A version of this article was previously published on Best Startup Canada.
Natalie Yeadon was recently interviewed by Best Startup Canada where, among other things, she shared our small business journey, how Impetus Digital delivers virtual collaboration experiences for life sciences companies, challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our future outlook for Impetus.
You can read the full interview below.
Tell us about yourself?
I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 18 years in a variety of sales, marketing, and early brand commercialization management roles, both in Canada and the US in several different therapeutic areas.
Currently, I am Co-founder and CEO of Impetus Digital, which acts as the “spark” behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis.
We accomplish this through our InSite Platform® in the form of InSite Touchpoints™ and InSite Events™, and have been leveraging our best-in-class asynchronous and synchronous virtual tools over the past 13 years for pharmaceutical companies across the globe.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Had we known the sudden acceleration of virtual engagements that the COVID-19 would bring on, I would tell myself that we need to be more proactive in hiring new talent.
Since then, this has been a major focus for Impetus in order to ensure that we can continue to provide our best-in-class services to our clients with no interruption.
What problem does your business solve?
One-off real-time meetings are associated with a range of issues. In-person advisory boards require finding a time and place that will work with all advisors’ busy schedules. They also force both Pharma representatives and advisors to travel and take time away from their families and/or work.
Not to mention the high cost and environmental impact associated with renting a venue, organizing transportation, food, etc. One can also debate just how effective these “one-off” type meetings really are in terms of gathering insights and fostering authentic relationships.
To overcome these barriers, we provide two award-winning virtual meeting and event solutions: InSite Touchpoints™ and InSite Events™, allowing our clients to host all of their virtual and hybrid programs on the same platform.
The Impetus InSite Platform® can be used for any type of meeting or program that would normally be held in person such as advisory boards, journal clubs, clinical trial planning groups, publication co-author working groups, patient focus groups, sponsorship committees, corporate events, training, medical education, and much more!
Compared to in-person meetings, virtual meetings on the Impetus InSite Platform® result in:
- +30% Increase in participant engagement rates, guaranteeing an average of 90-100%
- +60% Increase in the speed to insight-gathering and project completion
- +70% Increase in the quantity and quality of insights
- -75% Decrease in cost and resources
- 100% Client satisfaction
- 9/10 Average participant score
- >95% Reduction in environmental footprint
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Impetus Digital was founded in 2008. Prior, my business partner, Janice Smith, and I both spent 18+ years in the pharmaceutical industry in various sales, marketing, and early brand commercialization management roles.
We used to run many in-person customer advisory boards where we would fly people to a meeting destination and run a 7–8-hour meeting with our key opinion leaders. Although the conversations were excellent, we always found that we had little success in continuing those conversations over time. It was nearly impossible to get those one-off, single, interactional engagements to touchpoints that felt more authentic, holistic, and ongoing. The reason: other work priorities got in the way and we did not have the tools to allow sustained discussions to occur throughout the year. We knew we needed to do something different.
That meant we needed to invent something that did not currently exist, and that required leading-edge technology. It was at that moment that we realized that we needed to revolutionize how Pharma engages and partners with their most important stakeholders. We made it Impetus’ mission to disrupt the way companies interact and seek advice by using cutting-edge, convenient asynchronous & synchronous online tools to create long-lasting and authentic relationships.
What is your magic sauce?
We are set apart from our competitors in a variety of ways, including:
1. We offer the largest number and variety of asynchronous tools designed specifically for life science companies, including:
- InSite Exchange™ discussion forum
- InSite Surveyor™ survey-style questions
- InSite Annotator™ annotation tool
- InSite Selector™ selection and ranking tool
- InSite Mapping™ customizable drag-and-drop tool
- InSite Rater™ visual rating tool
- InSite Team Race™ customizable gamification tool
2. We also offer best-in-class web meeting and virtual event tools, all hosted on the same secure and compliant platform. Having everything in one place allows our clients to engage their key opinion leaders longitudinally, for example by adding pre- and post-meeting asynchronous touchpoints. In addition, this allows event organizers, sponsors, and exhibitors to engage participants before and after events as well.
