Running an innovative and successful health-tech startup is no easy feat, and it definitely is not easy when you mix family, clinical practice, a pandemic, and all of the business of life in between. Finding a balance is tough but without it life is tougher.
Richard Sztramko is one of three physician co-founders of Arya Health, (our innovative and game-changing healthtech company disrupting the electronic medical records software space with our main product, Arya Electronic Health Records aka. Arya EHR).
Apart from being a Co-founder at Arya, Richard practices Geriatric and Internal Medicine at St. Peter’s and Juravinski Hospitals in Hamilton, Ontario, is an Assistant Professor at McMaster University, has served as the Chief Medical Officer of a publicly traded remote chronic disease management company called Reliq Health TSX:V (RHT), and currently consults for US-based Soteria Health. Additionally, he co-founded an award winning online education platform called www.igericare.ca to help caregivers of patients with dementia improve caregiver self-efficacy, which has been funded by Centres for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), the Alzheimer’s Society, and Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation. On top of these professional achievements he is a husband and father of two!
You may be asking, “how does he have time for it all?” Well, Rich answered this question and other related questions in a recent video interview with Darius Med. We have highlighted a few of these questions and his answers so you can hear exactly how Rich keeps everything balanced.
You are a co-founder of a rapidly growing health tech company, you're a father of two, you’re a clinician; how do you balance all these responsibilities?
Rich: It was more challenging before, just understanding that you can’t do all the things you want to. You have to say no, and set really strict boundaries. Before I would be working all weekend and become grumpy if things weren't going well. Now, I really protect my weekends; I'll be very efficient during the day, but I need to recharge my batteries on certain nights and on weekends to maintain a certain degree of passion for our business. However, my first priority in everything is my family, so my wife, my children, and my friends. If I'm not feeding that part appropriately then everything else will fall apart. Obviously you need to make your financial ends meet, and that's a really big part of this too. You’re taking away time that could be spent billing OHIP or MSP so you have to alter your financial expectations a little bit knowing that. I have friends that make quite a significant amount of money per year, but I remember that I'm on a different journey. Don't compare yourself to those other people. Then there is being smart with how you spend your time. I think there's people that celebrate themselves because they work a hundred and ten hours a week on their entrepreneurial endeavour but you can be busy spinning your wheels and be inefficient and not solving problems. You make yourself feel good and your ego feel good because you're working a lot but I don't really buy into that. I think that you can be very efficient and targeted with how you spend your time. This concept of time allocation ties into the people that you build your team with. You can build the right processes and they start to run themselves over time and be more automated so that you can spend time and focus on what you do. The last thing is the advantage of having three founders and 3 Co-CEOs that focus on slightly different things, but are really close and who can test each other's ideas quite quickly and can argue about stuff, but also get over it quite quickly. I focus a lot on operations, and business development. Rich Vandegriend focuses on sales, and Sam Gharbi focuses on product development.
Do you have any advice for anyone who's caught that entrepreneurial bug and has come up with an idea but may be struggling to take the next steps to execute?
Rich: Consider the slow play. If you want everything immediately you won’t provide yourself with enough time to make mistakes and learn the lessons that give you the skills to be successful. Always try to make the entrepreneurial journey consistent with your underlying goals; your larger life goals. You're in it for the long haul, it's not going to happen overnight; you're a 15-year overnight success. People see the success that happens but they don't understand all of the hours, work, energy and effort that went into the building in the background. I think that consistency is more valuable than intensity. You probably want to get out there and solve all of your problems right away but sometimes you'll start a process for solving a problem and it's going to take three months and instead of obsessing about that problem for three months understand that you can start something now and not going to be able to solve it or reassess it for another three months. So it gets placed on the back burner and makes you have to juggle the various problems that you're running into.
With A venture like this, did you have sleepless nights where you wondered what the heck did I get myself into; did this play a role?
Rich: Definitely, and I think that we all have different personality traits. I can be a little bit more on the neurotic side, wanting to control all the various details, but a startup is not a good place for that. It’s not like software development is straightforward either, there's always some sort of bug and glitch and you’re designing processes to make sure that that doesn't happen but invariably it's a human endeavour and you know this can cause problems. So definitely lots of sleepless nights and also just your self-doubt because I just took somebody's money so I really want to give them a reasonable return. Also how the company does reflects your personal character in some ways, there's always that tie to want the things that I put into the world to be great and I want them to help people. There are periods where I didn’t know if we were going to make this work or not, but now it's no question, so this is great. It took a long time to transition from being a little bit certain to very happy, content, and confident and I think that's an accelerant too. Once you reach that confidence stage there's no there's no stopping you.
Interested to hear more? Dr. Sztramko was recently interviewed on the Darius Med YouTube channel and you can see more of this Q&A there;
Also you can follow Dr. Sztramko here on LinkedIn;
Arya EHR is an electronic health record system built by physicians for physicians and it helps manage your patient records simply, intuitively, and efficiently. The technology used in providing healthcare is antiquated, slow, overly complex, and overpriced. Arya’s philosophy is to build technology for physicians that is beautiful, intuitive, easy to use, saves you headaches and saves you money. Interested in a demo, contact us at email@example.com or fill out our contact form at www.aryaehr.com/contact