Atempo Growth
Atempo Growth
Published in
7 min readJan 18, 2023


Last year we invested in Lantum — a workforce management platform for global healthcare. Lantum’s platform supports organisations in efficiently scheduling staff with a rota solution and network of locum clinicians in one place. Currently, 1 in 2 practices across the UK are using Lantum to transform their workforce management, and the company has saved the NHS over £30 million to date.

We are thrilled to be sitting down with co-founder and CEO, Melissa to shine a spotlight on Lantum and share her advice for aspiring founders.

Share the story of Lantum, how did it come into fruition?

I used to work as a management consultant at McKinsey and Co. where I worked on several projects for the NHS, ranging from large-scale transformation projects in hospitals, to helping patients get better access to Primary Care. I became fascinated by the inner workings of the NHS, and the more fascinated I became, the more problems I saw with it. I decided to pledge my allegiance to helping improve healthcare at large but felt limited by the impact I could have as a management consultant.

Both of my parents were entrepreneurs, and while I tried resisting it a little at the start of my career, I think I must have it in my blood. I decided to start a business, and while I knew it was going to be in healthcare, I didn’t yet know how. So, I went to work for the NHS for a year and a half in the Strategy Directorate of NHS London SHA to learn more about where the biggest problems were.

I knew that if I wanted to make a big impact in healthcare, I would need to address challenges with the workforce. 60% of the spend on any healthcare system (NHS included) goes on its workforce, and you can’t deliver large scale change without addressing workforce challenges.

The more time I spent in the NHS, it was clear that there was a huge problem with temporary staffing. The NHS alone was spending around £5 billion on recruitment agencies at the time, and it seemed to me that this was a classic challenge that could be solved with a marketplace. I left my role at the NHS to start what was then called “Network Locum” — a digital marketplace where clinicians could list themselves directly and cut agencies out of the equation. After raising some seed funding, I launched it in Primary Care, we hired some people, and the business started to grow. Ultimately though, I realised that the marketplace model was not quite the the right one to solve the problem fully. If we wanted to really solve this issue, we would have to create products that solved problems for the entire workforce, not just the locums, and this involved us going further upstream.

We’ve evolved the company a lot over the last 9 years, and now operate more of a human capital management service. At its core it’s a scheduling tool, however, if organisations want to find temporary staff, they can also tap into a wider network of clinicians, so it is end-to-end.

What has been the hardest lesson learned so far?

I think the hardest lesson learned is that you can’t just take a model that works in another sector, apply it to a new industry, and expect it to work. Being a management consultant, that’s kind of what you’re taught to do — look at case studies from other industries and try to apply them to the industry you’re working in.

Marketplace models that work in other sectors, whether it’s taxi drivers or cleaners etc., won’t necessarily work in others. In healthcare, people want to work with people they know and trust, and they want continuity of care, so who you are matched with is more important vs other sectors. If you really want to solve the workforce problems in healthcare, introducing people to workers they don’t know on an ongoing basis does not provide enough value.

To find the right model, you must walk a mile in your customer’s shoes, understand the problem and be humble enough to respond, change, and adapt.

What advice would you offer other growth companies about financing their businesses?

There are a few things!

Firstly, try to raise more money than you think you need, because things often take longer than you think. People are generally too optimistic when estimating what can be done in 18 months to 2 years, so try to be more conservative and put more resources behind big initiatives to either hit or surpass your targets. Work to remove your founder optimism when it comes to figuring out how much money and time you’ll need. I’d typically recommend aiming for 24 months of funding.

Secondly, do the process properly and give yourself plenty of time to do so. Don’t go out to fundraise when you have 3 months of runway left. Don’t be driven by the timelines of one seemingly enthusiastic VC. A VC might approach you directly and tell you they’re really interested in investing, and you may spend a lot of time with that one VC, for it to never materialise. Treat fundraising as you would any other process, be that a sales or a hiring process, and make sure you have a lot of leads at the top of the funnel. Try to ensure you can get around as many people as you possibly can — sure, you only need one investor to say yes, but the more competitive pressure you can get, the better the outcome for the business overall.

Thirdly, make sure you can dedicate a decent amount of time to it. If you spread your time too thin, you’ll either run a process where materials or answers to DD questions aren’t properly prepared, or you’ll be frazzled when speaking with investors at a time when you need to be putting your best foot forward.

Make sure you have backfill and a backup plan for yourself during the fundraising. Get everything set up (e.g., OKRs launched, and delegate certain decisions) so everyone can manage the initiatives they have with minimal input from you. You’ll be managing by exception for a while. If you’re a hands-on operational leader who likes to get involved, you really need to think about how to extract yourself during the time that you’re fundraising.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be really prepared for this process. It’s all-consuming. If you’re a first-time founder or this is your first fundraising process, put aside the time to really get to grips with it.

What is Lantum’s biggest achievement so far?

Our proudest moment so far was operating during the pandemic. We set up 150 vaccination clinics around the UK, and 14 million vaccinations were given by doctors booked through Lantum. We also gave our vaccination product for free during this time.

Being able to meaningfully step in and help the country was probably the biggest privilege and honour of my career so far. We supported clinicians to mobilise themselves during the pandemic, allocating their time to where it was needed most, e.g., by redeploying them into urgent care, and setting up remote consultations so that patients could still be seen when GP clinics had been closed down.

It was chaotic but the whole team pulled together and went above and beyond. We onboarded 14,000 staff to Lantum throughout the pandemic. We were able to help efficiently mobilise them and deploy them at the right time. When things began to open up again, there was a huge backlog of patients desperate to be seen, so, with demand through the roof, we put together initiatives like making our next day payments free for clinicians to make life easier for them during such a difficult time. There was a lot to deal with, everyone worked tirelessly and sacrificed a lot — but it was our proudest moment.

I don’t think we’ll get the opportunity to really support the nation with their healthcare in that way ever again, I really feel like I can look back on that moment and say we were there, right at the centre.

Any tips for aspiring founders?

Be prepared for the ride. It’s highs and lows (for every high, there’s probably about ten lows). Understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, try to see the big picture, don’t get too bogged down in the day to day.

Celebrate your successes, and make sure you take breaks along the way. Don’t try to prove anything to anyone by trying to keep pace all the time. There are moments to run extremely fast, but there are times when you don’t need to be moving at a thousand miles an hour.

Make sure you plan in these important times not just for you, but for your team. Newsflash: If you are a founder, once you’re on that hamster wheel — you’re not getting off. You can’t just extract yourself, this is it. you can’t just quit when you feel like it. Just be prepared for that and ask yourself if that’s really something you want to do. This life is for a select few, not for everyone.

Founders’ mental health is a real issue and is something that comes up time and time again on founders groups I’m in, and there are a lot of people on this journey who end up wishing they weren’t. Personally, I feel like I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and feel this is exactly what I was supposed to be doing, but aspiring founders need to be thoughtful about what it means — financially, mentally, and physically.

Prepare yourself and try to make sure that you really do take time out to celebrate when things are successful, and look back. At the end of each year, we like to go through all of our successes of the year as a team, to stop and sit to think about what you have achieved, as we’re naturally always thinking about what we haven’t. Having that time to reflect is important.

It’s a test in mental and physical resilience more than anything else!



Atempo Growth
Atempo Growth

Fuelling innovation with flexible growth lending.