Updated: May 26
This Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, MedTrans Go CEO and Co-Founder Dana Weeks shared her experiences as a female AAPI entrepreneur in tech, what it means to build a diverse team, and what she would like to see next for AAPI entrepreneurs. Here are her thoughts:
Dana, what does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?
I love seeing our community coming together to celebrate our many contributions and beautiful cultures. While I always deliberately celebrate my own heritage and that of others in the Asian diaspora, this is a really wonderful time to be intentional about learning more, celebrating more, and supporting Asian American leaders and businesses.
What is the state of AAPI entrepreneurship in the South?
There has been a huge shift in demographics of multiple different AAPI communities here in Georgia, and this incredible growth over the last ten years is well aligned with the growth in technology and entrepreneurship in the region. Last year, I participated in the TiE ACCESS program here in Atlanta, and it was phenomenal being involved with a predominantly Asian American organization that provided support in every way - from resources to networks to community - which was really incredible as we were closing the last round of funding and was instrumental to the success of what we’re doing at MedTrans Go.
The most powerful part of that experience was being able to travel to India to represent TiE Atlanta at the TiE Women's Global Pitch Competition and being amongst female entrepreneurs from around the world that were predominantly Asian. I was so proud, inspired, and grateful to see this collection of excellence amongst women entrepreneurs who are changing our communities, sharing unique perspectives on issues that are important to everybody, and bringing attention to issues that affect our communities.
What challenges do you experience as a female Asian American entrepreneur?
We have a number of incredible Asian American founders and leaders, but us AAPI women are often absent from conversations regarding entrepreneurship, specifically in tech. Being Vietnamese, I come from a culture of entrepreneurship that’s so present. And I feel it in myself as a part of my DNA, and I see it amongst others from Vietnam. But especially in technology, we just don’t see as many Asian American female leaders and role models.
It’s always been important to me to look up and seek mentors. I’ve had many, including really incredible female mentors from spaces like the ADN’s ABLE program. To see and experience other AAPI women leaders is empowering, but as someone who doesn’t present first as Asian American, it’s also harder for me to turn around and be that leader for younger Asian American entrepreneurs and business-minded women.
What support would you like to see for female Asian American entrepreneurs in the South?
We need more networks for Asian American women in tech. In some senses, Asian Americans in tech aren’t as underrepresented as other minority groups like we see with Black and Latino communities, but when you look at AAPI female entrepreneurs in this space, especially those in the South, the access and connections into those tech networks aren’t as visible. We need more connections, more visibility, and more resources.
How do you approach diversity within your team and with the businesses you work with as an Asian American entrepreneur?
The data shows us diverse teams are more productive on both an ROI and collaborative level. When everyone has the same thoughts and voices, you likely will not produce all that you could, and that’s inherently important to me as I know diversity has led to success in our business. I’m super proud that we work with an off-shore team in India that is 100% Asian. On our team here in Atlanta, we also have so much representation of various communities within the Asiatic diaspora. Because we have a highly diverse team, people feel comfortable sharing different perspectives and asking questions as needed.
With intention, we also look to work with vendors of all backgrounds. There are a number of amazing companies built by Asian American entrepreneurs that are sometimes overlooked, and it’s wonderful to be in a position to bring attention to their organizations. In addition, because we work in healthcare and provide care to all different types of communities, we want to make sure our vendors are also representing the people we serve.
Are there any health disparities in the AAPI community you have noticed? How do you envision MedTrans Go helping reduce these disparities?
Because of the way our communities often shared homes with older adults, as multigenerational homes are an instrumental part of the fabric of our communities, COVID really impacted decisions and access to care and resources. In the South when restrictions were lifted, a lot of folks couldn’t safely reenter the public sphere because they had vulnerable family members at home. That, tied with the increase in hate and violence towards AAPI folks, led to additional challenges and trust in accessing the right healthcare.
In addition, when immigrant populations have barriers in language, knowledge, and comfort around seeking care, they often are not afforded the same access to treatment. The Asian American community has the highest rate of Limited English Proficiency in the US (34%), which has a huge impact on the ability to access healthcare. I’m proud that we here at MedTrans Go have built a solution that centers these communities as we work to eliminate some of these barriers to care.
And as we close out, do you have any final advice for fellow Asian American women in business in their early or mid-career?
It’s not often you hear voices of Asian American women, especially in business, so don’t be afraid to be that voice! Not only should you be part of the conversation but also seek and accept the support from other Asian American female entrepreneurs and uplift their voices when you can.
Thank you, Dana, for your insight on your experiences with AAPI entrepreneurship!
MedTrans Go connects healthcare providers to care coordination service providers to optimize healthcare appointments and dissolve the root causes of patient cancellations which cost the US healthcare industry over $150 billion a year. With MedTrans Go, healthcare providers can request and track services provided by safe, reliable, and vetted medical transportation, interpretation, home health care, and delivery providers in one easy-to-use digital platform.