Techstars, is the largest pre-seed Tech accelerator program in the world -most famously known for backing Uber in 2009. In partnership with JP Morgan Chase, Techstars is welcoming 24 new companies to its DC cohort this Fall.
One of those companies is led by a Nurse Anesthesiologist. Dr Ayoade “Joy” Ademuyewo, is the Founder and CEO of Lokum, a mobile matchmaking platform with a mission to connect independent contractors to employers easily. The growing platform was created to facilitate the creation and management of local talent pools that bridge the gap between employers and independent anesthesia contractors, while dis-intermediating recruitment agencies.
In 2020, Joy witnessed several Nurse Anesthesiologist colleagues lose their jobs at least temporarily due to COVID. She witnessed friends and colleagues struggle to find work. Some dealt with staffing agencies that took advantage of them, presented them without their consent, or behaved dishonestly. At the time, agencies were also in the news for capitalizing on the tragedies of the global pandemic and significantly altering the market landscape in healthcare through price hikes. News reports followed 200 Lawmakers and the American Hospital Association when they took action and urged the White House to investigate staffing agencies for violation of consumer protection laws.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about this problem. This seemed to be such a huge pain-point for both sides. Since the pandemic, the demand for CRNAs has skyrocketed, along with market prices, which has made clear that Lokum App is a much needed and timely solution.” says Ademuyewo, who self-funded a simplified version of the platform in early 2023 to raise awareness and gain traction.
Ademuyewo says “We are facing a staffing crisis in healthcare, specifically in anesthesiology and advanced practice medicine. We need effective technological solutions that facilitate the deployment of a limited (but essential) workforce smoothly and efficiently. “I investigated the problem over a period of 2 years before I realized someone needed to build a tech company to address these issues. I did not think that person was me. But once I started gathering information on the problem and the solution, and getting feedback from leaders in this industry, I realized we were already on the path to building that company. I’ve been obsessed ever since.”
Many CRNAs want the flexibility and autonomy of being credentialed at a few facilities where they can choose when and with whom to work. Facilities and Groups are also struggling to find creative solutions to meet their staffing needs while managing high staffing costs.
The platform has gained over 2000 Nurse Anesthesiology clinicians and anesthesiology groups who are connecting with one another directly to fill open roles without a middle-man.
As she joins Techstars in September to bring the full vision of Lokum App to life, Joy is aiming to innovate audaciously with the help of her anesthesiology community, a fierce group of healthcare change-makers that have already played a pivotal role in the platform’s success.