- Imagine starting a business that no one thought they needed.
- Imagine leaving your family in one country and starting a business thousands of miles away in another from scratch.
- Imagine having the opportunity to make 250k/year and choosing to make zero — or worse spend all your hard-earned savings bootstrapping.
- Imagine going to a country that your family and friends do not want to return to and millions run away from.
That’s how I began my journey launching Magna Carta Health — a company that now services 15k patients annually and growing in Nigeria. It has been a rewarding and transformative journey that I am still on.
Many successful startups start in garages. My founder’s story starts with death. Lots of death. Cancer and death robbed me of my brother, father, uncles, aunty, cousins, and countless friends. It crept in and ruined birthdays with news of my brother and father’s deaths, tainted holidays, and cast a shadow on happy days. I came face-to-face with this horrible disease as I watched my father slip away. As a physician, I am familiar with the science of disease. As a person, I am no stranger to the devastation of loss.
Suffering these countless losses ignited my need to change the way people view their health and are at the very center of my founder’s story. I knew that one day I would run my own company, I just didn’t know when, where or what I would be doing. Watching those around me pass on forced me to confront what could have been done to prevent these losses. This simple idea to inspire others to live healthier lives through preventative medicine, and thus prevent catastrophic disease, is what began Magna Carta Health.
Life is meant for helping others. My hero complex and need to save others came from a young age. I witnessed my parents endlessly giving spirits helping their friends and family in Nigeria and the US, and fan-girled Mother Theresa and all of her tremendous works. What better way to apply my hero complex than by becoming a doctor?
Fast forward to becoming Dr. Lola and the sudden realization that a lot of our health problems could be prevented and that there is a vicious cycle of ignorance, poverty and disease that creates a public health crisis of enormous proportions. This led me to Johns Hopkins to get my Masters degree in Public Health. I learned, I trained , I worked and I realized that I still had a yearning to learn more. I also learned how much our health is intrinsically linked to our environment. This lead me to Harvard University to get my Masters degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management. With all my education, I was being courted by various organizations with fantastic salaries.
Ultimately, I made a decision that many entrepreneurs do — I took the path of most resistance. I turned down the corporate world in pursuit of wanting to help people the way I knew how — through comprehensive, individualized, preventative care. Two months after my father passed away, my husband and I started Magna Carta Health.
Entrepreneurship is not glamorous. Entrepreneurship that directly relates to people’s lives can be grueling. One of the most wrenching experiences was when I had to tell a dear friend of over 20 years that she was HIV positive — over Skype. She was my ideal client — “seemingly well” and she came in for a preventive check-up. The results of her test came back when I was in the US. Unlike many of my stories, hers does not end in death. Thanks to quality preventative care, my friend is thriving and managing her illness in a positive way. Times can be difficult, but saving a life is a reward beyond measure.
My founder’s story is one of constant discovery. One discovery leads to a new one. The latest discovery came from my experience with Magna Carta Health. When I received the Entrepreneurial award for Women Mean Business I was asked about what mentors shaped my story. I thought for a bit, and realized most of them were men. It made me question why strong female badasses were so hard to access. From this discussion, I decided to create MentoringHer — an online social networking platform where we can find each other and help one another to be the best versions of ourselves , particularly in areas relating to academia, career, entrepreneurship and empowerment. Everyone needs a mentor — even Eleanor Roosevelt knew this. I carry her words, “Learn from the mistakes of others, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself,” with me as I embark upon my latest founder’s journey.