I had the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Rapp, CEO of Surgical Solutions, Managing Partner of AJR Ventures, and Lecturer-in-Management, mom to Audrey & Henriette, wife to Hal Morris. After less than six months as an executive in healthcare, Alyssa was named one of Crain’s Chicago “Top 25 Notable Women in Health Care” (see it here)
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was a childhood athlete (gymnast first- 3 hours/day, 6x/week, from 7–17 years of age), then a serious contemporary dancer (30–40 hours /week 17–21), who channeled her love of athletics and the arts into the sport of politics post-college by serving as Congresswoman Jan Schakowksy’s national finance director. (My claim to fame there was creating the Ultimate Women’s Power Lunch, now in its 15th year, and one that has been adopted by numerous organizations and candidates in the Democratic Party).
After 2.5 years in politics, I realized I’d love to go back as the candidate some day- but in the interim, I wanted to make a run at life as an entrepreneur. So off to Stanford Business School I sent, where I met my now-husband, Hal Morris (see bio below). While at the GSB, I started an e-commerce company called Bottlenotes, striving to be the “Netflix for wine.” We enjoyed great early traction when a regulatory shift by the California Alcohol Bureau of Control about “Third-Party Marketing Firms” like ours (temporarily) rendered our business model obsolete.
Forced to put up the white flag or pivot, I chose to pivot- and we turned into the leading digital media company for wine, and later, multiple beverage categories, through digital newsletters and large-scale interactive events.
Bottlenotes eventually landed with PEAK6 Investments of Chicago. Post-Bottlenotes, I chose to take a couple of years to teach at Stanford Business School and start AJR Ventures, which has served as an advisor to two family offices and two private equity firms in Chicago and the Bay Area. What comes next: time will tell! 🙂
AJR Ventures is a strategic advisory firm for Fortune 500, $100MM+ privately-held companies, and private equity firms on their e-commerce, digital media, social media, and entrepreneurial strategies. I help big companies launch new products, expand their digital footprint, and drive revenue and gross margin via e-commerce and omni-channel channels.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
As CEO of Surgical Solutions, there are three strategies I’m employing that are disruptive. First, we are working to expand our outsourced services offering that supports hospitals on a fixed fee/procedure basis (with human capital, capital equipment and disposables inventory) from 34 sites to 100….asap.
In a world where minimally-invasive surgery volumes continue to rise due to an array of demographic trends and industry dynamics, all while the economic conditions for hospitals continue to worsen (eroding margins, increasingly tight cash flows), our outsourced solution that drives efficiency and throughput on a variable-cost basis. This solution provides economic relief to many of these providers while helping to improve patient outcomes.
Second, I’m working with other key executives to transform the company from “analog” to technologically-enabled, and potentially even as a a leader in technological innovation in the category through our Surgical Cost Management Platform.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
Former US Ambassador to the Netherlands, Fay Hartog Levin (aka: my mother)
Marissa Mayer, whom I feel very fortunate to also count as a dear friend
Tracy Wan, former President of The Sharper Image and of Cycle Gear, colleague, advisor, and also a dear friend
How are you going to shake things up next?
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Last week: “Everyone takes the stairs to success,” from Alex Toussaint, my favorite Peloton coach.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
Dagny Taggart, Atlas Shrugged. I’d love to be Dagny in my professional life and level of integrity – and somehow balance these ideals with a compassionate heart for social justice.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Arianna Huffington. For her zionism on sleep, being ok wearing our best clothes more than once, even if previously captured in a photograph, et al.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Originally published at medium.com