The guest today on Scrubbing In, a medical podcast focused on innovation in the OR, is Matt Tant. In this conversation, Lee Pepper (SpecialtyCare Cheif Marketing Officer) and Matt discuss how Relode is revolutionizing healthcare recruiting and changing the way people find rewarding careers in the industry.


Lee Pepper: It’s my pleasure today, to welcome Matt Tant, the CEO of Relode here in Nashville, Tennessee and I think, one of the things that I wanted to have Matt on the program this morning, was to talk about innovation in healthcare. And I think when you hear from Matt, you’re going to be fascinated to learn at his wonderful idea when it comes to healthcare recruiting. So Matt, thank you so much for joining us.

Matt Tant: Hey, thanks for having me and we’re excited to be here today and share more of our story. And learn more about you guys.

Lee Pepper: Great. Well, the first thing for our audience whose listening in our podcast, is when I say, Relode. I want to make sure they get it right. That’s, R-E-L-O-D-E. And one of the taglines that I like when I’m explaining Relode to people is that, you’re like the Uber to recruiting. And I wonder if you might just share with our audience what that means.

Matt Tant: Yeah, that’d be great. We … Actually, to unpack Relode how that name came about, when we were picking the company’s name … Some people say, “how did you come up with Relode?” Right? And just to unpack it a bit, as a former recruiter myself, our co-founder said, “Well, what does a recruiter do?” And I said, “Well, a client gives us a job description. We look at it, we research the position. We begin to locate candidates, screen them and then we package them up and deliver them back to the customer.” And he goes, “Research, locate, deliver … Relode.”

Lee Pepper: Excellent.

Matt Tant: And it was available for $9.99 on GoDaddy and as two struggling entrepreneurs, you just … You get it, you know?

Lee Pepper: You know, and I think hearing that … Just that snippet of that story, Matt, it’s one of the things that I come across in Nashville all the time, that people come to Nashville and they may have some other career. Like for you, it was in recruiting and we’ll get into some of your background, too. But then all of a sudden, this entrepreneurial bug hits and they get this great idea and that’s what I love about Nashville is kind of being an incubator, especially in healthcare.

Matt Tant: It’s a great town to be in right now. It’s a hot city, a lot of great talent here and especially, all the healthcare companies here that you can beta with and test with and you can go, you know, down the street on Maryland Farms and find another company to innovate with.

Lee Pepper: Right.

Matt Tant: So, it’s a great place to be to innovate healthcare.
But to answer your question, the tagline Uber meets recruiter. You know, at recruiting I think I’ve compared us to a lot of different technology companies. If you look at the other industries that have been disrupted or innovated like, travel agencies, like hotel rentals via Air B&B, Uber for taxi cab or ride sharing, all these different entities that have disrupted legacy businesses. We believe we’re very similar, we’re using technology to enable people, a crowd of people, to build a business. So if you think about an Airbnb host, they’re taking their existing home, instead of building more hotels like Marriott does, these people are taking their existing home and exposing it for rent via a technology platform.
Uber allows anyone to become a driver, right? Expedia, surfaces hotel data quickly cutting out the need for a travel agent. So, we’re no different. We’re building technologies to dis-intermediate the agency and to connect healthcare companies directly with the best candidates through our platforms. So, that’s what Relode is and sometimes we’re getting compared to the Ubers of the world, which is a great comparison.

Lee Pepper: I just love the technology. When I first heard about you guys a couple of years ago, I think about my personal network. And to have a technology in a company that I could leverage my network and help somebody find the dream job that they’re looking for. And then, for me to be potentially rewarded for that, without having to go through a traditional agency. I thought it was genius. And I think that’s one of the reasons even at Specialty Care, we’ve been putting some of our jobs for Perfusionist out to Relode because, I really think that a nurse, that a perfusionist, that a neuro physiologist, they know who the good people are.
I don’t necessarily have to go hire and outside agency if I could just network with our own team. They are going to know the right people.

