’s our team, our timing, and, lastly, our technology. There are many things that need to happen to make a massive shift in something as entrenched as healthcare. But let’s take a step back – the veteran community in the US is actually the largest health system in the world. It spends a third of a trillion US dollars every year, covering roughly 20 million folks. So for us, having a team with these insights into this massive health system is incredible.

As for timing, it was timing from a policy perspective, which guides so much around health care. We had massive legislation that moved along the ability to get better care and more easily accessible care outside of some of the government institution agencies. And then the technology, which we think of as the front door – the accessibility portal. Patients don’t need to worry about whether it’s legitimate or has clinical backing. We do virtual care, which is now old-school, but we were a pre-pandemic virtual care company.”

6. What’s your greatest success and greatest failure?

“We were able to navigate these slower-moving, incredibly bureaucratic agencies in a reliable way, which opened the door for our partnerships. When you have to spend years negotiating contracts and working with agencies, it slows down the process. So we built the right team to navigate these complex systems and get contracting mechanisms to leverage when we needed them with the right partners, who can hold massive amounts of dollars, which is obviously a great incentive. But for us, it’s always about the mission alignment, the tens of millions of people who we could then bring these care tools to.

As for failures, all start-ups have ups and downs. There are all these things that come up, and you only have a handful of people who are tackling all of these things at the same time. One of the hardest ones came for us about a year and a half ago. We had an amazing product. We started servicing patients but couldn’t afford to have a team anymore. With healthcare in the US, huge lags happen between when you provide care and when you need to pay the providers, to when you get reimbursed. As a small company with a small bank account, we still wanted to keep providing payments to our physicians and providers. But we’re not getting reimbursed, so we’re on the hook. And we eventually had to figure out spots to put the rest of our team.

A couple of months later, we graduated from the Creative Destruction Labs incubator, which started in Toronto. That brought a bunch of investors to us, and I called up my old team, who were now working in other places, and I said, ‘Hey, I totally understand you’re at this amazing new place, but if you would consider joining us, I’d love to bring you on again – we’re in a good financial place now.’ And one of my team members said, ‘Do you want me to start tomorrow or Monday?’ It blew me away at how wonderful all these folks are, who are still part of our team.”

7. What’s your best advice when it comes to being loud and bold?

“I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I think it’s creating the right team. I’m so glad we’re having this conversation, but the rest of my amazing team doesn’t get to be here. But it’s really a testament to them that we’re able to do this. Just a lot of wonderful things happen when you bring together some really great people and then give them room actually to help build on the vision and create solutions. Everybody says, ‘I want to be my own boss.’ But for me, it’s actually the greatest privilege to build a team I want to work with. I’m excited to come and see these people and work alongside them.”

A final word

Qureshi is a founder full of purpose. One who clearly cares about the people around him and about humanity as a whole. So when asked what’s next for him and the Valorant team, it just makes sense that they recently launched a community-based mental health and wellness app called vPresent

The app aims to help combat loneliness by allowing users to connect with friends, family, and team members with guided meditations and breathwork. It encourages folks to take a minute for themselves but together to benefit the community – and to us, that sounds a lot like Qureshi fulfilling his life’s purpose. 

About Carte Blanche Studio

The Lenny is a newsletter produced by Carte Blanche Studio – Toronto’s leading creative agency. We’re passionate about the world around us and love helping brands authentically express themselves to build a more connected future. Follow us on Instagram to learn more.

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