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Finance calendar    Jul 26, 2023

Electrifying Growth Episode 13: From Small Beginnings to Great Success with Amanda Eisel

In the latest episode of our Electrifying Growth podcast, Managing Partner and host Chris Sudgen engages in a fireside chat with Amanda Eisel, the tenacious CEO of Zelis.


CEO of Zelis Amanda Eisel's track record of transforming companies and generating impressive growth as a leader in the healthcare payments industry offers invaluable insights for founders and executives alike. This conversation, with host and Managing Partner Chris Sugden, was held at our 2023 Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee and highlights the strategies and mindset necessary to propel founder-run businesses to new heights.

  1. Embrace the Magic of Founders.

Amanda firmly believes in the magic that accompanies founders and their exceptional ability to build successful companies. Founder-run businesses are unique in that they revolve around the strengths and skills of the visionary entrepreneur, with other team members complementing and amplifying those strengths. Understanding and harnessing this collective power is fundamental to unleashing growth in such organizations.

  1. Collaboration Is Key.

Founders' ability to read a room and understand the dynamics within their companies is an invaluable skill. However, they can greatly benefit from effective collaboration and representation of their interests by individuals like Eisel. As a trusted advisor and representative of not only the board but also the founders who may not be directly involved, Amanda serves as a bridge, advocating for the vision and culture that underpin founder-run businesses.

  1. Acknowledge Differences and Work Together.

One of the challenges in founder-run businesses lies in reconciling the unique contributions of founders with the evolving needs of scaling organizations. Rather than attempting to remove founders from their companies, Amanda suggests acknowledging their distinct roles and finding ways to align and work together. By understanding and appreciating the existing puzzle pieces, a harmonious balance can be struck, fostering growth and nurturing the core essence of the business.

  1. Seek Support from Diverse Networks.

Amanda emphasizes the value of seeking support and guidance from various sources. CEOs often require a safe space to discuss challenges and receive advice from trusted individuals who can provide different perspectives. Amanda leans on her CEO coach and a network of women from prestigious institutions, such as HBS, McKinsey, and Bain, which offers her invaluable advice and support, especially as a working mother with three children. Cultivating these networks can be instrumental in navigating the complex landscape of leadership.

  1. Capitalize on Small Beginnings.

The incredible success stories of Zelis epitomize the potential for immense growth starting from humble origins. Zelis began as a small cost management company in Bedminster, New Jersey before burgeoning into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Likewise, Zelis attracted Bain's investment based on its promising trajectory. These examples underscore the significance of recognizing the potential in early-stage ventures and nurturing them into industry disruptors.

The conversation offers a glimpse into the world of founder-run businesses and the tremendous growth they can achieve with the right strategies and leadership. By embracing the strengths of founders, collaborating effectively, acknowledging differences, seeking support, and capitalizing on small beginnings, these businesses can unleash their full potential. As the podcast demonstrates, an electrifying journey awaits those who dare to dream and execute with passion and purpose.

Chris is Managing Partner and Chairman of the firm's investment committee. He has been on both sides of the table as a successful entrepreneur. His experience includes leading sales, product, finance, business strategy and capital formation.