Being an entrepreneur can sometimes feel like we put out lives on the line for our business. Michael Koss, co-founder and CEO of Global Patient Portal, does this literally. His business takes him to some of less affluent areas of India, where he is often subjected to food poisoning, parasites and bouts of travel sickness. This commitment might often be talked about within entrepreneurial circles, but is rarely seen at this level.
From skipping lectures at university in favour of experiencing real life, to being connected with the Prime Minister of India, Michael shares his journey... so far.
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Studying law at university, Michael admits that he spent more time away from university experiencing life rather than attending classes and lectures. He did enough to obtain his law degree though, and decided that, as he was studying law, he should become a lawyer. It wasn't long though, before he realised that he wanted something more than the 9 to 5 corporate life. In fact after his first day on the job as a lawyer, he said to himself "this isn't going to do for the next 40 years."
Michael, and his friend Hayden, started working on ideas of businesses they could build, even going to far as to look for property in San Diego in anticipation of moving there to be within a strong startup community. When Michael received an opportunity to speak in India about legal impediments around medical tourism, being ready to take on any new experience that life offered, he jumped at the chance. This opportunity put Michael in the right place at the right time, as it was there that he became aware of the lack of usable medical information in India that would eventually lead to the idea behind Global Patient Portal.
As often happens, it is the fact that Michael sought experiences rather than looking directly for problems to solve that resulted in the beginning of his business. Michael admits "We didn't know what business we could run... but we knew we wanted to do something." "It was only by getting involved and giving it a try that we were able to identify and be in a position to find the real opportunities out there." They spent many hours brainstorming different ideas and then looking for experiences around those ideas that may lead to opportunities.
Michael and co-founder Hayden have bootstrapped Global Patient Portal, which Michael feels has been absolutely necessary in proving that they are the people who can bring this solution to market. Starting off lean can often ensure that a business remains lean, even once funding becomes available.
As would be expected, the journey hasn't been easy for Michael and Hayden. The volume of work necessary, and the weight of what they are trying to achieve sometimes weighs heavily on Michael. The fear of not being able to make it, or finding the going too tough, is real, but Michael explains that to be committed to something means going all in. He even refuses to keep an up-to-date CV so he is unable to apply for a job, should one come up that is of some interest.
In the last 12 months, Michael feels that he has grown as a businessman. "I've gone through he fire now and come out the other side." Despite the high and lows, and the difficulties with the travel load, the life of an entrepreneur sits well with Michael, ticking many boxes for him in life and work.
Michael's advice for other entrepreneurs is to "Do what feels natural for yourself." When you first start out it can be difficult to navigate experiences and opportunities, so go with what feels right for you.
Michael is passionate about Global Patient Portal and the outcomes they are seeking to achieve, and while they still have a way to go yet, he is confident they will hit the key milestones they have set for themselves. If you are interested in healthcare or healthcare software, or just interested in what GPP are doing, reach out to Michael. He would be happy to have a conversation with you.
Go to your market to do your research
As with most businesses, what you initially think it will look like is usually very different from what you finally build. How you get there depend a lot on your market research, and the best results come from talking directly to your target market. Don't always rely on "experts" or industry commentators to fill in the gaps. Get on the ground and embed yourself within your market's community.
Look for experiences, not just ideas
It's relatively easy to come up with ideas, but turning those ideas into reality is the tricky part. The link between the two is the experiences that lead to the opportunities. Even before you start to formulate ideas, seek out experiences. Take in as much as you can, and ideas and opportunities will follow.
Go all in
No-one ever achieved anything meaningful by going at it with half-efforts. In Michael's case, he has committed not only his time, but his short-term health, to the cause of GPP. When you are passionate and focused on the goals you have, there is not much that stands in your way that will hold you up for too long. Give it everything you've got to make it work.
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