A new generation of entrepreneurs are making healthcare better, more accessible, and more enjoyable for millions of people around the world. Rachael McCrary, founder, and CEO of Gather Labs is one of them.
Healthcare disruptors have an opportunity to redefine the consumer experience. McCrary, a seasoned technology and fashion entrepreneur harnessed her passion to do that and more by creating practical products and solutions to fill the gaps in many core consumer experiences — from post-surgical recovery support to same-day lab result processing.
“Gather Labs exists to fix one of the most broken components of our healthcare system: the excessive wait times, gatekeeping, and unnecessary runaround currently associated with diagnostic labs,” McCrary told YFS Magazine.
“Our first year proved our concept and secured our position within the local and medical community. Now, by investing those returns into these new instruments and expanding our core capabilities, we can meet a much larger need and apply our same-day diagnostic protocol to the kinds of life-saving tests that are currently taking several days or weeks to process elsewhere.”
The intersection of luxe hospitality and modern diagnostics
Clinical laboratories provide a wide range of laboratory procedures which aid physicians in carrying out the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients. McCrary’s vision to unlock the true potential of modern diagnostics, and set a new standard in the healthcare system, is a testament to her bold, unwavering advocacy for herself and others, which she believes “so few people feel comfortable enough to do for themselves in this broken system.” As a result, the multi-talented entrepreneur is inspiring others to rise to that standard.
“Gather Labs is the first 100% vertically integrated, high-complexity CLIA laboratory of its kind to offer same-day lab results for over 100 diagnostics tests with white-glove service for healthcare providers and a spa-like experience for their patients.”
Gather Labs is the first 100% vertically integrated, high-complexity CLIA laboratory of its kind to offer same-day lab results for over 100 diagnostics tests with white-glove service for healthcare providers and a spa-like experience for their patients. The flagship lab is located in Beverly Hills, California.
Healthcare entrepreneurs like McCrary are redesigning their organizations for speed, accelerating productivity improvements, reshaping their portfolios, and innovating new business models. In early 2023, Gather Labs added three new diagnostic instruments (BioRad Bioplex, Abbott Architect, Sysmex XN-530), to offer three new testing services for the company’s already extensive same-day test menu and services.
The opportunity to create value and improve healthcare by transforming the delivery of care, improving clinical productivity, applying technology, and simplifying administrative procedures is what keeps healthcare entrepreneurs ahead of challenging times. For McCrary, the aim is to harness value in a way that will “radically elevate, optimize, and modernize the broken healthcare system,” she said. Gather Labs accomplishes this by “reducing the average wait time for a wide variety of lab results from two to ten days down to under 24 hours,” McCrary added.
The clinical laboratory services market, which was $213 Billion in 2022, is expected to reach $352 Billion by 2032 (CAGR of 5.3%).Market.US
Gather Labs is a female-founded diagnostics disruptor that fuses state-of-the-art technology into an extensive and personalized menu of lab services. Their gold-standard platform easily plugs into existing systems to deliver same-day, on-demand diagnostics with the highest level of care and attention.
McCrary owes much of her success to “a customer-first culture and a commitment to the total well-being, health, and happiness of its patients.” Today, Gather Labs is a trusted partner for healthcare enterprises to rapidly accelerate their current diagnostics processes.
Healthcare disruptors like McCrary seek to understand consumer pain points, address them at scale, and communicate their solutions directly to consumers, often before consumers typically seek care. It’s a winning formula.
A dynamic entrepreneurship journey has led her from fashion and technology to healthcare and diagnostics. Today, she is a trusted startup advisor, mentor, board member, and executive working closely with startup accelerators, investors, and private equity funds.
Read on to learn how Rachael McCrary built Gather Labs proving “that if you desire something, pursue it. Through dedication, hard work, and following our life’s passion, we can create a life better than the one we were born into.”
