Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nadeem Kassam, founder and CEO of Connect the Doc, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Every year millions of people in Canada and the United States move to new cities and need to find dentists and doctors that they can trust. Most of them will search Google for a 'Dentist Near Me'. At Connect the Doc, we help these prospective patients find the best dental (and other medical) practices. Our software as a service is set up to solicit feedback from existing patients with the goal of getting them to write Google reviews for the practice. As more dental and medical practices sign up for Connect the Doc, we hope our platform inspires medical practices to provide exceptional service so prospective patients can get the highest quality of care!

Tell us about yourself

My name is Nadeem Kassam, and I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. For university, I played tennis at a small college in Walla Walla, Washington, called Whitman College. On the day of my graduation in 2010, my dad, a dentist, called me up and told me that he might have to miss part of my graduation ceremony because he had an emergency patient. Without thinking too much, I told my dad to just "find another dentist and book an appointment online with them for your patient." I knew we did this for hotels and flights. Why couldn't we do this for medical appointments?

So Connect the Doc actually started as an online appointment booking platform for Canadians to find last-minute cancellations and book appointments. Over time as we began to dive deeper into the business, we learned that prospective patients rely heavily on reviews to make their decisions, so we focused our attention on building the best review platform for dentists.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think there are two big accomplishments that stand out to me. First, is having the patience and perseverance to build this company, which was completely bootstrapped, over the last ten years. I am proud to say that we have never had any venture or angel funding and have found a way to scratch and claw our way to profitability without any external investors.

The second thing I am proud of is how we handled COVID. In the three months following the outbreak in March 2020, we had lost about 50% of our recurring revenue. My only goal at the time was to keep our staff employed so they could continue to support their family and loved ones. I am really proud to say that none of my employees were furloughed. We managed to stay afloat during those difficult 6-9 months when dental practices were mostly closed and keeping their costs as low as possible.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I think the biggest challenge is coming to terms with the reality of the situation and then managing the risks vs. rewards. I believe that starting a business is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences, but it is not for everyone. You need to be 100% committed at all times and have to make so many sacrifices, which will most often have a negative impact on your friends and family in the short term.

You have to eat, sleep, and breathe your business until you "make it," and then you'll have a bit of room to breathe. Sometimes ideas don't work, and the business does not make sense. This happened to us when we started as an online appointment booking portal. In theory, it sounded great, and all of our surveys and focus groups loved it, but in practice, it did not work the way we intended it to. When we pivoted to focus on reputation management, it was a really difficult decision because I felt like I was giving up on my initial dream of Connect the Doc being an app that connects patients and doctors. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we needed to do something different. For me, it was a greater risk to continue going down that path than it was to make the pivot.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Sell, Sell, Sell - Before spending thousands of dollars building something, spend a small amount of time and money just selling your idea. Pretend you have it, sell it, and when they give you their credit card, let them know that you are still building the idea and that this is a deposit. The main goal is to find out your sales cycle and the reception of the product/service before you commit to spending all your time on something that may or may not work.
  2. Don't quit your job quite yet... While you are in the early stages of your business, you should keep your day job and work on your business before and after work. Save up enough money to be able to live for one year without your day job, and when the time is right, convert to being a full-time entrepreneur. Ideally, you would do this after you have proved to yourself that there is a market for your idea.
  3. Set Goals, Timelines, and Action Items - One of the biggest mistakes that I have made is not setting clear enough goals and timelines from the get-go. I've learned that it is really crucial to set a goal, have a timeline, and then set little mini action items that you need to do to help you reach your goals and timelines. It is often much easier to achieve your larger goals when you break things up into bite-size pieces.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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