houston innovators podcast episode 148

Houston innovator tackles growing nursing shortages with startup platform

Benjamin Foster joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to talk about Nurseify. Image courtesy of Nurseify

The past few years have been challenging for health care workers, and even before the pandemic, hospital systems were facing a nursing shortage, says Benjamin Foster on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

It was during Hurricane Harvey that Foster, leading human resources at Gulf Coast Division at the time, saw a huge need for an alternative to hiring short-term nurses quickly. That's when he had the idea for Nurseify, a platform that allows for nurses to find jobs — and for facilities to find nurses with the specialties they need. The platform is now live in five pilot states — Texas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Nevada.

"Part of the reason those are our pilot states is those are states that are projected to have five of the top 10 nursing shortages," Foster says on the show. "We also see a lot of seasonality in those states. If there are certain periods of time where patient volume increases a lot, you need to bring in more nurses."

Now, having launched, Foster says he's focused on growing density in those regions — for both the facility side and the nursing side — so that there are more opportunities for users of the platform.

Nurses are facing a significant amount of burnout — in part due to what they went through during the pandemic, but also because of the stressful work environments due to hiring misalignment. Foster says he's intentionally designed the platform to be supportive of nurses.

"We want Nurseify to be known as the most nurse-friendly company in the world. We believe we can bridge the gap between administration and operations and nurses," Foster says. "We want Nurseify to become a verb at some point."

In addition to being a marketplace for nurses and health care facilities, Foster says he is staying completely tapped into ways to provide resources and support for the user base — which, statistically, is a primarily female industry.

"Nurses are worn out because we've asked them to work so much during the pandemic, and I would argue that as an industry, we have not done enough to protect them," he says. "We want to be a voice for that."

Foster shares more on the future of Nurseify and the difference his platform is making in the industry on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.

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Building Houston


VR training startup, HTX Labs, has raised funding from an outside investor for the first time. Courtesy of HTX Labs

HTX Labs, a Houston-based company that designs extended reality training for military and business purposes, announced last week that it has raised its first outside capital.

The company has received a $3.2 million investment from Cypress Growth Capital. Founded in 2017, HTX Labs — developer of the EMPACT Immersive Learning Platform — has been granted funding from the Department of Defense as well as grown its client base of commercial Enterprises. The platform uses virtual and extended reality that "enables organizations to rapidly create, deploy, measure, and sustain cost-effective, secure, and centralized immersive training programs, all within engaging, fully interactive virtual environments," per a news release.

“We have been looking to secure outside capital to accelerate the growth of our EMPACT platform and customer base but we hadn’t found the right partner who provided an investment vehicle that matched our needs,“ says HTX Labs CEO Scott Schneider in the release. “We found everything we were looking for in Cypress Growth Capital. They have a non-dilutive funding model that aligns with our capital expectations and have the level of experience that really makes this smart money.

"Cypress has a decade-long track record of success in helping emerging software and services companies achieve scale," he continues. "It is clear that the team’s collective entrepreneurial and operating experience will be of tremendous benefit to us as we focus on expanding our customer base in a very intentional way.”

The fresh funding will go toward growing and scaling the company's operations — both within the current Department of Defense and expansion opportunities into key commercial markets, like heavy industry, manufacturing, and higher education. Additionally, the funding will support increased customer adoption.

“Scott and his team have built an exceptional business that is poised for dramatic growth,” says Cypress Partner Pat McCaffrey in the release. “HTX Labs’ modern, immersive training solution provides clients with a force multiplier for modernizing training and an unmatched ROI.”

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