Desmond Okoye’s Vantage Point:- Medical Doctor and Entreprenuer at day, Cab driver at Night. Ep1 ( Learning and Growing)
I am very sure that when you saw the words ‘Medical Doctor’ and ‘Entreprenuer’ beside ‘Cab Driver’ you had to read more. It’s crazy right?Well! If I were you, I would read on too. I gurantee you that this is an interesting read. Before you say anything otherwise, just keep reading on…
Dearest, this write is coming way late. I have battled to have it written earlier but for time. Being a practicing Medical Doctor [ the exams, clinics, calls and constant readings and research]and running a Startup [ DoctorsOfffice.Ng] as a founder truly has been an interesting journey. A journey I started with only an Idea and Passion to solve a need. It complements me.
I have decided put hands on keybords again. I wanna to share my story with you. In this write, I shared something really exciting. You guessed right. Its my entrepreurial journey so far and why I chose to chauffeur a few folks around for a few hours in my day. hmm!
You should know, growing a business isn’t same with running one. The former is harder. The business takes over your senses. You eat it, live it, move it, be it… So, there isn't an approved time of the day to be an entreprenuer.
Its been a mix of excitment and labour. Real hussle I would say. Imagine combining these: a flourishing medical career, running a startup that is seeing appreciatble traction with no formal marketing, and deciding to chauffer people around for a few hours in my busy day… You would say I am Crazy! I would say such too. Lol!
Your preference might be 1+2+3=6 [ easier] ; Mine might be 3+1+2 [ more analytical]… Same result.
I promise to make this brief as I can. Pinky Promise!!!
In Early 2014, the idea for having a digital health company was conceived. At that time, i had only read about a few international ones. This idea was born solely out of the desire to solve a need. What Need? Providing People with control and ease off access to Credible Health information and Health providers. At the start, i never knew it would be the company it is today… Truly… I didnt Know.
If i should give a statistics, i would say that 8 out of 10 patients i attended to in clinics came in pretty bad shape. Thier crime… They just didnt know better.
So… I spoke with a few friends/collegues. Not surprising, a large proportion of them believed in the idea but only a few supported it by being part of it. This was my first lesson on the entrepreneurial journey.
Fast forward to April 2015, we had a soft launch. We began the platform you know today only as a Facebook page. The plan at launch was just to provide health contents in a very simple and entertaining format. We ensured to make the contents more locally relevant. We succeeded I would say.
The Facebook page took off pretty nicely… Then… More ideas came following users habit. Need to mention, we had a BBM Channel Then too. Lol!
We then realized that after reading a content, a large proportion of the users were then inclined to comment or send via the inbox their questions or clarifications… The light bulb went off to then expand this platform to provide them access to chat with certified Health professionals. I was happy. Had to relearn at this point.
Then I was faced with Another challenge..
How many doctors would I be able to have whom would commit thier time to help answer these questions or clarification? I for one could do such but I needed more hands while I focused more on the business developmet and traction channels.
I approached another few of my colleagues, many declined because they wont be paid. I laughed.. I mean, these were people I felt were my close friends at that time. Don’t get me wrong, they were right to demand renumeration.. Yes! But cmon, they asked for outrageous wages when I was only offering incentives. Lol!
I self taught my self the art of using Wordpress. I learnt a few line of codes for that. Reason, them developers were calling prices (Will talk about my fraustration with developers in another post.). I learnt a lot. I am proud to say such. I became a begineer in coding. I also acquired a certification in Entrepreneurial Management form the Lagos Business School. Mehn! The Hussle sha…
With that, we moved to our our first site, hosted on the WP CMS… It was exititng. Ofcourse, i had more technical issues and glitiches with this new platform. This made 90% of our users still prefer using the FB page to chat us up. Mehn! It was a battle….
The Money Problem.
I have sure jumped a few key information. I dont wanna make this read so long. I promise to share more in subsequest writes.
As with any start up, the time comes when you are strapped for cash to keep the exectuion moving. I invested all I had. My savings, My all.. I even took loans… The Guts i would say. So, While my collegues were buying cars and lands, I was reinvesting mine into the company.
Our business have a very unique business model… so unique… Nigerian investors at that time didn’t know better. I mean, We had pretty outsanding metrics in the number of answered health questions, the number of asked questions per day, the number of returing users and a great Net promoters Score.
I began applying for as many pitches and grants or investments as I could. Digital health in Nigeria in the 2015 and early 2016 I mean was like telling your great grand father about mobile phone. Far fetched.
I understand and see reasons why a few were skeptical. We have a disjointed health system. The Government cared less..
I cried.. Hard!
What kept my hope alive was our metircs and the incresing penetrance of mobile technology. Was truly the passion and the future.
I would say this was my most learning period. It was aslo the period i went to bed after every meeting depressed. Most mornings, I just didn’t wanna get out of bed. What always gave me solace and hope was possibility of what I was doing and users positive feedback about the service.
Active operations for us began in the 3rd Quarter of 2016.. When I mean Active was when a basic comapny organization structure was set up. This was also the time I temporaily quit my Active Medical Practive for the compny. [ I had to get the job back when money became a biggie… Lol!]
So, i sat with tons of Nigerian Investors and other existing business. Thier responses were as usual, not encouraging for a company offeing what didnt fully exist before. At that time, we had yet to make any revenue. This was part of the business model that they didnt understand. It was intentional.. But investors where all about the money than the value of what we were offering. They forget that one has to crawl before walking… Oh well. Its thier money afterall.
As usual, I have intentionally omitted some things not to make this read so long. I promise to share more in subsequent writes.
So, We have decided to keep doing our thing… Executing, monitoring, ReEvaluation, Executing..
We have decided to keep learning, growing and creating value. They would come!
Now, we have a few paying customers, an office space, impressive metircs, More products and services in beta… Being the first Nigerian Startup with Listing details about majority of health centers in Nigeria ( Irrespective of where you are). These data is in the tens of thousands… I am impressed. Still have tons of work to do.
Why did you try being Cab Driver? Are you joking? What was the reason Mr? Was that Necessary? Was it part of your hobby? … You ask.
RelaX! That experience is breathtaking and exciting... I would say the business needed it at that time to stay afloat or maybe was it to kill two birds with a stone? I only can tell you…Also one must learn and be well grounded in an opportunity it before delegating…
I would share more about my few Night life experiences it in Ep 2. The real reason for such, Please kindly Follow My channel to be informed when it goes life.
Please! I need you sharing in my journey. Thanks!
So.. I tried to keep to my promise of a brief post… yay!