Every time I read an article on Tech Crunch or listen to an episode of How I Built This my mind races with all the ideas I have to make an impact on the world. Most of my ideas die in the shower and then I went to business school in Europe, sat in an Entrepreneurship class, and stumbled across a problem to solve: Why did it take 2 years for me to find the right treatment and health practitioner to help me manage my own health condition?
“2 years is too damn long”, I thought to myself. I built a team of passionate individuals and we were accepted into the school’s accelerator. We went deep into understanding the US healthcare industry and realized there were a TON of problems to solve. We cold called, emailed, surveyed and talked to hundreds of individuals. We pivoted ourselves to death. We still did not know how to make money but we pitched an emotional and personal story. We ended the program a top 10 finalist and nominated for “Best Entrepreneurial Project”. Not bad.
I graduated, came back to the US, and the team went our separate ways. I was not ready to kill the project. With a friend, we continued to validate and could finally describe what we were working on more succinctly: Building a network of compassionate healthcare practitioners who deliver personalized and balanced care. It is hard to know where to start and who to trust when it comes to holistic health management.
With a basic MVP and a couple of practitioners on board we actually got some revenue. As each week went by though we questioned our revenue stream. We ran into a brick wall on practitioner acquisition strategy. We felt our team was not the right talent mix to get this thing really going.
One thing remained clear, the feedback we continued to receive was the problem we want to solve has yet to be adequately solved. We just did not know how.
Then something miraculously happened, a couple of seasoned healthcare executives took interest in the project. I pitched my heart out. They confirmed our concerns on revenue, customer acquisition, the team composition and scalability but they were perfect to help us figure it out. Guess what? We got a term sheet! Voila, a credible team and seed funding. The possibilities seemed endless and all those concerns disappeared.
Then I read the terms and fine print. Soul crushing is an understatement. My objectivity, desperation, and emotions were at odds with each other. I sought advice and ultimately walked away from the deal. So close yet so far away.
I stepped my toe into the startup scene for a mere 8 months and my admiration for entrepreneurs and business owners has skyrocketed. I am so in awe of their ability to remain confident, resilient, and a visionary.
So now what? We’re in the dreaded hang-in vs. kill decision making process. Those business model and team concerns only disappeared temporarily. We have fallen into the classic venture trap, we cannot tell the difference between an idea that has no future and an idea that we have just not executed properly. The line between passion and practicality has become fuzzy for us.
Whatever we decide the Tigger in me always looks for the bright side.
- I’m so lucky to have experienced a lot of “flow” during this journey, it’s super cool to understand what elements of work get me there.
- I’m appreciative to everyone who answers our cold calls and emails, it makes my day. The way patients and practitioners open up is inspiring.
- I’m fortunate to have the executives/investors give me a chance, they helped me understand what I am willing to sacrifice and fight for.
- I’m grateful for my support system filled with friends, mentors, and family who are not only encouraging but protecting me.
Smarter than I was yesterday, that’s all I can ask for.