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Justin Bayless is CEO and Founder of Ten Figures, a culturally competent, management consulting and private equity firm supporting the development and growth of BIPOC and/or women healthcare entrepreneurs.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Bayless about entrepreneurship, the family business, and taking care of the body, mind, and souls of Phoenix, Arizona.
“I always wanted to be a businessman because my dad used to wear suits,” said Bayless.
Since renaming the business after his lineage, the son says Bayless Integrated Healthcare will honor both his late father and family’s future.
Family business is in the Bayless blood
“I tell people all the time family business is one of the most gratifying things in the world, but it’s also one of the hardest things in the world.” He expounds on his firsthand experience, “my father passed away in 2018. So he didn’t see a lot of this growth materialized.”
Bayless continued, “But one of the hardest things was to balance the relationship between him being 35 years older than me, with a Ph.D, and the original founder. For me, his son with a different vision, there were a lot of difficult conversations that happened.”
“My father always had a vision of building a Mayo Clinic-like model for mental health. I wanted to have mental health services available to every American, and specifically communities that don’t have access in the most effective and efficient way possible.”
He furthered, “I changed entire business model to focus on mind and body. So we brought in primary care and we also started doing telemedicine in 2009.”
Bayless is also the Founder and President of the Journey Venture Studio.
A Phoenix-based 501c3 not-for-profit entity, Journey Venture Studio creates and launches healthcare companies to be led by underrepresented founders.
He is currently transforming the original Bayless Healthcare clinic in Midtown Phoenix into a new 10,000 sq. ft. hub for diverse founders who want to build healthcare businesses.
This building will soon house The Journey Venture Studio and Ten Figures. It is expected to be completed by November 1, 2023.
“I went to school at Morehouse and graduated early, then I worked on Wall Street for Morgan Stanley’s investment banking with Carla Harris, the only Black woman ever to be vice chairman of a Wall Street bank,” said Bayless.
“I resigned in March 2008, and came back home to Phoenix to took over the business in about two years. Fast forward to 650 employees, the rest has been history,” said Bayless.
A father of three married to a Master’s level nurse, Bayless says care is a family business. He continued, “There’s no better outcome than to see patients improve, your staff develop, and employees take care of their own families and manage their own health.”
Justin Bayless scaled his family business to a nine-figure valuation in 2020
He scaled Bayless Integrated Healthcare into a nine-figure valuation and exited the business to a top 25 Fortune 500 company in 2020.
“COVID-19 brought the stigma way down,” says Bayless. “The country still undervalues children’s mental health significantly. That’s the construct that publicly traded health companies rarely called insurers don’t see a return on their investment. If every 90 days you have to report earnings to your shareholders.”
“It’s really difficult for a publicly traded held company to want to invest in children’s mental health because the return on that is not going to be manifested within a 90 day snapshot,” Bayless explained.
While already implementing strategies like telemedicine a decade before the global pandemic, Bayless says, “2020 was probably the most gratifying year for me professionally because we didn’t lay any employee off.”
“It saddens me and sickens me when we think of Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerburg. But when we think of entrepreneurs in our community, we typically think of athletes and entertainment who became entrepreneurs through their talents. Meanwhile, the odds of being a successful entrepreneur far outweigh the odds of being a professional athlete or entertainer.”
He furthered, “Only 2% of all venture capital dollars go to Black and Brown founders. I’m hopeful that my story and others like me who are not doing this in the entertainment field take note of this and start to realize we need to make a change.”
“The higher you go in health care, in leadership and in positions of power, the less diverse it gets, and you certainly see less of us,” affirmed Bayless.
Two pieces of advice for entrepreneurs from Justin Bayless
- But I don’t have the money. “It’s so hard for us as a community to take the big risk necessary to get to scale because most of us don’t come from wealth and we’re afraid of losing what we’ve earned. Because so many other people have sacrificed before you it’s really hard to take a big risk because if you fail, they feel like you failed the previous generation, and we might be taking care of somebody. People get caught up in their own mental ‘head trash’ quite a bit, afraid to do the big risk because of what might happen. But it might just work.”
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. “A lot of people don’t want to let go. I like to say, ‘the fastest route to wealth is delegation and elevation’ but it also took me years to do that.” He continued “Initially, I wanted to hold on to everything because it’s my baby that I created. You just can’t do that if you want to get to scale. So to figure out how to become a better leader, we have to figure out how to put systems in place to hold people accountable.”
Keep up with Justin Bayless at his website.
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