The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur.
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Ricky: Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Danny: Danny O’Brien
Ricky: Where did you go to school?
Danny: Undergraduate degree in Business from George Mason University. Master’s in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and MBA from Loyola University in Maryland
Ricky: Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
Danny: My father worked for the federal government and when we were kids, we occasionally would borrow a pen from a classmate marked “US Government Pen”. My father would go ballistic saying that the pen was stolen. We were living in Northern Virginia where lots of people worked for the government and virtually everyone helped themselves to the government-issued pens, etc. But my dad had a very strict sense of integrity that, I think, helped shape mine.
Ricky: Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons.
Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
Ricky: What is the name of your company?
Danny: Avila Home Care
Ricky: Where is your company located?
Danny: Towson, Maryland
Ricky: What services or products does your organization provide?
Danny: We provide in-home care for seniors or other adults who need some assistance to be able to thrive in the homes they love.
Ricky: What problem is your business trying to solve?
Danny: People who are aging and require some assistance but do not want to move to assisted living or a nursing home. We come alongside them and their family to provide whatever services they need to be able to remain at home safely and to thrive to the fullest extent possible.
Ricky: How is your business unique against your competitors?
Danny: Our culture is very unique. The best caregivers in this field do their work out of a sense of calling, not just because they need a job. Our company affirms the dignity of their calling, and we treat our caregivers exceptionally well and pay them more than any other agency. We do not charge the most, but we pay the most. Also, everyone on our office team has tremendous interpersonal skills and treats our caregivers (and our clients and their families) with love and respect. We share a belief that the highest calling for any of us is to love others and we seek to do this in every interaction every day.
Ricky: How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
Danny: I was at a point of transition after being the pastor of a church for ten years. Previously, I spent 16 years as a senior executive with Erickson Living, a company that develops and manages large retirement communities, so I had great experience in senior living. I felt like home care was a great fusion of my senior living and my pastoral care experience.
Ricky: Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?
Ricky: Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.
Ricky: What one tip would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
Danny: Think clearly about the purpose of your business. If the main purpose is for you to make money or to maximize shareholder value, it won’t be very inspirational to your staff or to your clients. My belief is that we aren’t in business to make money, rather we make money to be in business. Profits are like oxygen — they are necessary for life but not the purpose we live. Consider how your business will enhance the lives of your clients, their families, your employees, and the community. Focus on that. It will make every day more meaningful for you and your team, you will provide better goods and services to your clients, and you may well find that you’ll be even more profitable than you otherwise would have been.