Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennie Shulkin, Co-Founder and CEO of Override, located in Gladwyne, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Override bridges the gaps in traditionally fragmented chronic pain care by giving patients a team of chronic pain-trained specialists (consisting of a physician, physical therapist, licensed behavioral health worker, and coach) who individually treat the patient and also collaborate with each other to help the patient meet their pain-related goals and become self-managers of their own condition – without opioids.
Override works alongside health systems, provider groups, and workers’ comp carriers who want to offer a more comprehensive approach to chronic pain care for the lives that they manage.
Tell us about yourself
I was a competitive tennis and squash player with dreams of being a federal prosecutor. Chronic pain struck me when I was in college after two head injuries. But I kept pursuing my professional dreams – graduating from Harvard Law school and beginning a career as a criminal attorney. All the while, I still had a part-time job managing my own chronic pain. I am very personally connected to the mission, and this is why I pivoted career paths.
There are countless providers and companies focusing on the low-hanging fruit: people with acute pain. That’s where traditional care excels – injections, surgeries, painkillers. It’s a chronic pain patient like me who is told they’re out of options, forgotten about, and thrown away as too complex. Override exists to serve them. So that’s what drives me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Even as a first-time founder without any prior business or healthcare experience, I’ve capably led Override as we raised a seed round with best-in-breed healthcare investors, acquired a coaching company, launched our offering in a handful of states, and built an approximately 20-person team of people who believe in our visions and are committed to Override’s mission.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being a business owner – especially of a venture-backed company – is unlike any other job. There is no rulebook to follow, and hard work does not guarantee results. After getting to know other founders and CEOs, I’ve learned that loneliness and a certain level of anxiety are inherent parts of the job. When there’s a problem, you yourself often have to handle it. Your employees may take off Presidents’ Day or Columbus Day, but CEOs don’t, and there is no such thing as being truly “off the clock.” Running a company requires a special level of responsibility, commitment, and bravery.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Talk to other entrepreneurs first. Entrepreneurship may seem glamorous, but it is also one of the hardest things you will ever do (although certainly not harder than having chronic pain…). Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you jump headfirst.
- Make sure you already have a team of people around you who you know are committed to the mission and on whom you can rely. Of course, you can always build a team after you get the company started, but that leaves a lot to chance. Having the right people around you is the reason why companies succeed or fail.
- Don’t get stuck on but also don’t disregard the negative feedback and the people who point out problems with your business model, product, or anything else. They have a point, but they also know less about your business than you do. On the really hard decisions, listen to your gut and execute based on the vision you have for the company.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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