Entrepreneur 2 Entrepreneur: Thompson Aderinkomi on Growth

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Thompson AderinkomiSpecial thank you to Split Rock Partners  for underwriting the Entrepreneur 2 Entrepreneur series. 

Minnesota Tech Entrepreneur Thompson Aderinkomi has been pursuing disruption in the healthcare insurance industry since experiencing the pain points first hand over two years ago.

“The current healthcare system, with its relationships between primary care doctors and insurance companies, sucks (like a vampire) and must die,” he declares. “Preventative medicine can be made affordable to every man, woman and child in this country.”

His remedy, RetraceHealth, aims to eradicate waste from the healthcare system through software and technology enabled primary care solutions.  While the startup has yet to experience the outcomes Aderinkomi initially sought, this change agent is openly adapting; a sure fire sign of the entrepreneurial growth he speaks to.

When asked what theme resonates with where you’re at as a tech entrepreneur, you chose ‘growth’. Why?

My rate of personal growth has more than doubled since deciding to become a tech entrepreneur two years ago. Before choosing to devote myself full time to entrepreneurship I had spent a great deal of time in academia and the corporate world in the health care industry. I thought that after 14 years of education and healthcare work experience that founding a tech start-up in healthcare should be straight forward.

What I realized is that I did not even know the basics of founding a tech company in healthcare. The amount of information I have consumed and applied in the last two years of full time entrepreneurship is equal to the last four years I spent working in large healthcare organizations. My personal growth is now measured in days and weeks instead of fiscal quarters and annual reviews.

In retrospect, in what ways have you grown as a tech entrepreneur?

In the healthcare industry if you want to solve the core issues that assail the industry, technology is just a small piece of the solution, the hard and necessary work is in creating new business models that can leverage new technology to lower prices and increase accessibility.

It has taken me two years of full time entrepreneurship to realize this. I believe that what I have learned is true for all tech entrepreneurs. If you are tackling really big problems, you need to learn about your industry’s business models and then create new business models to leverage the technology that you are developing.

Without disruptive business models to leverage disruptive technology it will be impossible to take your technology to the world in a meaningful way, no matter how amazing the technology is.

Split Rock Partners

What have been some learned lessons so far on your entrepreneurial journey?

One very practical lesson that I have learned along my journey is about how to form productive strategic partnerships other organizations.

I had the good fortune of forming a strong partnership with a key stakeholder in the healthcare industry when I was starting development on RetraceHealth. The partnership lasted for 6 months and then abruptly came to an end. The reason it ended in my estimation is because our missions were not aligned. I did a mental review of the numerous meetings that had occurred over the 6 month period and I recognized in hinds sight a plethora of glaring signs that RetraceHealth’s mission and our partner’s mission were not aligned. This misalignment by definition made our economic engines different further distancing our organizations. Once the partnership ended and I rose from my pit of sorrow and despair, I found that I was much more creative now that I was not futilely trying to conform RetraceHealth’s mission to the mission of a much larger organization.

RetraceHealth’s business model would not have become what it has today if this partnership was still active. In the future, before I form any type of partnership, I will focus on ensuring the missions of both organizations are the same or complimentary.

What advice would you have for the early stage tech entrepreneur reading this?

One important lesson I learned that may benefit others is to ensure you are talking to the right customers. In order to ensure one is speaking to the right customers one must define a target market based on the problem a group of people need solved, not on demographic data like age, gender, location, income, industry.

These demographic variables do not tell you anything about whether a customer needs a unique problem solved. When you focus on demographic data, target markets become incredibly homogeneous along irrelevant variables. The problem this causes is that there is a high probability that you will be talking to the wrong customers. When an entrepreneur talks to the wrong customers that she thinks are in her target market, those wrong customers will not appreciate her technology. These types of interactions will lead an entrepreneur to falsely believe that there is no market for her technology.

If you are an early stage tech entrepreneur pitching your idea to people who you think are in your target market and no one likes your idea – do not give up. Double back and make sure you are talking to the right potential customers before you move on to another idea.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

RetraceHealth’s target market includes entrepreneurs and our mission is to make high quality healthcare cost less than food. All entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities will benefit from our product. Please visit us at www.retracehealth.com and read the details about our homemade kick starter campaign.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/petekaneee Pete Kane

    Thompson – Solid. I’m glad you emphasized finding new business models as a key success factor. Especially in Healthcare, next generation business models should be emphasized just as much as the technology behind it.

  • larmanius

    Great article.

    IMHO the problem in healthcare is analogous to the movie studio, movie star, and movie fan issue. Studio = hospital and other management, movie star = doctors, patients = movie fans.

    Studios can’t do anything without the stars. Fans won’t go to see movies without stars. Stars want to be in movies, but only the right movies, ones that make them lots of money. Studios always want cheap, young stars, and hate paying up for big stars…and are openly hostile to them behind their backs. So, everybody laments the cost of movies, but nobody wants to give up anything–not special FX, not stars, not popcorn, nothing.

    I suspect that ObamaCare will end up “breaking” the AMA in the end; more use of mid-levels, lower fees. Sadly, hospital execs will win…as will insurers.

    The only way for Docs to really win is accept that they are being disrupted out, and accept the new future. Be in charge of Mid-levels and stay in charge of the system, but at lower rates. Better to survive in an iTunes world than try and hold onto the old A&R “big label” days that made a few rich.

    IMHO, as I said.

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