Series Sponsor: Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab

This case study series was made possible by the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab. Their in-house startup accelerator promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs. Apply to join their next accelerator cohort, open through September 16, 2021.

MedHaul founder and CEO Erica Plybeah launched her company in 2017 as a two-sided platform to connect vulnerable patients to transportation and a way for medical providers to gain better access to the communities they serve. In 2020, Plybeah participated in Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab and learned valuable lessons on making the shift from founder to CEO--a distinction that helped the company close a funding round and grow its venture backing to $1.6 million.

Her five-person, Memphis, Tennessee-based team is tracking for further success with greater efficiency. The company’s services focus on low-income and rural patients and match them to reliable transportation to medical providers. Plybeah’s concern for a community has grown into a multi-million opportunity.

MS: How did you learn about the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab?

Erica: I heard about the Lab through various Google searches in 2018 and through founders from Google Black Founders Exchange.

MS: What compelled you to apply to the program?

Erica: Healthcare is a very conservative industry so we wanted to find a partner who would understand our startup journey and a conservative space. We also wanted a partner where customers would see them and it would immediately provide us some credibility.

MS: How did your experience in the program help you in your business?

Erica: This was the first program where I was treated like the CEO of a company. I say this was the first time because Carla Harris is very intentional about helping founders understand the shift from founder to CEO. Another thing I liked about this program was they don’t waste your time. It was very curated based on the needs of my company.

MS: What surprised you about the Lab?

Erica: What surprised me most was how involved Carla is in the program. We see a lot of corporations launch innovative programs and you may see leadership on the first and last day of the program but that wasn’t the case with Morgan Stanley. I was also surprised by how serious they were about making sure this was the best use of our time, they get how time-intensive it is to run a company.

MS: What were some of the most important takeaways from your experience in the MCIL?

Erica: Shifting my mindset from founder to CEO was important. I learned how to delegate my time better after leaving the program and become more confident. I was kind of confident before but especially working with Carla, she’s very serious about helping you see your potential. I became more confident at seeing myself as a leader.

MS: What have been your greatest accomplishments or milestones reached during or since the program?

Erica: We ended the program in October 2020 and I closed my first round of institutional funding in November 2020 and Morgan Stanley was very instrumental in that. I also gained an angel investor who saw us at the MCIL Demo Day and they have been one of my most value-add investors.

MS: What advice would you give to women and multicultural entrepreneurs starting out on their journey?

Erica: Slow down and take care of yourself. As founders, we’ll get a lot of advice to speed up or go faster and that isn’t necessarily the best advice. Slow down to enjoy the journey and really understand what you’re building. Also, realize you’ll get a lot of advice, so take some of it and leave some of it and be okay with that.

Series Sponsor: Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab

This case study series was made possible by the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab. Their in-house startup accelerator promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs. Apply to join their next accelerator cohort, open through September 16, 2021.