Featured Founder: Ryan Doherty of iamsick.ca
Profiling Entrepreneurs for Global Entrepreneurship Week
Featuring Ryan Doherty, Founder & President of iAmSick.ca
Introducing Ryan! What does your startup offer?
I am the president and co-founder of iamsick.ca, and we are a digital health company that focuses on helping Canadians access healthcare while also enabling healthcare service providers. We have a website and series of free apps that help patients find nearby family doctors accepting new patients, walk-in clinics, pharmacies, ERs, diagnostic labs and wellness clinics. For the past year, we have been offering online appointment e-booking for walk-in clinics, family doctors and pharmacies. We’re now in the process of scaling and expanding the portfolio of services offered through iamsick.ca.
We are about to launch physician housecall visit requests, so Canadians can use our website and mobile app to request a doctor to visit them or their children in the comfort of their own homes.
We have also extended our partnership with the Missisauga/Milton/Halton/Brampton region, and will be listing holiday hours for all healthcare providers this December. So, you can easily find out which clinics and pharmacies are open on Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, etc.
We have additional feature launches planned for early 2016. Next year will be full of unique service offerings that will hopefully continue to improve the way patients access healthcare. There are plenty of creative ways to help patients access healthcare services while also helping healthcare providers save money by delivering care more efficiently.
Before this, what did you do, and how did you transition?
Before iamsick.ca, I was a Medical Biophysics PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Midway through my PhD, I started planning for the next steps of my career path. My PhD research was related to the fields of proteomics, genomics, bioinformatics, and computational analyses involved in the early stages of drug discovery. Traditional career paths for my field consisted of either pursuing a couple post-doc positions for an academic path, or working in industry for Big Pharma. At that time, I had also considered pursuing an MBA, since there was a bit of a push for science grads to go to business school. However, I received some interesting advice while meeting with a few mentors. I was told on multiple occasions that I could spend money on an MBA to learn through structured courses and build a strong network through a business school, or I could spend that same amount of money building a startup and learning from the experiences of wearing the many hats of an entrepreneur. I took their advice to heart, and decided to start iamsick.ca and use my PhD stipend and savings to fund iamsick.ca. I started iamsick.ca 3 years ago, and completed my PhD this past summer. I probably would have completed my PhD sooner if I had chosen to wait until I graduated to start the business. However, by starting the process of creating the startup early, I reduced the personal risk associated with the startup failing and I also set the stage for building relationships and generating the foundation to scale the business now that I’ve graduated.
What is your everyday schedule like?
I find that there’s no such thing as a “typical day” while leading iamsick.ca. Many days consist of a mix of meeting with potential business partners, mentors, advisors, clients, or team members. Other days are spent entirely in the office with the team, leading development planning/testing, supporting sales and marketing efforts, etc. The one thing that is consistent is that most days extend beyond a typical 9-5, which is a good problem to have when you’re a startup about to scale.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration when I speak with the various stakeholders of our healthcare system. From patients to healthcare professionals to healthcare administrators and policy-makers. It’s their personal stories (positive & negative) that motivate me to try to make a difference. It’s also about recognizing the opportunities for innovation in the healthcare system, and the significance of relentless incrementalism to achieve such goals.
What are the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?
The most challenging obstacles have been associated with financing, especially while bootstrapping. However, I have come to recognize that there will always be roadbumps along the way. Some challenges and obstacles can be avoided with proper planning, but many are related to external factors that will lead to either a pivot or a minor change of course. I am an optimistic person, so I always look for the hidden opportunities buried within an obstacle.
What is one of the most important keys to success in your field?
Like most startups, the key to success is having a great Idea, Plan & Team. These don’t need to be perfect on Day 1, but it’s important to recognize your own strengths & weaknesses. Each component of that trifecta should be malleable and evolve as internal needs & external factors change.
I feel empowered and ready to take on the world every time I walk through the office door of a potential partner, client, though leader, or key decision maker. To have the opportunity to discuss iamsick.ca and identify how it aligns with their needs is a great feeling.
What is your experience working with Now Creative Group?
Now Creative Group is the very talented and creative group that designed the iamsick.ca logo, and also a “Get Well Quick” card for our crowdfunding campaign last year. It has been a lot of fun working with them. I appreciate the level of detail that they took when working with us, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. I’d strongly recommend their services.
What is your goal within the next 10 years years? Where would you like to be?
Within the next 10 years, I’m hoping to scale iamsick.ca into an international digital health company that is improving the lives of millions of patients while also helping make healthcare systems more affordable and easier for healthcare providers. A lot can happen in 10 years, and I’m excited to find out which healthcare innovations will become commonly accessible a decade from now. I’m equally excited to pursue opportunities that are part of the exponential innovation of healthcare.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is seeing the limitless opportunities to change the world and make it a better place.
If you got to meet a version of yourself in high school, what’s one thing you would say to yourself?
Continue dreaming big. Everything is possible with the right ingredients.
What is one of your favourite quotes?
“Dream Big, Start Small, Fail Quickly & Scale Fast”
I like this quote because it ties a nice bow around the life that I’m currently living.