Philip Butler is an innovative business leader and technology entrepreneur based in Boston, Massachusetts. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from MIT, and a MD from Yale University School of Medicine.
As the CEO and founder of Veya, a data-driven technology company, Butler has helped develop a revolutionary algorithmic process to help people find the products they need from across the globe, faster and more affordable than ever before.
Veya is pioneering algorithmic strategies to determine consumer demand on retail platforms like Amazon, and optimize product availability. In eight years, Veya has grown its technology and operations team to include over 250 people worldwide and, along with a talented management team, Butler has helped the company reach annual revenue of 60 million dollars.
When searching for a hard to find textbook during medical school, Philip was inspired to find consumer-focused solutions through the use of technology. Before starting Veya, he gained substantive experience as a Postbaccalaureate Fellow at the National Institutes of Health – Child Psychiatry Branch.
Philip worked at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, St. Raphael’s Campus as an intern where he worked in the surgical, internal medicine, and pediatric departments. He also worked at the diagnostic and interventional radiology departments at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the top medical centers in Boston, Massachusetts.
Philip Butler has gained vast experience and developed unique skills in a variety of challenging academic and work environments. He has sought a diverse range of impactful personal and professional experiences that have helped foster a spirit of teamwork, dedication, and principled leadership.
Philip Butler currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife and two children and looks forward to the next successful stop on his professional journey.
We were able to arrange an exclusive interview with Philip to learn a little more about his professional journey. An excerpt from this interview can be found below.
How did you get started?
When I was a student in medical school there was a textbook that our local medical bookstore had run out of. I couldn’t find it anywhere so I called the author, faxed him an order form – that was back when people still used fax machines — and mailed him a check for two books (one for me and one for my wife).
My wife didn’t want the textbook we received, so I went to sell the book on Amazon and saw that it was available there, but at almost three times what I paid from an overseas seller.
I listed it, sold it and started ordering more copies from the author. After I had ordered about 100 books he let me know that if I was a bookstore, I could get a 55% discount. I set up a small website that only sold his book and operated that online business for a bit.
I had some extra time before I started residency, so I started thinking that if I found this book accidentally, there must be more books that had poor availability online. I hired some people in the Philippines to fill out spreadsheets based on search terms, hired someone part time to contact publishers, and set up a small online bookstore that specialized in ‘tough to find’ books.
I put that on autopilot during residency and in approximately two years we grew to a selection of thousands of books, generating over $5 million in revenue with solid profit margins. I saw that this was a bizarrely good opportunity and what felt like me to be a unique chance to build a large, durable company.
I decided to leave my residency spot to try to build this company, with pretty much everyone I know strongly opposed to the decision. We took a scalable, data-driven attitude from the beginning. We brought on a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and focused on characterizing as much information as we could on online retail transactions. That led us to expand quickly into non-book items as well as into international markets.
Our goal was always the same: to use data to identify where customers weren’t getting what they wanted at a fair price and then to use tightly operationalized steps to bring those products to those customers.
Today, Veya is a data-driven tech company that searches for supply gaps for customer products online and works to provide global access to products consumers want and need. We have a global footprint, employ hundreds of employees and generate over $60M in annual revenue.
How did you get your first client/customer?
We sell primarily on Amazon, so Amazon acts as the lead generation for us.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We get most of our customers from existing e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. Amazon is a great partner for our business and is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. We keep these four principles in mind while we grow and scale our business at Veya.