Happy New Year, Nairobi Garage! We’re kicking off this year’s Zoom In feature with our January theme at Nairobi Garage, “Body, Mind, and Soul.” So what better way to get started on this theme than by spending some time with one of our resident healthcare entrepreneurs, Peter Park
Starting off a company from the ground up is indeed a taxing task, and is a marathon, not a sprint. In this feature, we talk about the process of aligning body, mind, and soul in the entrepreneurial journey, and some tips for following through on those New Year’s Resolutions for 2018!
I’m the founder and CEO of ConnectHealth, a digital health startup based in Nairobi. We’re building a paid healthcare messaging app for doctors and their patients. It’s used for online health consultations and follow-up visits without having to go to the clinic. It feels a lot like WhatsApp.
I’m originally from the beautiful hamlet of Bloomington, Indiana in the US, but my wife is Kenyan and half our family is here, so we’re Kenyans now. Until I started ConnectHealth, I was working on HIV care with an academic medical partnership in Eldoret called AMPATH, and wind & solar development back in the States.
I’ve been working in healthcare in Kenya since 2003, and before ConnectHealth, I worked with a lot of doctors in various areas of healthcare delivery in western Kenya – health financing, tertiary care programs, population health, and social work & safety net programs for HIV control. One thing I noticed was that all of my colleagues kept receiving WhatsApp messages from their private clinics, but would often stop short of completing consultations over their app since it would eat into their business. They could communicate with clients remotely, but the billing office was still at the clinic.
At the same time, we learned patients were more than willing to pay for remote services as long as they could be in contact with the doctor they know and trust, and not some random stranger. So we created a messenger app with a cool M-PESA integration so doctors can extend a “professional messenger” line for patients and roll it into their practice as a billable service. Our hope is that this will make healthcare a little more accessible and convenient, and be a useful part of healthcare delivery in Kenya.
We’re still in pilot stage with just a handful of doctors, but we’ve definitely saved a few people’s lives already and helped avoid serious complications. The feedback we’ve gotten from these clients has been super gratifying.
I think if you’ve never encountered challenges as an entrepreneur you are either lying or you’re lucky or you’re truly exceptional and I’m none of the three (laughs). Every week there’s a WFIO moment, but you realize that it’s part of the journey. I’ve gotten a lot better about just being resilient and to move forward regardless of the setback
Yeah, I do actually! As an entrepreneur, I think if you can’t manage yourself, you definitely won’t be effective managing your team or your business. So not prioritizing that is a disservice to your users, your team, and your stakeholders. For me, it starts with having consistent daily rituals that support mind, body, and spirit and give you some internal wins you can carry throughout the day regardless of what comes. So for me, a great start to the day is when I:
I find praying & journaling are awesome for priming one part of your mind & spirit, and running & meditating are great for another part of your mind & spirit (and body). And it doesn’t take much time – everything up to making breakfast takes a total of like 20-30 minutes unless I go for a longer run.
I try to run every day because it sets all of my other habits in line to be consistent. So far, I’ve run for more than 120 days in row and still going.
For me it’s running, but anything that gets your body moving and changes your state is great. I hate cars & traffic honestly so that’s why I try to run or bike to work. I know it’s a little weird when people see me running to the office with a button-up shirt & shorts on, but it’s nice to be a little weird! And I know that when I’m running, the people in cars stuck in the jam envy me (laughs).
It’s funny, I actually divide my 2018 resolutions into mind resolutions, body resolutions, and spirit resolutions. I use a Google Doc called “2018” to write down goals that I’d like to achieve and have it pinned as a bookmark on my Chrome browser.
What’s worked best for me is actually having a system to help follow through and track my progress. So on the first day of each new month, I get away from daily work and usually go to Karura or a coffee shop and review my 2018 sheet. If you’re familiar with sprint/agile for building apps, it’s kind of like a monthly retrospective for your life.
I know this is super geeky, actually all of this probably super geeky, but I colour code my resolutions into three main colours (smiles): red, green and yellow, and I update that each month. Green means I’m on track with my resolution, yellow means it’s in danger of slipping so I need to focus on it more for the upcoming month, and red means I’m like totally off the rails. I also have a purple strikethrough one for goals that just kind of suck and I don’t want to do anymore (laughs).
I think this exercise is super good for entrepreneurs who are really into the grind every day, because it forces you to step out of your day and look back a bit on your progress as an individual. It helped me make real, tangible, and mindful progress toward my goals. It worked great for me last year, and looking forward to doing it again in 2018.
So now you know what I’ll be doing on February 1st now ☺
Beer. Tastes awesome! It’s good for the body, AND is good for the mind and soul ☺
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