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Why startups can benefit from a family-like dynamic

Christina Hernandez Sherwood on August 12, 2014

Anthony Sterns' startup, iRxReminder, began as an offshoot of another venture: Creative Action, a company Sterns created with his parents. Now, as CEO of iRxReminder, a service providing real-time mobile data capture for clinical trials, Sterns is inspired by lessons he learned from working with family. "I learned how to build a team and bring a product to market through my experience with Creative Action," he said.

Sterns also worked to give the team at iRxReminder a family-like dynamic, even though the team members aren't related. "I emerge from a family environment, so I tend to work with people who I treat as family," he said. "There's a lot of love and respect, but we fight for our opinions."

For instance, Sterns said, team meetings take on the feeling of boisterous dinner-table debates. "We visit and consider a lot more ideas and people get to feel heard," he said. "What emerges is highly participatory environment where it's hard to know where ideas started and stopped."

Here are other entrepreneurial insights from Sterns:

Revisit old ideas -- Sterns occasionally reviews earlier versions of his business plan and PowerPoint presentations to revisit old ideas. Those early ideas might have been too far ahead of the curve at the time because, for instance, most people didn't have smart phones, he said. "Often we find people are ready for them now," Sterns said. "Our message can't be static."

Seek local recognition -- Cleveland-based iRxReminder received significant investments from the Ohio Third Frontier program and the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise, Sterns said. Garnering a stamp of approval from the company's own region, he said, helped iRxReminder attract national investors.

Be an educator -- Early on, the team at iRxReminder had to give customers smart mobile devices and educate them about their use, Sterns said. "Today, with about 76 percent of patients in our latest study proposal having their own mobile devices, that is no longer a problem," he said. But the company still sometimes plays the educator role, Sterns said, and waits for culture to catch up. "We're still educating healthcare organizations on in-the-moment data capture," he said.

Category:  Creation  Ideation  Tags:  Entrepreneur, Company Profiles, iRxReminder

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