Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A. The MDSupplies proprietary “DirectConnect” technology connects customers directly to manufacturers and vendors for their personal and professional medical supplies. This eliminates the multiple levels of price increases seen in a traditional supply chain. The customers typically see savings of 50% or more on the same name brand products they are already purchasing. MDSupplies is an online medical supply store and is accessible worldwide through any internet connection. Because the products ship directly from the manufacturers, there is no need for multiple warehouses or salespeople. MDSupplies has offices throughout the United States, including Florida and Colorado.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A. Brad Reeser, a Founding Partner of MDSupplies and Service.
The principals of MDSupplies also own and operate several other software applications that are integrated together; including physician dispensing, pharmaceutical billing and collection, urine drug testing and prescription drug monitoring program reporting.
All software applications are web based applications, so they only require a web browser and Internet connection. No special software installations are needed. For security, all access is through a HTTPS-enabled site, and users have the ability to limit various locations from which someone can log in to the system. The applications have multi-site architecture, so that customers or managers and doctors can operate from more than one location.
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A. The traditional supply chain model used by health care professionals (and consumers) is unnecessarily complex. Typically, supplies travel through as many as 3 or 4 different hands and price level increases before they get to the buyer. The MDSupplies “DirectConnect” website connects the customer directly with the manufacturers, eliminating time and confusion and all those levels of price increases. It really can be this simple for customers to purchase medical supplies.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A. If you see a problem that exits, find a solution for it. Most successful businesses offer a solution to a wide spread problem within an industry. With the case of MDSupplies, the industry problem was unnecessary market confusion, high prices, and buyers not fully understanding what they were paying for. Traditional medical supplies sales people purposely keep the buyers on edge by not allowing them to fully be kept abreast of quantities, brands, and other characteristics of their supplies they are purchasing. The other issue with the traditional supply chain is that distributors are trying to offer as wide as range of products as possible to their customers. Often these additional products were outside their scope of expertise and resulted in the customers paying much higher prices for these specific products – for the convenience of trying to order through a single local distributor. With MDSupplies, each manufacturer and vendor specializes in their own subset of products. The example we give is like you purchasing a car radio for your vehicle from your local tire repair shop. It doesn’t make sense, knowing that there are radio and electronic stores that specialize in these types of products and offer lower prices, more options, and specialized expertise.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. Leadership, Perseverance, and Motivation. In order for a person or company to be successful, a good leader must motivate others to do their best, with the ultimate goal of success for the company. The perseverance and motivation with people to keep trying often slows as time passes, but these 2 traits are critical to maintain, and see tasks through to their completeness.
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
A. The work never stops with a startup. Not just myself, but everyone involved with a startup continuously work: checking emails, responding to requests, and “putting out fires” throughout the day and evening.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. Self-motivation. While the financial part of a successful business is good, the idea of changing an industry, improving a supply chain process and making the ordering process and financial burden of ordering and receiving medical supplies easier for our customers is what motivates me and everyone involved with our business, every day.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. When we first launched MDSupplies, we spent a lot of effort and money on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, such as Google Adwords. We realized while this was beneficial in the short term, we also needed to think long term. We have since made a strong shift to focusing more on natural SEO and overall building of our reputation in the industry. This is better sustainability for us as a company. But also, as we continuously improve our natural SEO, our website and user interface is continuously improving for our customers.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A. MDSupplies is 100% self-funded. We do not have any outside investors.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A.We believe the best way to achieve long term success is by giving our customers something they are both excited about and helps them solve a problem at the same time. Much like Amazon’s success, we are quickly becoming known as the place online to locate and buy medical supplies, all very easily and at much lower prices than ever seen in the market. The additional benefit of our customers saving on average 50% financially also helps ensure our success, and that customers keep coming back.
Q. Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. We intend on continuing to grow, very rapidly. Our intentions are to become the internet’s go to website for any and all types of supplies, not just medical; but also janitorial, lifeguard, emergency response, governmental supplies to name a few. And it is important for us and that our customers know we are a manufacturer-direct marketplace.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A. I think everyone has to admire what Amazon has done to the retail space. They were a real game changer when they launched in 1994. At the time, they had many critics but Jeff Bezos stuck with this plan. Not only does Amazon offer millions and millions of products all through a single checkout (like MDSupplies is doing). But they have changed the expectations of customers in regards to shipping times and how quickly customers receive their orders. Companies like Amazon have set the stage for MDSupplies, and demonstrated that just as technology continuously improves, so can supply chains.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. Very important. Finding dependable and motivated employees to get involved with the company is crucial. Financial incentives work for a lot of people, but there are other motivations people have also. Determining what motivates people is key to their success, and ultimately your success.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. That depends on the idea. It is important to be flexible and adapt to situations as they arise. But, if the overall idea is still applicable, and still solves a problem, it needs to be seen through to completion.
Q. What motivates you?
A. What motivates one person doesn’t always motivate another person. In my case, the idea of changing an age-old medical supply chain industry motivates me.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
A. I think most entrepreneurs are always thinking about how to solve a problem, or how to improve something. This way of thinking starts at a young age, and continues through adult-hood. If I struggle with something, I usually wonder if there is a better way to do it. An easier way. A simpler way.
Q. How do you define success?
A. Success is not just defined financially. Success is happiness and the ability to do what you love every day. You often do not hear successful entrepreneurs refer to their daily activities as work, it is because they love what they do and don’t consider it work.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. Advertising always is a good way to start building a customer base, but ultimately word of mouth and reputations wins out. It is important to make every customer feel special and that you are there for them and their individual needs.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. The ability to make a change. A change to a process or a way of doing something. The ability to make people’s life easier and more enjoyable, all while saving them money.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. An entrepreneur has to be involved with all aspects of the business. They must be aware of and in the know-how of every area associated with the business. This doesn’t mean that they don’t trust others to do their role. It doesn’t mean they have to micro manage employees. It just means they have to have knowledge in everything from supply chain to accounting to marketing.
Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
A. The culture at MDSupplies is relaxed, motivated, and independent. Most of our people work remotely, either from home or from a small local office in their city. But while no one has management looking over their shoulders, they know it is important to contribute to the company and continue to help it grow, in any way possible.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A. I probably would not change anything. Everything I have experienced has got me to the point I am at now. Experience is something that cannot be bought. I spent the first half of my career working for big businesses, such as General Motors and General Dynamics. The experience of these types of corporate companies contributed greatly to helping build a startup.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. I think everyone knows being involved with a startup can be financially difficult at the beginning. So, in that aspect every successful entrepreneur expects some difficulties at the start.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A. Fear is a difficult thing to deal with for many people. With fear, it is important to know and to believe that you can handle anything that comes your way. Once you believe that you can handle extreme situations, the fear goes away and the excitement and motivation take over.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. There are a lot of inspirations I have. But, I always think back to a few words of wisdoms I received. Someone once told me, “No use in putting it off until tomorrow, get it done today. As there will be more things to do tomorrow”. With every new day, comes new things to do, new tasks and new activities. See to it that everything you start gets finished. Finish it today. Don’t put it off until tomorrow – tomorrow never comes. The old cliché!
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A. Choosing the right business partners is crucial. I once got involved with an international restaurant and bar, and one of the business partners turned out to be a crook.
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A. Do your research first. Research the idea. Research the market. Research your potential business partners. Research the laws. Make sure everything checks out before you dive into the project.