Matt Tant: You know, this idea came about through that exact example. When I was a 21-year old rookie recruiter, the staffing agency I was working for received $144,000.00 retain search fee from GE and I was the lucky rookie recruiter that filled that job and I made a $14,000.00 commission and the agency made $130,000.00 in commission. And all I did was reach out to these bankers in Atlanta, through my Alumni database and I got six or seven great candidates back from just sharing the job description, offering $1,000.00 referral reward. And I got all these great candidates, screened them, sent them in to the customer and, Viola! We made $144,000.00.
And that’s when this idea for … AT the time, I called it, Ebay meets recruiting, came about back in 2005. It’s like, why did one of the top companies in the world with a massive recruiting team, why can’t they just connect in an online marketplace to the people who know the best people, which was the banker in Atlanta or in your case, the perfusionist, the nurse, the marketing executive. Good people knew other good people for the best job especially, where they live, eat, work, play. Not a college kid cold calling into Portland, Oregon from Nashville, Tennessee. It’s the nurses, the doctors, the perfusionist, the people who live in that city know the best people. The people who operate in that industry, know the best candidates for the job.

Lee Pepper: Right. I think that the example is so appropriate that if, I was to … If I was a recruiter and I was having to make that cold call, it’s going to be really difficult for me to get in touch with that person. But when you got somebody in your network that’s reaching out on behalf, it just seems like it’s just a much tighter fit.

Matt Tant: Or sitting at a T-Ball game-

Lee Pepper: Right.

Matt Tant: -With your kids going, “Hey Doctor Smith, has your job going? How’s things going?” Wow! I know this job over here, you could take. This is great.” And so, we’re getting the best candidates from people who are referring the best people.

Lee Pepper: Now, tell us a little bit about your background. Now, I know when I say you’re a local boy to Nashville. I mean, you grew up here in Nashville and you were heavily involved in sports, especially football. And then, you were lucky enough to become a scholarship athlete at Vanderbilt.

Matt Tant: Yeah. So, I was born and raised here in Nashville, Tennessee at Baptist Hospital. And then, went to a public high school out in Kingston Springs called Harpeth High School. And by the grace of God, receive a scholarship to Vanderbilt University to play football, and my brother was actually there on scholarship as well. So, the chance to go play with him but in the SEC, and then looking back, in one of the top academic schools in the country and it was an incredible blessing to me.
So, it really opened my eyes to, there’s more to business than just landscaping and construction and those types of laborist businesses. But just really exposing me to these new ideas, new concepts. But, ended up getting to play a brief stint with the San Diego Chargers, after Vanderbilt as a priority free agent. Graduated as a Junior and left early and then, you know really, once the retirement set in from football, I played from age four to 22, which was a pretty long career in football. I really had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life for my professional career.
So, I ended up getting my commercial real estate license. Little did I know that commercial real estate tanks prior to a recession. So, there was really no jobs, no income in ’05 in commercial real estate for a new rookie. So I put my resume online, and I got hired by a recruiting firm.

Lee Pepper: You know, it’s amazing because you’re still a young man. And for those of you who are listening on the podcast unfortunately, Matt and I have lost our hair many years ago. But he’s still a much younger man than I am. When I’ve been over to the Relode offices, I’m always impressed at, you’ve got a lot of young, talented people that are working there. And I kinda go back to this whole idea of Nashville being this wonderful incubator, especially in healthcare. And I wonder, you came out of college and you had some career changes to make getting into recruiting. You were still a pretty young man and I wonder, what kind of advice do you give to your staff now or to people listening, being a young person just coming out of school. And maybe they have an entrepreneurial bug but, they’re just kind of thrown into their first gig. Are there any words of wisdom you would share with your audience?

Matt Tant: You know I think that, I get a lot of people ask me that question and, you’re not going to figure out every industry right away. You need to go out there and learn something, right? Fail at something, become knowledgeable of something whether it’s profusion, real estate, staffing, addiction treatment. Whatever it is, you’re going to go learn something and you’re going to be great at it, right? Then you’ll figure out problems along the way that you can innovate with or you can stay as a career person and work the corporate ladder, climb the corporate ladder. For me, I think if I would have stayed in real estate, I would have found problems with it that I wanted to innovate. I’m a naturally curious person so I’m always trying to solve problems and I’m creative and I’m thinking outside of the box. I can’t keep doing something the same way knowing there’s a better way to do it or at least die trying.
My advice to people is don’t try to be a CEO right out of college. Go work for someone else, gain experience, build your Rolodex of network. Your Rolodex is going to be so powerful for you in the future. But, moreover, you need to learn something, you need to learn a skill. For me, I learned recruiting. I became really good at it. I became the CEO of my own recruiting firm and then was able to sell the business and I learned over a 12 year journey the ends and outs of the recruiting business from the bottom as a recruiter to the salesperson who was opening new markets to gaining new customers. I learned all these skills that I could apply to building Relode one day.
I think you just have to get out there and try and learn and be patient. Now, that’s hard. I’m very impatient but as I look back on my career, everything was a stepping stone and a teaching moment to prepare me for what I’m doing now.