3. Our signature White-Glove™ service and 360° behind-the-scenes support are what really set us apart from the rest. We provide a soup-to-nuts solution, including the virtual meeting platform, recruitment and stakeholder management services, strategy, technical support, and medical writing and content creation services. Our tools and services are consistently rated as “excellent” by our clients and their advisors, and we take all of their feedback into account to make sure that we are constantly evolving and improving.
4. We put sustainability at the forefront of everything we do and are actively working towards carbon-neutrality by 2030 (aiming for 2025). Since forming our Internal Environmental Committee in September 2020, Impetus has established important partnerships with the Green Business Bureau and Tree Canada, and we launched our official Tree Planting program on September 1, 2021. At the time of writing, we have already planted 1031 trees across Canada on behalf of our clients and employees.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
In the next 5 years, the Impetus team will continue to grow as we increase our business share across all regions. Our vision is to be recognized as the catalyst for healthcare transformation, one conversation at a time.
We are always working on new ways to use our large portfolio of virtual tools and improve our existing tools and services.
Recent examples include innovative programs such as digital content councils (online working groups meeting regularly to review promotional or educational materials asynchronously) and “community boards” where healthcare professionals can share best practices, discuss complicated patient cases, or conduct daily “e-huddles” during virtual/hybrid conferences.
We are also working on adding new and exciting data analytics features and visual dashboards to our online portals and reports.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
In 2020, as many other small businesses were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for our services more than tripled almost overnight. As a result, Impetus Digital’s small-and-mighty 11-person team came together to help grow revenue by 166% vs. 2019. Realizing the need for additional manpower to meet the increased demand, our team has almost tripled since then.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced our clients to quickly having to pivot from mostly in-person meetings and events to 100% virtual encounters. Before the pandemic, we focused mainly on virtualizing smaller meetings (< 50 participants) such as pharmaceutical advisory boards, working groups, steering committees, and medical education meetings. In March and April 2020, we helped transfer our customers’ in-person meetings to virtual meetings in as little as a few days, ensuring minimal disruption to the agenda, workshops, speakers, and participants.
In the second half of 2020, it became increasingly clear that our customers also needed a way to virtualize their larger events such as company-wide internal meetings and conferences. As a result, our small team developed and launched a brand-new virtual event solution–InSite Events™–in record time.
The main reason we were able to adapt and persevere through this quick increase in demand and initial staffing shortage is because of our team and company culture. From day 1, Impetus has been a remote company and we believe in empowering the team to think outside-the-box and dream big, believing that every action and idea contribute to the company’s success. To foster authenticity and connection virtually, we promote ongoing and open communication and put the team members’ well-being at the forefront of everything they do.
As the demand for Impetus’ services and tools skyrocketed in March 2020 and the team worked 24-7 to keep up, Janice and I made sure to show everyone how appreciated their hard work was. This included paying for meal deliveries for team members and their families and offering generous bonus plans and stock options. We also insisted that each team member would stick to our “summer schedule” and take every second Friday off, despite the continuously high workload. Concurrently, we made it our mission to proactively hire more staff to ease the pressure on the existing team.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
Life science teams can visit www.impetusdigital.com or book a demo at www.meetwithimpetus.com for more information on how Impetus can help optimize your virtual & hybrid stakeholder meetings, events, and programs.
About Impetus Digital
Impetus Digital is the spark behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. Our best-in-class technology and professional services ensure that life science organizations around the world can easily and cost-effectively grow and prosper—from brand or idea discovery to development, commercialization, execution, and beyond—in collaboration with colleagues, customers, healthcare providers, payers, and patients. To find out more about Impetus Digital, visit our website, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or book a demo at meetwithimpetus.com