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
|Industry||Healthcare – Clinical Laboratory Services|
|Year of Establishment||2022|
|No. of Employees||6-10|
There’s an artist within every entrepreneur
I don’t feel I became an entrepreneur. I believe I’ve always been one. Entrepreneurs are simply artists who build products, services, or companies that others might consider art. Just as a painter or a singer has an idea deep within them that needs to be expressed to the world, I feel the same about companies. I view myself as an artist, and companies are my life’s work and art.
“I view myself as an artist, and companies are my life’s work and art.”
A journey from fashion and technology to healthcare and diagnostics
I’ve worked heavily in the healthcare space since the beginning of the pandemic, but before then, I had a long career in fashion and technology. I spent over two decades in product development and crossed over into the medical field when I created the RxBra, an FDA-approved post-surgical compression bra that supports and accelerates patient recovery.
Right before the pandemic, while living in Hong Kong and selling RxBra to surgeons in Asia, I received hundreds of calls from surgeons and MedTech operators about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 tests.
I thought they were asking for the wrong person, but as it turns out the surgeons were looking for the RxBra designer who’d been importing to Hong Kong for over 20 years. That was me, so I decided to get training via Zoom by the late inventor of the COVID-19 PCR test, Kary Mullis, and eventually began training doctors to administer and read the tests. I then tapped into my MedTech connections in Asia to supply PPE, COVID-19 tests, and antibody kits to medical professionals, hospitals, first responders, and local businesses in need. At the tail end of 2021, during a visit to Costa Rica I ran clinical trials, worked with the FDA, and tried to increase access to PPE and antibody kits.
However, I knew there had to be a better way to maximize my efforts and optimize the approach. Instead of trying to create a new product, which requires years of R&D and extensive marketing to get off the ground, I figured there would always be a more acute need for testing services. People needed a reliable way to get their results quickly. I had the experience and tenacity to make that happen.
We opened the doors to Gather Labs on January 2, 2022, with a line of people waiting to enter wrapped around the block. We started with COVID-19 testing and other similar seasonal viruses (such as the flu and strep throat), but I wanted to scale up and take on the entire spectrum of diagnostic testing, from STDs and UTIs to thyroid and metabolic panels that can save lives if delivered on time. I also wanted to reimagine the physical experience of getting lab work done.
“I wanted to eliminate that mundane, impersonal experience and replace it with the same type of luxe hospitality and care you’d receive at a day spa.”
We’re all too familiar with traditional diagnostics facilities that lack a sense of comfort, personality, and warmth: the typical lab or hospital setting with years-old magazines, fluorescent lights, and a person at a desk telling patients to fill out paperwork without ever looking them in the eyes. I wanted to eliminate that mundane, impersonal experience and replace it with the same type of luxe hospitality and care you’d receive at a day spa.
Mentorship can lead to partnership
I take immense pride in co-founding a company alongside my mentor. Those few years were a global whirlwind of learning — from mastering EBITDA calculations to discovering the best places in Thailand to buy bras, all while indulging in street food. Our venture took us to beaches worldwide as we sought bikini inspiration and a taste of freedom. That experience shaped my ideal lifestyle, and I’ve yearned for nothing else since.
Investing in technology and expanding capacity
As a seasoned startup founder, I must admit, starting up our lab didn’t present too many challenges. The real challenge came when we wanted to expand beyond COVID-19 testing. It was tough to grow the lab in other areas while dealing with the high volume of PCR tests. We had to juggle between providing excellent patient care and building out the new side of our lab and it took a bit longer than we had hoped.
“We had to juggle between providing excellent patient care and building out the new side of our lab and it took a bit longer than we had hoped.”
Luckily, my background in supply chain management and fashion design came in handy. It helped me understand how to scale up our resources, like consumables, components, and instruments. Thanks to that previous experience, we were able to quickly adjust our volumes and we worked hard to improve our sample progress and tracking system, as well as make our software more user-friendly.
In terms of branding, we partnered with an advertising agency to refine our messaging. It was important to make it clear that we are a clinical diagnostic laboratory, not a spa. Education about our brand became a priority for us.
