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A Day in The Life

Nathan Aycock, Operations Director

La Jolla, California

6:00 a.m. (PST)

With the dim sunlight just cresting over the top of Mount Soledad in La Jolla, California, my day begins with the first alarm at 6:00 am. Immediately, I hit the “Snooze” button. The second ring that goes off just five minutes later is from my wife’s phone, and I’m up. Flavia won’t be awake for at least another hour, but it’s my cue to get the day rolling.

Still lying in bed, I begin to check my messages to see if there is anything urgent that would require a quick jolt out of bed straight into a phone call. Most of my team is either in Europe or on the East Coast of the United States, so there isn’t much time to leisurely putter around in the morning.

6:07 a.m.

Brewing a perfect pour-over coffee is my morning meditation, setting the tone for the day ahead. My first few steps out of bed are toward the kitchen counter, pouring fresh water into my electric water kettle and setting the temperature to 204 degrees Fahrenheit.

6:22 a.m.

I’m showered and dressed, and back in the kitchen measuring 18 grams of ground coffee into my ceramic coffee brewer, then patiently mixing it with 350 grams of water. I watch as the coffee grounds reshape with every swirl, becoming a texture that’s reminiscent of the pluff mud native to South Carolina Lowcountry where I grew up.  

6:30 a.m.

I’m settled into my home office, ready to dive into the day’s tasks. A quick scan of the headlines from the Wall Street Journal keeps me up to speed on world events while I enjoy my morning brew.

Clearing out my inbox is the first order of business. With a cup of coffee in hand, I’m deleting everything that isn’t important, flagging those I’ll respond to, and driving towards “inbox zero.” Then I open our internal messaging app, Slack, and start browsing through the channels. 

6:50 a.m.

By now my mild OCD is starting to kick in, and I’m beginning to lock into execution mode. I’m starting to feel the buzz from my coffee and I’m feeling motivated to start in on my checklist. I peek over my monitors and look out to the living room and notice I didn’t fully tidy up from the previous night. My inner “Marie Kondo” is calling out, chiding me to organize before I can begin to think about productivity. 

7:00 a.m.

By 7:00 a.m., I’m back in my seat feeling accomplished, ready to dive into the day’s tasks.

As the Operations Director for Red Cell’s Healthcare Practice, I’m responsible for coordinating the various activities within our incubation process for all the healthcare startups. Today, my priority is to prepare for our investment committee (IC) meeting at 12:30 PM which occurs every six weeks. I pull up the deck and start running through the slides to make sure nothing has been missed. 

7:30 a.m.

Most of my mornings are filled with meetings and calls. The first one of the day is with Dan, an Entrepreneur in Residence who’s getting ready to pitch his business plan to the IC. We spend the next hour going through the deck slide by slide, refining his messaging, and making last-minute tweaks to the visuals. We’re both feeling at ease, because this isn’t his first pitch. Over the last several weeks, we’ve continually adjusted and refined the strategy, injecting feedback from leadership and adding depth to the plan. We finish the call confident this pitch will be a winner.  

8:30 a.m.

A calendar notification alerts me that our daily Standup meeting has just started. I open Zoom and see that about 15 other colleagues from across the platform have already joined the call. I notice that I’m the first person from the Operations team to join, so I kick off the meeting. Everyone quickly rattles off their priorities, then I wish everyone a wonderful day and end the call. 

8:45 a.m.

I’m ready for my first meal of the day – eggs, toast, and avocado. Eating at  my desk, I’m back to looking at my calendar and priority checklist. 

9:00 a.m.

I’m already on another call, this time with Joe, the CEO of a new company called Trase, a single platform that manages enterprise AI tools for health companies, which Red Cell co-founded last October. We’re discussing the scope of work for a contract for their first potential customer – a large health plan based in California. We make final edits to the list of features that will be included in the pilot, review the pricing model that my colleague Nicole, Red Cell’s Director of Finance, and I finished the previous night, and then save a PDF once it’s ready to ship. 

9:30 a.m.

I’ve jumped back into the deck for the investment committee meeting and start receiving inbound messages about last-minute changes. Nothing to be alarmed by.

10:15 a.m.

I then turn my attention to a message from my colleague, Sophie. She has sent me a link to a Figma board with an outline of a new project she’s been working on  to recruit entrepreneurs for emerging healthcare categories at Red Cell. We hop onto an impromptu Slack Huddle to chat through the details of what will ultimately become Red Cell Go

11:00 a.m.

Time for my second breakfast; this time it’s a smoothie packed with fruits, veggies, and a few extra “health powders” for a boost. 

11:30 a.m.

I reach out to Naimish, the President of the Healthcare Practice, to review the agenda for the upcoming IC meeting. We go through the deck and hide the slides that aren’t relevant for today’s call. 

12:30 p.m.

It’s go-time! I kick off the IC meeting by reviewing the agenda and relevant updates. Each of the incubation team leads gives an update and is peppered with questions from the Investment Committee members. It’s a friendly environment, but questions are direct. Everyone on the call is invested in the success of our incubations, so the discussion takes a supportive tone with IC members and fund leadership who offer ideas to support the entrepreneurs as they  pursue their milestones. 

It’s time for the main event and Dan takes the floor to present his pitch deck. Today, he’s asking the IC to invest $1M to officially move “Project Bandon” into the Startup Phase of our Incubation Process. If he achieves Startup status, he has roughly 3 months to develop an operating plan that, among other things, outlines product requirements, begins to achieve some customer traction, and presents key hires that will help bring the business to the next phase of development. Thirty minutes later, he concludes, and the audience shrinks down to IC members only who will discuss the presentation and reach a conclusion. 

2:00 p.m.

Time to take a breather. I step into my wife’s office and ask if she wants to take a walk to the beach. We hop down to Windansea beach and spend a few minutes watching the surfers and taking in the ocean breeze. It’s been a hectic morning, and the ocean offers a perfect reset. 

2:30 p.m.

By this time, things have quieted down a bit on the East Coast, so I settle in for a few hours of undistracted work. I put on some electronic music and easily get into a flow state on the next project at the top of my list. 

5:00 p.m.

As the workday winds down, I trade my desk for the great outdoors. Whether it’s hitting the gym or catching some waves, I make time for activities that feed my soul. Living near the beach in La Jolla has its perks, and I try to take advantage of them whenever I can. 

9:30 p.m.

After a home-cooked meal, my day comes to a close. I open my phone to set my alarm for tomorrow morning. I read a message from Dave Silverman, Red Cell’s COO that says, “Project Bandon is Approved!” 

I”m relieved, but unsurprised. My role often feels like that of a coxswain on a crew team, keeping the tempo steady as I gently nudge the team to make small adjustments and keep the discipline, knowing full well they are the ones with oars in their hands. 

I read a few pages of a book before drifting off to sleep, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

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