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Locumunity team photo. (Locumunity Photo)

Just as schools need substitute teachers, hospitals and medical facilities sometimes need to call in an extra doctor.

But it turns out that it’s not always easy for MDs to find those jobs, and it can be expensive for medical centers to work with recruiters to fill the positions.

Haneen Abu-Ramel, CEO of Locumunity. (Locumunity Photo)

Dr. Haneen Abu-Remaileh is one of those docs who was looking for a temporary role, known in MD parlance as a “locum” physician.

“It meant having more control over my schedule and workload,” said Abu-Remaileh, who is 33. But it didn’t go as planned.

“Instead of having flexibility in my schedule, I found myself bound by a system that required significant research to find the right job boards — let alone jobs,” she said. “Unable to find a centralized marketplace that matches physicians to job opportunities in a cost-effective way, I decided to create one myself.”

Her company is called Locumunity. Abu-Remaileh co-founded the startup with Leila Abdolall, who has expertise in recruitment, and Mubashshir Zakir, who provided software development.

Believing they could do a better job than existing sites such as LocumTenes and LocumJobsOnline, the trio launched the Vancouver, B.C.-based business in April 2017. In Canada, more than 10 percent of temporary doctors, or locums, are registered with the site. The company, which has six employees, launched its U.S. beta last month.

We caught up with Abu-Remaileh for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Locumunity is an online, centralized marketplace where job-seeking healthcare professionals and medical facilities can directly connect.”

Inspiration hit us when: “I personally saw how many barriers there are to finding the right locum position, and found that they weren’t unique to me. Efficient and cost-effective recruitment of locums is a global need and integral to delivering great healthcare.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We bootstrapped until recently. We have a great team, and as we look to expand, we are looking to partner with the right angel and VC investors.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We are passionate about our mission, and we listen. We want to build a platform that is truly useful and revolutionary for the people who use it, so it’s essential that they be a part of the creation and iteration. Mubashshir comes from a market research background and is an expert at gathering data and making data-driven decisions. Leila and I set aside time every week to talk to customers and gather qualitative data around their needs.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Expanding to the U.S. Through research, we knew that centralized locum recruitment was a need in the U.S., but we didn’t realize the full depth and scale until we were on the ground, talking to locums and medical facilities.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “In the past, we fell into the trap of waiting to launch until we felt like we had the perfect product. We’ve learned that launching a solid, core product that solves a need still gets customers excited, and allows us to iterate based on their feedback of using the actual product.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “That’s a hard choice, but it would have to be Bezos, given his recent endeavor to revolutionize healthcare by providing an alternative, affordable and accessible solution.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Our team is like a family, and we love gathering for team dinners. We have a multicultural team, so we particularly enjoy sharing food and recipes from around the world with one another. It’s a great way to let off steam, bond and get in an amazing meal!”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Passion. We all care deeply about making the healthcare recruitment process a better experience, so we want to ensure that anyone we hire shares that excitement.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help. We’ve found that many people are happy to help you achieve your goals, if you only ask.”

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the ten startups in Techstars Seattle leading up to their Demo Day on April 18. Techstars is a worldwide network that offers 40 mentorship-driven accelerator programs around the globe.

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