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When Zoe Barry was a kid, she had two things she wanted to be when she grew up, either a veterinarian or “someone who writes checks.” She gave the first a shot and ended up settling on the second. Today she is CEO of ZappRx and a shining example of how drive and intellect can overcome adversity.
Zoe had a bit of a rough start in life, after a difficult divorce left she and her family surviving on food stamps and struggling to get by. But she had a mother who survived and ultimately thrived while holding the family together, and it was this role model who taught Zoe the importance of risk-taking, how to squeeze a dollar out of a nickel, and led to her mild obsession with check books.
Zoe’s original career hypothesis was that she should be a veterinarian. She even had a stint in Alaska helping to rehabilitate bald eagles and other birds of prey, but ultimately couldn’t see herself in a role that created such fear among the animals, as she observed in the field. She did stints on Wall Street both before and after Alaska, but found hedge fund executives even scarier than wild animals. Zoe’s stint as a babysitter for Jonathan Bush’s kids led her to a new field, human healthcare, where she learned the basics at Athena Health and rapidly identified a problem worth founding a company to solve: ensuring people with serious medical challenges got ready access to the specialty drugs they desperately need. Thus ZappRx was born.
Along the way Zoe has experienced the hard lessons that female executives often face on the fundraising trail and consistently observed that male CEOs got better deals than female ones. To cope, she developed a two-fold strategy to beat the usual suspects at their own game. The first step was becoming an active angel investor targeting opportunities in emerging women-led startups. The second was triggered by the emerging trend of VCs taking their portfolio CEOs race car driving. Zoe threw herself into mastering the sport, becoming an expert Mazda Global Cup race car driver who can drive run circles around the amateurs. With a clear double-meaning, Zoe says, “As a CEO, you have to throw yourself into the fast lane and never look back.” Zoe is now mentoring other women race car drivers and aspiring entrepreneurs through her ZappRx founders’ associate program.
We are revved up to feature Zoe on Tech Tonics.
And a special note: after we taped this episode, Zoe completed the sale of ZappRx to Allscripts.
We are grateful to GE Ventures for their sponsorship today. GE Ventures – Multiple Paths to Big Impact.
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