Abram Liverio is a former medical device salesman who knew there had to be a better way to manage his schedule and track his cases in the operating room. Traditionally, salesmen in the industry use cumbersome methods like text messages, email and even fax to communicate surgery schedules. This inefficiency inspired Liverio to create OR TRAX, a scheduling app that links surgical facility schedules (minus the patients’ personal information) to the smart phones of medical device reps so they can easily cover their cases.
How did you get started with your business?
My business partner and I didn’t have this huge epiphany. We actually took a page from “The 4-Hour Workweek” that said, “Look internally and find ideas that would or could make your life easier in your past or current career.”
We tossed around a few ideas. Once we found the one we thought had the most potential, we researched it on Google for about three months and saw that there wasn’t anything out there like this, so we decided to move forward.
How did you fund your business in the beginning? Have you taken on any additional funding since?
We’re completely bootstrapped. We turned down large investors in the beginning and did everything ourselves. We didn’t want to have to pay back what we borrowed plus interest. I like the idea of keeping everything as much in my power as possible. And I like the idea of keeping as much money in-house as possible.
Who was your first customer?
We got with a developer and developed a beta test. We went to a small surgery center that I had been doing business with in prior dealings. We sat down with them and explained the idea. They loved it, installed it and started doing beta testing. It went well, and it just took off.
Running the Business
How did you learn to run your business?
I’ve been in commission-based sales for almost all of my working career. When working for another guy based on commission, you’re going to work just as hard as if you were working for yourself. That teaches you to run your own business.
What was the biggest mistake you made in your first year?
A mistake was probably turning down investors in the very beginning. In the back of my mind, I still feel like that was the right decision. But in the start, it was difficult because we still had living and operational expenses. When you start, it really takes any business about 3 to 5 years to make any type of profit.
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What’s the smartest thing you did in the first year?
The smartest thing we did is to make sure we had enough capital for living and operational expenses for three years.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running your own business?
The most rewarding thing is that it’s mine – this thing that I created and nurtured and grew. Watching your idea go from a thought to becoming a reality in the physical world is very satisfying.
What’s the most difficult/challenging thing about running your own business?
The most difficult thing is getting other people to care about your business as much as you do. Really, it’s about getting in front of those upper-level execs, because once they see our idea and our product, it’s an efficiency no-brainer. The most challenging thing is getting those meetings.
What’s the most surprising thing about running your own business?
I don’t know that anything surprises me. I knew it was going to be a difficult journey, but it was going to be worth it.
What business owner or entrepreneur do you admire most? Who is your role model?
If I had to choose one, I’d say my father. He’s the one I admire most. He taught me to be fearless and to go around, over and through any obstacle.
What I’ve Learned
What advice do you have for others starting their own business?
Something that helped me a lot was to keep a daily business journal. It will help your idea grow. It will also help you reflect back and see where you started. It keeps a timeline of where you are now and where you are going.
And, as cliché as it sounds, never give up. Perseverance pays off.
What do you wish you had known before starting your business?
If you’re going into an industry that you’re familiar with and you think you have friends in that industry, you really don’t. Just be prepared for that. People are nice to you in the field until you start asking for things. Then they’re not so nice!
About the Author — Ashley Sweren is a freelance marketing writer and editor. She owns her own small business, Firework Writing, located in San Jose, California.