Our writers sat down with one of the CULaunch finalists to discuss insights to his ideas and what he hopes to accomplish moving forward.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Christian Albano. Currently, I am an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Administration at Concordia University Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, and have teaching and research experience in pharmacy education, healthcare systems, management, health economics, research design/methods, public/population health, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. Also, I have become an advocate for public health education, and have been instrumental in the development of public health programs and curriculum [e.g., Master’s in Public Health (MPH)]. My research encompasses various areas of pharmacy education, health services research, public health, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Working with local and national public health organizations, I have collaborated with various pharmacy schools and faculty on educational, advocacy, and policy activities. I received my BS in Kinesiology (exercise physiology) from University of Illinois at Chicago; MS in Education (thesis/research in exercise physiology), Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science (thesis/research in Parkinson’s disease and substance abuse), and MBA (generalist MBA) from North Dakota State University; and an MPH (thesis/research in tobacco control and policy) from the University of Minnesota.
Tell us about your idea.
We established MedSync-Rx in January 2016 in response to an identified need for more effective and efficient synchronization of medication prescribing, dispensing, and patient use. Based on problems recognized with the current system of medication management and its market structure, Brian Trinh and I conceptualized a mobile application to address these inadequacies. In August 2016, Dr. Sharon Chappy joined the company, and the team conceptualized additional mobile applications to further enhance patient-centered care. These applications include: (a) care planning check-and-balance activities during acute and episodic hospital stays, (b) immunization and other preventive health care service trackers for users and those for whom they care, (c) pet immunization and health service trackers and reminders, and (d) advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support trackers for healthcare practitioners. Currently, Trinh, Chappy, and I make up the executive team.
What drew you to Concordia?
I was impressed with the Christian, student-first, family-centric values of Concordia. Combine this with a teaching, progressive, and entrepreneurial spirit in education, business, and health, and Concordia is the right place for me.
How did you get into CULaunch?
After participating in I-CORPS of Southeastern Wisconsin, which is a joint project of five Milwaukee universities, awarded and organized by UWM, to accelerate commercialization of research ideas. Thereafter, the Batterman School of Business, led by Dr. Sem, was doing something comparable—helping and promoting entrepreneurs, encouraging entrepreneurship, and innovation and company development.
What were the challenges you faced?
Like many startups, we were faced with the daunting task of developing and funding our product, determining who are customers are, finding help and potential partners, and funders. A couple of books that are helpful are the “Disciplined Entrepreneur” (by Bill Aulet) and “Business Canvas” (BusinessModelGeneration.com) as well as the “Mom Test” (by Rob Fitzgerald).
How did you adjust to these challenges?
Brian and I funded and bootstrapped our product initially, then Dr. Sharon Chappy came on board, which gave us new enthusiasm and ideas, as well as a financial partner. Moreover, her additional ideas to our product and company make her an ideal partner. Both the UWM I-Corps and CULaunch both focused on customer discovery, including interviewing potential customers, understanding our customers, and narrowing down the target customer. I-Corps and CULaunch were instrumental in getting us over the hump in terms of fine-tuning our product and defining our customer segment.
What was it like to pitch?
I really enjoyed pitching; I can tell being an entrepreneur is my passion. Pitching was really important to the development of our product and company. Pitching is key to entrepreneurial success and an activity needed to move us forward. It also gives us practice in telling our story and giving that all important “elevator speech.”
What is the most important take away?
The quote “It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon” does not apply to certain things entrepreneurship or innovation. In fact, the reverse can be advantageous and a differentiator—some things are a sprint; like being first to market, or being the first to discover and patent!
Looking back, what would you have liked to tell yourself?
This quote on risks (adjusting to and managing risk) sums up what I would have liked to tell myself: “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” —Kurt Vonnegut
If you want to get involved with MedSync-Rx or contact any of the team members just contact us HERE and we will make sure to get you in touch with the team. Keep an eye on the blog for more exciting Q&A's with many of the other teams!