Get to Know Founder and CEO of Kaizen Health, Mindi Knebel

In 2018...U.S. female founders raised $2.88 billion last year split across 482 teams, according to data from PitchBook and All Raise, the organization supporting women in venture capital and startups. That’s 2.2% of the $130 billion total in venture capital money invested over the year” (Hinchliffe).

Founder and CEO of Kaizen Health, Mindi S. Knebel sat down and talked to us about her efforts in promoting and maintaining a diverse workforce within her organization. Mindi also spoke on being a woman founder of an organization and the difficulties they may face, emphasizing the importance of implementing diversity in the workplace and owning it. 

Check out Mindi Knebel’s Interview below:

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Tell us about your role at Kaizen Health? What do you love about the company?

I love that I get to work with a great team that is not only building a great company, but also a company that is doing good in the world. We work each and every day to ensure that the patients that we serve have access to healthcare and that transportation is not a barrier to them, regardless of physical or financial limitations. 

What about the Kaizen Health do you feel is great? 

We have a fairly diverse team that come from a variety of ethic and racial backgrounds, religious and cultural affiliations, educational and career trajectories and physical abilities. Because of each person’s background, they are able to bring unique perspectives to solving problems and coming up with new ideas. One of our colleagues happens to be wheelchair bound and is able to speak very directly to the challenges around mobility that he faces, which is very similar to many of the patients that we serve every day.

Everyone seems to have a different definition of diversity, equity and inclusion. What's yours? 

Diversity, equity and inclusion means to me that you are making an effort to build a team from diverse backgrounds and abilities and to give them the tools to be successful in their role today, to grow them into their next role in the company and to set them up for success as they move on to their next company. 

I also believe that it is not enough just to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, but it needs to be acted upon. It needs to show up in your hiring practices, vendor selection and client interactions. 

I see you have an extensive background. What motivated you to find Kaizen Health?

My family was adversely affected by the effects of the brokenness of medical transportation and those situations were the inspiration for starting Kaizen Health. I have also spent the vast majority of my career working in startups. Previous to founding Kaizen Health, I worked at MATTER, healthcare technology incubator located in the Merchandise Mart

Between the family experiences and great innovative work being conducted at MATTER, it was the perfect storm to decide to solve this massive problem. 

Being a woman in power, what challenges have you faced so far in your role?

Starting a company is hard, regardless of who you are. I know that there are a lot of stats out there that say that the Midwest has less capital available than the coasts and solo women founders get access to less capital than others. While I acknowledge those stats, I won’t ever use those as an excuse or let them get in the way of the success of Kaizen Health any more than using the fact that I am short as an excuse. 

I feel that it is important to build a team that can fill in the gaps that you have as a founder and I know that I have a lot of them. I have been lucky to meet great folks along the Kaizen Health journey who have agreed to jump on board and agreed to join this crazy ride with me that not only are stronger than me in areas that I am not strong, but that challenge me and make me better every day.

Outside of work, what do you do for fun?

Loving what you do makes it challenging at times to step away from the business give time to the things that you used to do before starting the business. That is actually one of my biggest challenges at the moment - taking time to take care of myself as Mindi the person. I love spending time with family and friends. I enjoy being active - yoga and running. And I am also a big sports fan - with the Packers, Iowa Hawkeyes and the Chicago Cubs, Hawks and Bulls being my favorite teams.  

What are some major goals for the company?

We are building Kaizen Health to not just focus on medical transportation, but to be a full healthcare logistics company solving logistics challenges around the social determinants of health. We plan to work across food insecurity, social isolation and housing initiatives to solve logistics. We have only just scratched the surface of what this company will become.


Johnny Beckworth