Addressing the Future of Infectious Disease Management and Preventative Health by Reimagining the Employee-Employer Relationship

I still remember the day that I was talking to my parents and sister who live in India and Singapore and thinking to myself “It is only a matter of time until the virus shows up in the U.S. and we will be caught unprepared.” Unprepared because, unlike the countries my family lives in, the U.S. isn’t able to put in place the same level or type of restrictions, mandates, curfews, or health and safety requirements that they can enforce in Asia and in Europe. So I prepared for war.

When my co-founders Jikku Venkat, Jason Story, and I started ReturnSafe in June, our vision was to reinvent the employer/employee relationship by creating the best infectious disease management and wellness solution for the workplace. And because our country — and our world —  was faced with one of the most devastating viruses in nearly 100 years, we knew that our first responsibility would be to put on our combat gear and develop a solution that could slow the spread of the Coronavirus and build the best app to prevent the infectious disease from spreading at the workplace. We each felt a deep responsibility to help with the inevitable recovery a disease like this would require. Business continuity was being disrupted and bound to have a lasting impact on the economy and the people that power it. We resolved to build a tool for organizations to manage COVID and its consequences. A solution that would prevent one positive case from upending everyday life by becoming hundreds.

Here is where our journey, and the journey of ReturnSafe, began. We examined historical data, looked at what other countries deployed to successfully slow the spread of COVID, and recognized that the only way that businesses were going to be successful in keeping their communities healthy and safe was to create a way to screen, test, trace and manage COVID – a four-pillared approach that was effective in stemming the spread of viruses like MERS, SARS, and many others. 

Combining our expertise in technology, design, and healthcare, and tapping the decades of experience from teammates like our chief medical officer Dr. Reef Gillum, we built something in six short months, which has taken most companies years to accomplish.

We Are Family
We are extremely proud of and humbled by what we have accomplished. To date, more than 50 companies from every sector and industry, including long-term care, manufacturing, sports and entertainment, financial services, travel, education, and non-profit organizations have selected ReturnSafe as a partner in their plans to reopen their doors. Our relationship with our customers is intimate and collaborative. We have open and honest conversations that inform our product evolution. Every day, we learn something new from our customers and what we learn from one customer helps us better serve the market overall and together, benefits everyone using the platform. At ReturnSafe, we truly think of our customers like family and are thankful for the trust they put in us to enhance the health and safety of their teams. 

Today, as we share the news of a new funding round led by Fifty Years and Active Capital with additional funding from Necessary Ventures, in a year that many of us would prefer to skip, there is still so much to be thankful for. Our investors have been instrumental to our growth and their belief in our vision gets us excited to think even bigger. Speaking with one such investor recently, Fifty Years founder Seth Bannon talked about the intersection of purpose and profit. He believes that together we are building a new type of company. We are creating a new generation of purpose-driven businesses that reinvest profits to drive greater impact.

Reimagining Employee Health
More than 20 years ago, Pixar was an unknown studio launching their first animated movie, “Toy Story”. They then released “A Bug’s Life”, “Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles” and many, many more, demonstrating that animated movies can be just as entertaining, emotionally moving, and successful as live-action films. 

I believe that this is our Pixar moment. Employee Health has a path to success, and more broadly, will reimagine the relationship between an employer and their employees. With the new funding, we will expand our products to support the evolution of what is going to be needed with COVID, particularly vaccine management. With hope on the horizon and not just one but three COVID vaccines, employers will be faced with a web of ever-changing government regulations and guidelines and will need a way to help manage workplace immunity. More importantly, this funding enables us to go deeper into infectious disease management and preventative health and wellness, COVID being the immediate need, and develop even more impactful solutions for the workplace of the future.  We are not fighting a single battle with COVID but rather preparing for a war that will influence the healthcare system for generations to come. 

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that 2020 will be a year to remember, from one of the most debated presidential elections in the history of our country to the global devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. While no one could have predicted the human toll and mass destruction the pandemic has had on families and businesses, there have been bright spots of human kindness, compassion, and sympathy. We have all found new ways to communicate and connect with loved ones and we hope that the coming year will bring opportunities to celebrate milestones we have missed and carry forth the sentiment of what has become 2020’s motto for many, “In This Together.”