FOUNDERS OF MEDCON
What inspired you all to create MedCon and why did you start when you started?
MedCon was the culmination of a number of factors. We wanted to bring together the medical community that had been growing on social media for the past couple of years together in person. Healthcare is unique as a niche in social media. While the healthcare field itself can develop and grow on social media to better serve patients, it cannot ever truly leave it’s roots in human-to-human connection.
In fact, this human connection and the healing touch was the foundation of the field itself. 2019 was the year that everything finally came together. Social media healthcare had more than established its importance, and the three of us had all connected at the right place and the right time. Sandra brought expo experience to provide a vision for the event, Audrey provided an extensive network of healthcare contacts and friends in the field, and Gregory, with extensive experience in complex events, program and logistics management in healthcare programs.
What are your biggest goals and dreams with MedCon?
We wanted to be the first to shift healthcare meetups from simply being the traditional continuing education focused events and sales pitches of the past. While an important part of long term continuation of the healthcare industry, we weren’t simply looking to join these events, we wanted to shake it up and bring something different and new to the table. We wanted to show the human spark that built this field not only still exists, but will drive the change that continuously improves it.
On a more concrete level, we wanted to spark conversations. Speakers were carefully selected and invited to attend, and placed TedX style on our stage to talk about shared experiences. Rather than a one-to-many approach, we made the audience a key part of the experience. Vendors were selectively curated. Gone was the experience of hundreds of vendors selling the same things, but few selected due to quality of the products sold, involvement in both provider and patient outcomes, and company ethics.
In fact, we even asked vendors to not do traditional sales on the expo floor, but rather to provide experiences, something we enabled with early logistics and resource management planning with our venue and the logistics team. Attendee badges provided a “passport” to various experiences, scannable with barcodes to each vendor and to our VIP lounge (another experience not typically seen). Each part of the experience had to answer the question “how does this increase the fuel to spark conversation?”
As a team positively impacting healthcare, do you feel like there is room for growth and positive changes in healthcare? Why or why not?
Absolutely. Healthcare ultimately is about supporting the human condition and the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. For as long as we’re working towards this goal, we must adapt to an ever increasingly complex environment. One such example of this is the One Health approach. The human body is highly connected both biochemically and intangibly with the emotional connection we build. Health care is integrating to address these needs more holistically, and MedCon is part of being able to integrate amongst each other – not just the biochemical processes within.
BRETT KESTENBAUM PT DPT
What compelled you to start your own business and why at that point in your life?
I’ve always been interested in business ever since I was young. I was a serial project entrepreneur in college where I started a company selling custom-painted Nike’s ( I think we sold 2 pairs), and another charging a delivery fee to pick things up from the grocery store or local restaurants and deliver them to the college dorms. Although both of these companies didn’t last long, they entertained my entrepreneurial spirit while I pursued my undergraduate degree.
When I graduated from NSU with my DPT in 2014, I had set my goal to find a job where I could easily pay my basic bills with 2-3 days per week of work that also would provide flexible scheduling. With a little luck, a per-diem position paying a great hourly rate had opened up at Scripps Hospital in San Diego where I had done one of my clinical rotations. This was the first seed that I had planted for myself in starting a business on my own since I did not know what business I would start at that point, but I wanted to ensure that I’d be able to have the flexibility to pursue the right thing when I found it.
About 3 months after I started my first job out of school, my co-founder Matt Geller had approached me with an idea that I knew we could be successful with. We started off by doing market research, building a plan, and pitching it to both investors and large organizations to pre-sell our product. I worked 5 + days a week at the hospital so that I could build up cash reserves, and worked on the market research and pitch decks after work and on my off days.
Overtime, I started taking more days off of work as the business started to progress until eventually I went full time at CovalentCareers. This could have been considered a difficult decision because I had to take out a personal loan to float my bills in the short-term, but I had belief in myself and my organization, and I was willing to make the short term sacrifices that I needed to (like Airbnbing my apartment and sleeping on friends couches or on the floor at our office) to get the business going.
How has your business evolved since you started it and what are you excited for this year?
Business and entrepreneurship are an evolutionary process. You need to be willing to adapt and change with the changing circumstances. Our original idea was to create a platform that would automate recruiting processes in healthcare. Within about a year and a half we had pivoted that idea and decided to make tools that would be complimentary for recruiting organizations, and then eventually hired on our own internal recruiters to help healthcare professionals find jobs. We adapted to the market needs every step of the way.
We now have 14 full-time employees, and the majority of our business is in media and recruiting services. This year we are focused on hosting Virtual Events for industries and organizations.
What message do you wish to impart to those that want to start their own business- whether clinically-related or not, but not sure if this idea will work or are too afraid to start?
The biggest thing to understand is that life is a process, and you can achieve any goal that you set out to achieve. You won’t have all the answers at first, and the path will be very, very foggy to begin with, but if you persist, you will build momentum, and you will get where you need to go.
Think about any pursuit that you want to tackle as if it was your journey through grad school. When you first started you didn’t have a clue what was going on. But then you worked hard, studied, and built your knowledge base from the ground up. You made some mistakes and got some things wrong, but eventually, you figured it out, earned your degree and started working. When you started working, you didn’t know exactly how to treat every patient, and you didn’t even know where to find all the information. But your goal was to be a better practitioner, so your goal drove you to figure out where to find the information you would need to create an impactful treatment plan for your patients. And then eventually, you felt comfortable in your own shoes. You learned how to treat patients, you understand how to manage complex cases, and that “fear” that you felt walking into work every day subsided and you were confident that you could achieve the results that you needed.
That’s the same with starting a business. When you start out you know nothing, but your goals drive your actions, and you just start to figure things out and then your knowledge base grows and your outcomes improve, and then eventually after a lot of time and hard, hard work, you get there.