Lee Pepper: You know, you say you refer to yourself as being somebody impatient but, as an observer from my point, I say … I look back and go, hey wow, you played football from age 4 to 22, that’s a lot of patience there. And then when I think you first mentioned you had this kind of seminal thought about eBay for recruiting and that was probably 10 or more years ago …

Matt Tant: 2005.

Lee Pepper: Yeah, I would say you’ve been pretty patient kind of nurturing these ideas and I think that’s one thing people, young people, have these really great ideas and I think an important lesson to know is that sometimes it takes a little longer to nurture or to incubate, don’t give up on it. It just may not be something that you’re ready to be fully [crosstalk 00:10:58]

Matt Tant: And you know, as I look back on that, if I would have jumped in and tried to build eBay for recruiting in 2005, Uber didn’t even exist at that time. So, I’ve been able to morph the job, the business plan over this 12 year journey in recruiting, so it really started out as eBay, which is more of an auction marketplace, and it’s morphed into more of this crowdsourcing component where anyone can become a recruiter whether it’s an HR executive, a stay-at-home mom who used to be a recruiter, a nurse who wants to earn supplemental income. I really morphed this business plan over this long journey but most importantly the network, getting into a position to put … well capitalize the business, understanding how to be a CEO, which is a responsibility, but it’s also … it’s a challenge to get yourself in a position where you can lead others, deal with a board of directors, deal with your investors.
But, if I look back at 2005, the market wasn’t ready. It would have failed miserably so everything was lining up via education, networking, financial, the industry … there’s no better time than now to be doing what I’m doing at Relode because the market is expecting on demand everything. Chinese food delivery on demand, garbage pickup on demand delivery or garbage pickup on demand, which I’m meeting a really cool company in a few weeks that’s worth a billion dollars doing garbage pickup on demand. So you’re seeing the entire marketplace preparing for these types of businesses, but in 2005 it wouldn’t have been a good time.

Lee Pepper: One of the things I admire, Matt, about you and your team is you’ve also been able to communicate a mission and purpose into your day to day job and I wonder if you might share a little bit about Mercy Ships.

Matt Tant: Yeah, that’d be great. I always struggled through corporate America. I had to separate this enate curiosity to give back and you had to do it on your own through your local community or your church or whatever and then you go do job and you separate the two. I learned about this concept called, Businesses Mission through a mentor about seven years ago, six years ago. And really, it started to get ingrained into me that any business I’m going to be a part of, we’re going to be a business on a mission to bless others and give back.
Then I also know the principle that if you can’t make money as a company, you can’t bless others because you’re going down. Right? So, it’s very important that you see these companies start with a philanthropy focus, if they’re not a not-for-profit, if you’re not making money, you’re going under. So, you have to have this balance of building a profitable business on a mission where people buy into the mission. No different than Tom’s Shoes, buy a pair, give a pair. Warby Parker, she’s in the dental clinics giving away free treatment.
Internationally, recruiting has such a bad rap, the industry as a whole. We wanted to really create a brand that people could buy into. We looked at things like giving away goats for every candidate you referred to someone in Africa and we looked at things like buy a pair, give a pair … I mean we looked at all kinds of different things, and I met this guy who bought a cruise ship and built a floating hospital that’s a ministry. It’s a Christian ministry in Cameroon, Africa. And you know there’s plenty of people to impact here in our local community but we really wanted something that got some creativity and marketing buzz. And also a lot of doctors and nurses love to go and serve around the world and we really love Mercy Ship’s mission. It was in line with our mission and so we decided on Mercy Ship so, we aim to send doctors and nurses and sponsor all their travel, all their immunizations to get to the ship.
We have a goal to sponsor 52 clinicians this year to get to the ship. I think we’re on number 14 or 15 so far and every transaction that flows through our platform for hires or contractors or temps, a portion of that money goes into a reserve bucket in the event that Mercy Ship contacts us and says, hey we have a doctor that wants to go to the ship or a nurse who needs to get to the ship. We’ll sponsor their entire travel, immunizations. It’s ranged from flying someone from New Guinea there and covering their travel costs for $2,700 to $7,200 for a physician to get from London who does cleft lip surgery. And we try to tie that into anyone. Everyone who works in our platform, be it customers, agents, candidates once success is created in Relode, we save our customers money, right, through innovation, technology, tech enablement … We save them money, we give them great candidates and we bless others in the process. And that’s just … It’s a new thing to the industry.
It’s a really big industry. It’s about a $23 billion dollar industry and you don’t see many companies visibly stating their giving philanthropy and we’re very vocal and open about that and we want to bless others and we want to impact Mercy Ships but we want to win and compete at the highest level and not just be a not-for-profit. I think tying in your mission into the business, it’s part of branding, it’s part of marketing but it is part of our story and part of who we are.

