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. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Tell me about your education?
I went to Illinois State University, tried to walk-on the basketball team as I was a huge fan of college basketball. I was a total (what I call) a Hack-A-Demic — current education structure favors those with excellent memory retention and those that can put concepts together quickly, which I’m quite good at both. I barely went to class and chose teachers that I knew had high weighted grading on tests. So I didn’t care to do too much of the homework, I would learn concept enough to understand to be able to score high on tests, then just did enough to ensure I had above a 3.0 GPA (most companies meaningless barometer of entry). My priorities in college were the web design/agency I started with two buddies, basketball, social, then school as last. I knew I was going to figure things out “on the job” no matter what I was going to do.
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
I started a lawn mowing business with my best friend at the time, our brothers had two push mowers and were terrible at running the business. We were in 6th grade and both from pretty lower economic means. We were always hustling for a dollar, and we pitched our brothers that we would mow all of their lawn accounts for free and give them 25% of all of our new accounts until we paid the mowers off to own them. They thought we were fools thinking it would take all summer to pay them off…. It took about a week!
I learned a lot from this experience, 1st I learned that I LOVED negotiating and getting into a deal. The next big lesson is learning that there is always an angle, or an advantage to get something you want that you to have to find it. In this context Adam (my co-founder) and I realized we had a huge advantage in selling, we were in 6th grade, chubby, cute kids. We figured that knocking on every door in the neighbourhood we could play up the cute kid card, and convince them to pay us $15–30 to cut their lawn to help pay for our sports, or college savings and they couldn’t say no! We played this advantage up huge all the way into High School, hiring and training Jr. High kids to help us do our selling as we had over 500 accounts, 18 employees by the time I was a Senior in High School. I sold half the business to Adam who still runs the company in the SW Suburbs of Chicago.
We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
Mark Cuban, I love his hustle and appreciation of the hustle and his incredible passion. He has a great way of putting things together to find the opportunity or the path to a dollar so quickly, and I love that about him. I also like how he speaks his mind and doesn’t care about how others view his opinion. Lastly, I like how he is humble in explaining how he learned in experiences of being wrong, and he seems to be quick to remove ego and go for the win regardless of the path.
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.
What is the name of your company?
Where is your company located?
What services or products does your organization provide?
We provide a flexible health and wellness engagement platform for businesses, healthcare providers and other stakeholders in health to use healthy lifestyle data to put the right resources and health actions in front of the right people at the right times.
What problem is your business trying to solve?
Aggregating and marrying health lifestyle data, i.e., Fitbit, Apple watch Garmin, etc…data to broader health contextual but a point in time data, i.e., health risk assessments, claims, Bio-metric screens to provide a better picture of ones point in time, but more longitudinal health.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
Our ability to approach this from a consumer first, we are B2C2B meaning we have a consumer platform that organically grows at 1K+ users a day, by allowing anyone with an activity tracker to build, join a community with others to challenge each other or just motivate or hold each other accountable to their health. From there we enrich information we know about them, to know where they work, and more to then introduce content to the user that may be relevant to help get our platform products to stakeholders in their health continuum, i.e., their employer (lowest hanging fruit) or doctor, insurance.
Everyone in our space sells B2B2C — and lacks empathy for the user, and they are building a product for the buyer, not the user. This philosophy is a HUGE problem in healthcare where everyone says they are making a product to go to the consumer but poorly executing and underdelivering.
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
Working in the benefits space for a few years when I was leading digital strategies for a massive HR Consulting & Outsourcing company. I saw that most of the problem with the dramatic rise in costs of health care was how the services were being presented to the people, indeed a user experience problem. Very fragmented, pull-based, low participation and no longitudinal engagement strategy or purpose for the employees. I just knew there had to be a better way when wearable devices started to take off. I figured maybe this could be the hook/gateway to building engagement communities in health… so we did it!
Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?
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.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
Hate to be cliché here, but be humble, not afraid to fail and fail quickly, talk to your users cause they are going to know best. The biggest thing I can say is don’t obsess over being the newest tech or coolest tech “that has never been done before” when I talk to people asking me for advice, this is a huge red flag! Focus on one problem and try to be the best at it.