In today’s edition of the Unusual Entrepreneurs Interview, I have on the hot seat a medical Doctor whose passion for palliative care – specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses moved him to embark on the entrepreneur’s journey.
I present to you Dr. Michael D. Fratkin, the founder of ResolutionCare – a community based palliative care startup dedicated to empowering patients, till the very end!
In this unusual entrepreneur interview, Michael shares how he;
- Successfully funded ResolutionCare with an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign
- Successfully transitioned from a medical doctor to an entrepreneur through the help of strategic consultants who provided the much needed business advisory/support
- Strategically leveraged on trending technologies to create a unique business model
- And many more….
Without further ado, here’s the unusual story of the unusual medical doctor who turned entrepreneur!
Part 1: Michael Fratkin Unusual Entrepreneur Interview
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Awakening the Spirit of business
Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business? What do you do?, how do you do it?, why do you do it and who do you do it for?
I am a father, husband, brother and son…and I am also a rural palliative care physician. After years of isolated overwork in the absence of needed support/team and dependence on distressed healthcare system, I launched a startup on the strength of an outpouring of public support in the form of a crowd-funding campaign that raised $150,000.
ResolutionCare is a community based palliative care team caring for people with serious illness in their home with either house calls, or virtual house calls via telemedicine, or both.
Our “why” has something to do with the care of people no longer able to maintain the illusion of their immortality, provided by those of who still can. We now serve our local community in Humboldt County, we are immediately extending access to 14 rural Northern California counties, and we are actively architecting a national scaling effort.
How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business? Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
As a frustrated and nearly burned out physician, long on passion and short on business chops, it has been quite a wild ride! The learning curve has been nearly vertical and dizzying. Our success was due to two things:
- My intuitive understanding of what I do not know and
- A recognition of inspired individuals that do!
Last July, I was waking up my nine year old daughter Bella. As she opened her eyes, she said, “Goodbye Daddy.” Not good morning, not hello. That day I pulled the trigger on this project with the commitment that I am NOT going to be a “Goodbye Daddy” Daddy!
When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
- The mismatch between what people and their families want from healthcare as they approach the completion of their lives and what their experience turns out to be. Solutions from within the distressed institutions invested in the past just ain’t happening. It was necessary to get outside the box and develop a new way to deliver and to pay for compassionate care entirely centered on what the person themselves defines as value.
We are investing in a future of health care that is anchored in quality of life, satisfaction, and the sustainable well-being of dedicated professionals. While we understand that this will save huge amounts of wasted healthcare expenditures for payors, our investment is in raising the bar on the care received by the most vulnerable among us.
- The maturity of cloud-based videoconferencing, the penetration of video-enabled devices, and the tipping point of people getting comfortable with this form of remote communication all combine with an electrified social conversation about the failures of our system to meet the needs of people with serious illness lit the fuse of ResolutionCare.
What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
I am not sure I can imagine doing it otherwise. What’s the point?
What is your personal life mission as an entrepreneur? That is; what contributions do you want to make with your life or what would you like to be remembered for as an entrepreneur through the businesses you create when you die?
My personal life mission as an entrepreneur follows my personal life mission as a person…at the end of my life, I hope to feel complete, loved, and cared for. The memory of me is less important than setting into motion a tangible benefit to others….beginning with my family and extending to all of us.
What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
I am just a beginner here, but it has something to do with the management of risk to advance innovation in service to some vision of a better world.
Part 2: Michael Fratkin Unusual Entrepreneur Interview
STRATEGY: The unusual execution of business best practices
How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
We center our business development in a deep understanding of what’s missing for people with serious illness, then reverse engineer solutions that also solve problems for the many competing stakeholders…payors, provider, referring physicians, health systems, etc… Their interests are all secondary to what’s needed by the people we all serve.
Do you have mentors, business coach or external consultants that you work closely with to grow yourself and your business? If yes, to what extent would you describe their impact on your business? If no, are there any particular reasons?
I am incredibly grateful to consultants supporting crowdfunding, strategic communication, and business strategy. Without their expertise and engagement, I’m just another burned out doctor with a good idea.
How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
I architect my schedule for sustainability and balance. Little to no work in evenings and weekends…that time belongs to my family and friends. I take Wednesday morning off to hang out with my wife alone while the kids are at school.
I get up at four am to take advantage of a peaceful environment (i.e. sleeping family!) and then I work like crazy all the rest of the time. In order to not let the project gobble up your whole life, you have to grab time away and structures like the above to ensure that the things outside of work that make life worthwhile don’t evaporate.
How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
We both enjoy and suffer from a marketplace where there is at least four times the demand than there is supply. Our marketing is to advance our vision and our field…not to scare up “customers”.
Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter and how do you cope with funding issues in your business?
I suspect its not the funding that’s usually lacking, but rather the vision, timing, team, and something absolutely worth doing…the value proposition.
When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
The people you serve or to whom you provide a product. Some people call them “customers”, but I call them partners. Get the help you need from people who “get it”. They have to feel what you feel and at least relate to your passion, if not be infected by it themselves.
The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
In the current healthcare financing universe, the revenue for services provided are somewhat standardized. Going forward, we are investing in a future where payment is at least contingent on the value experienced by people who our services are designed for. It is a dynamic conversation in the field of palliative care and policymakers in which ResolutionCare actively participates as an emerging thought leader.
Part 3: Michael Fratkin Unusual Entrepreneur Interview
MISCELLANEOUS: Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for entrepreneurs
Since you became an entrepreneur – someone who solves problems for people profitably; what has been your most outstanding accomplishments in the context of business?
The growing opportunity to be heard as I articulate the heart and soul of medicine with the credibility of building a viable and sustainable model for the compassionate and capable care of everyone everywhere as they face the completion of life.
What would you describe as your major setbacks and what lessons did you pick from them?
The setbacks have all yielded the kind of learning I need. Though painful failures in communication and coordination have had negative consequences, there really is no other way to learn the critical elements of leadership than making mistakes and taking responsibility. This modeling of vulnerability has helped create a safe and collaborative culture that encourages people to share their fumbles as easily as their triumphs.
Where there any particular questions you expected me to ask that is beneficial to entrepreneurs and I didn’t? Kindly share with us such questions and their relevant answers here.
I look forward to a conversation and hope you are intrigued enough to arrange a podcast!
I’m so convinced you had more than you asked for in this interview. But just in case, he missed out something, what more would you like to know about the unusual medical doctor who turned entrepreneur?
You can ask him further questions below in the comment section and I will be sure that you will get an answer directly from him.
Also, what did you learn from this unusual entrepreneur? What lessons, what philosophy of his strike you the most? What strategies did you pick up from him?
Michael has shared his unusual story with you, now is time to hear from you. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Very much appreciated this interview with Dr. Fratkin. I am about to start up a Project in Sydney that might be called “The Conversation Project”.
A team of older people will be trained as volunteers to survey and recruit partners to provide this kind of compassionate and capable care to those in their neighbourhood who are at this stage of their lives.
Providing purpose and fullfillment for those still capable of mobility to those more frail than ourselves,
over cups of tea and cake in comfortable surrounds, such as a drop-in centre.