Lee Pepper: No, that’s one thing that I love about you and your team, Matt. How can people, if they want to learn more about Relode, what’s the best way for folks that might want to reach out?

Matt Tant: I think we’ve done a pretty good job building our website. You know, we don’t want to be a customer service call center support place, we want to be a marketplace that connects the best jobs and the best candidates in healthcare. So, agents are signing up by the thousands every month at Relode. We have a fairly good onboarding process, we’re building new, innovative features every week, deploying every week but the best way is to go to Relode.com. R-E-L-O-D-E.COM, not relode’.

Lee Pepper: Right. And it’s super simple. If you’re a nurse or a perfusionist or even a doctor, I mean, the process is really simple just to sign up as a potential person that could recommend new hires. It’s a few steps and then you would see jobs in certain areas that you may have contacts.

Matt Tant: Correct.

Lee Pepper: And then if you saw a job for a nurse, a nursing position or a perfusionist position then you would be able to then nominate somebody in your network through the Relode platform.

Matt Tant: Yeah, so as soon as you sign up, there’s a quick onboarding. You can skip it if you want to and then you’re kind of shown the positions in your job category in the locations you’ve selected. If we don’t have any jobs, we’ll tell you. We’ll notify you when you a perfusionist job does come in, in say Spokane, Washington or Knoxville, Tennessee. If there’s none in the area you’re looking for, we’ll notify you. You don’t have to do anything. If there are jobs, you’ll see the reward amount that you would get if you refer your friend or colleague and they get hired. So, it’s really basic. Just check out the rewards, figure out which ones you want to work on. If you’ve got questions, we do have talent advisors available to call immediately on the jobs, that know all the details. But yeah, it’s pretty simple.

Lee Pepper: Obviously, I know working at Specialty Care we know perfusionist is still a very hot career choice. Neuro physiologist, still a very hot career choice. What are some others? I think psychiatric nursing was always difficult to staff. Are there two or three other ones that you guys are looking for right now?

Matt Tant: I can look across the entire platform and the hottest, fastest moving positions is always a specialty nurse, whether that’s an ICU nurse, and ED nurse, night shift, OR. You know, it’s very difficult for some new college grad nurses to get a really specialty niche position. They typically are going into the med surge and it’s a long wait to get in and they’re only selecting 10 or 15 per market. We’ve had a lot of success placing new grad nurses in remote markets and other locations. So if you are a new grad nurse, come check out Relode and we can try to plug you in somewhere. But really, the highest demand job in our platform and the request from every customer is, can you take on 500, 5,000 nurse openings and it’s difficult. It’s a labor shortage in nurses today but it is the highest demand job with the most openings and not enough supply.

Lee Pepper: Great. Matt, thank you again so much for coming out …

Matt Tant: Thanks for having me.

Lee Pepper: … and sharing your time with us today.

Matt Tant: You bet.

Lee Pepper: All right, thank you.