Overall, expanding testing capabilities was a real challenge, but having that previous experience and the dedication of our team helped us navigate through it. We are determined to provide top-notch patient care while growing and diversifying our lab.
Remaining hyper-vigilant and focused on mitigating risk
For entrepreneurs, it’s important to approach their business and its growth with a focus on managing risks. When you analyze your metrics and projections from this perspective, you can anticipate potential issues and take proactive steps to prevent them or handle them effectively if they do come up.
Because being an entrepreneur isn’t just about creating products— that’s only a small part of the job, maybe around 10%. To truly understand how your business is doing and where it can go, you need to have a solid grasp of the numbers and how everything works behind the scenes.
The headwinds for healthcare are significant and the risks are sizeable. But the size of the opportunity and potential for visionary entrepreneurship outstrips those challenges.
While it’s a good idea to have a certified specialist handle your profit and loss statements, it’s ultimately up to you to dive in and analyze them thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask the right questions. By doing so, you’ll figure out what’s working and what’s not, and then you can plan your next steps accordingly.
Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to know every single hurdle and detour that might come your way before starting your entrepreneurial journey. Just take that first step and then keep going, one step at a time.
“Listen to your intuition and be ready to change course when needed. You won’t know which direction will lead you to success until you begin the journey.”
Listen to your intuition and be ready to change course when needed. You won’t know which direction will lead you to success until you begin the journey. Speaking from my own experience, my career has taken me from the world of fashion and design to healthcare and diagnostics. If I had tried to plan out every detail from the beginning, I would never have imagined such a massive transition. So, trust that your victories will fall into place naturally if you put in the work and follow your instincts when new opportunities arise.
Improving healthcare experiences one test at at time
The coming years will provide a test for leaders of incumbents and entrepreneurial disruptors across the healthcare industry. If history serves as a guide, companies like Gather Labs that rise to the occasion will perhaps be rewarded with sustained overperformance, creating strategic distance from their competitors, and establishing themselves as recognized leaders in improving healthcare.
From Rachael’s Desk
In the spirit of curiosity and continuous learning, we asked Rachael to share some of her personal recommendations so you can work smarter from the ground up. Here’s what she had to say.
What book would you recommend to other entrepreneurs?
One book I absolutely love is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Now, even though it focuses on business rather than healthcare, it offers some incredible insights into building a team from scratch, managing operations smoothly, and taking charge in a leadership role. These lessons are particularly important in healthcare because the energy of the facility has a direct impact on the patients.
As a leader, you need to consider your team as your first patient and a testament to the quality of care you provide. We often emphasize the importance of following a specific workflow in healthcare: first, ensuring legal and compliance adherence, then prioritizing patient care, and finally taking care of the team. However, I believe that we should also see our team as patients because healthcare facilities need to practice what they preach. How can we claim to improve the health outcomes for patients if our own employees look exhausted, worn out, and overwhelmed all the time?
“It’s not just about creating a positive work culture; it goes deeper into recognizing the humanity of everyone involved.”
At Gather Labs, we strongly believe that delivering excellent patient care in diagnostics begins with ensuring that our team receives the same level of care. We want them to feel fulfilled, purposeful, and truly believe that they are making a difference. When the energy is positive and supportive for healthcare workers, it naturally creates a more comfortable environment for the patients. It’s not just about creating a positive work culture; it goes deeper into recognizing the humanity of everyone involved.
Horowitz’s book teaches you how to prioritize what truly matters, and for me, the well-being and support of my team are the top priority.
Which apps, tools, or resources can you not live without?
- Instagram: I’m a visual enthusiast, which is why I adore Instagram; it’s my go-to for discovering new travel destinations, unique experiences, and charming boutique hotels. I also hold a soft spot for Lonely Planet.
- Telegram: For communication, Telegram stands out. Its user interface is optimal for chatting, voice conversations, file sharing, and group discussions.
- Vogue: Fashion always comes first for me. I visit vogue.com daily. It offers a classic touch combined with a hint of sophistication — it’s like my comfort food.
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