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Partnering with Clipboard: Taking Care of Caregivers

Thanks to Wei and her team, nurses have the power to decide when and where they work.

Even before the pandemic, America’s health care system faced an urgent nursing shortage. Demand is on the rise as the youngest baby boomers reach their 60s, most nurses themselves are over 50 and nearing retirement, and many people are not entering the workforce due to the arduous nature of the job. Though it’s difficult to imagine anyone more deserving of healthy working conditions than those who take care of us and our loved ones, the reality is that long hours and other demands lead one in three nurses and nursing assistants to quit in the first two years—and COVID-19 has made a bad situation worse. With hospitals and other facilities struggling to fill shifts, an estimated 500,000 professionals will leave the field in 2022 alone, and patients will inevitably feel the strain.

Part of the problem is that historically, nurses have had little if any control over how they work. But the team at Clipboard Health is working to fix that.

When we first partnered with DoorDash in 2014, it wasn’t yet clear how the then-nascent gig economy would evolve. Today, we are seeing the next wave: a fractionalized workforce where individuals claim the shifts they want, on demand—and that’s exactly how Clipboard works. Founder and CEO Wei Deng and her team have automated and scaled a marketplace for nursing, putting a better work-life balance in the palms of nurses’ hands. Companies get a more practical solution for filling their shifts, and nurses are empowered to do the work they love, where and when it is best for them, for better pay. We spoke with several who told us Clipboard has truly changed their lives.

That was Wei’s goal when she founded Clipboard six years ago. When we first met with her and Clipboard president Bo Lu (also Wei’s husband, and the co-founder of Sequoia-backed FutureAdvisor) in 2019, we weren’t yet sure what the company would become. But we did know that Wei was a dynamo. As a child, she persevered through multiple attempts to immigrate to the U.S. before eventually settling in Kentucky and graduating from Yale Law School. Later, her commitment to helping people led her to leave behind a successful career in investment banking and startups, teach herself to code, and start a job board business that eventually became Clipboard.

Wei signed up the first few nurses and facilities herself—while she was eight months pregnant, no less—and her passion for health care and its providers has continued since those early days, which are accurately characterized as “customer obsessed.” She cares deeply about the people she serves. When we reconnected with Wei this past fall via Retool founder David Hsu, she again struck us as wildly competent and highly iterative, with a profound understanding of the challenges facing health care facilities, nurses and their patients.

Now, three years after our first meeting, Clipboard’s performance speaks for itself, with rapid revenue growth, more than 30 U.S. cities live, and, best of all, fierce love and loyalty from nurses. The average nurse uses the Clipboard app for 10 shifts every month, most work at more than three facilities, and many have moved to the platform full-time. It is clear to us that Clipboard is restructuring the labor market in one of the world’s largest industries. This has enormous—and thankfully, positive—implications for health care providers, companies and patients.

Sequoia is proud to lead Clipboard’s Series C. Nearly a decade after we first met Tony Xu, we see in Wei another special founder restructuring the labor market in one of America’s largest industries, and enabling professionals to decide when, where and for whom they work. Clipboard has created not just a win-win for nurses, facilities and patients, but a model that has the potential to shape the future of health care and beyond.