Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in healthcare but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Abigail Hirsch, co-founder of Lin Health, a digital platform for chronic pain management based in Denver, Colorado.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Lin, we provide personalized pain relief care plans that are backed by scientifically-proven methods for treating chronic pain. We know what it's like to be in pain and be frustrated with your care. We also know what it's like to find relief. And we want to help everyone who's suffering from chronic pain find it too.
Tell us about yourself
Well, I’m a born and bred Colorado mountain girl. I love hiking and biking (I’m a lousy mountain biker, but I still love it). When I wasn’t outside, I was busy learning from my mom, a psychologist, and my dad, an entrepreneur. And I tried to be both. After many heart-to-hearts with mentors and myself, I decided to get a Ph.D. in psychology because I thought being an entrepreneur would be too stressful to do while also trying to raise a family.
But somehow, I founded my first company, a digital health tool for building relationships, right after finishing my degree. Since then, I helped launch a digital behavioral health tool (myStrength, exited to Livongo, now owned by Teledoc) and more recently started Lin Health, a digital integrative health platform for chronic pain.
True story, when we were looking for funding for this venture, we got asked by multiple MDs working with digital health venture capital companies, “Why would you ever want to work with THOSE people? They’re just seeking drugs or disability claims.”
I was shocked. I had never heard patients talked about in such a horrible manner. And, I am so excited to get to work every day with THOSE people. It turns out THOSE people are survivors, fighters, mothers, husbands. . . basically wonderful people who the medical community has not delivered for. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to wake up every day and know we get to keep helping people, many of whom have struggled for so long, finally get on the path to better.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I really am blown away by the successes that our members are making daily. I just reviewed the progress of someone who came to Lin for help with a broad set of pain syndromes, including Lupus, migraines and debilitating back pain. And for the first time in years, she’s gone two weeks without having a migraine.
What makes that so fascinating is that she actually did this with no medications. She’s just transformed her life in a whole bunch of little ways that have made a huge difference in both her quality of life and her quantity of pain. For me, seeing this kind of magic (of course, it’s not magic, it’s hard work with lots of support) is the most interesting thing ever.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There is one challenge that stands out for our online pain clinic. It can be challenging with technology to communicate that you care deeply for your patients. There's no way to warmly open a door or chat as you walk down a hallway before or after a session. Sometimes you can't see a person's entire body over Zoom, and one can easily miss signals.
At the same time, there are incredible opportunities that come with digital care. For example, most psychologists meet with their patients once a week max. But I'm convinced that this setup developed not because it is the best standard of care but because hour blocks are convenient for both psychologists and people who have to haul to appointments.
At Lin, we can be there for our members whenever they need us. By combining briefer, more focused live calls/Zoom sessions along with an always available multi-media messaging system, we can work with folks when they need us, not just over our arbitrary pre-set hour of the week.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Vision: have a clear idea of what you want to build. When we first started creating Lin, we knew we wanted to help people in pain. But how? After clarifying that we wanted to have a company with best-in-class digital health tools and genuine, compassionate people interacting with our users, we were ready to build the company.
- Empowerment: both of self and others. To build something from scratch requires a healthy dose of belief in your idea and the ability to execute it. But you can’t do it alone. Leaders inspire others to help power the ship and paddle with them with as much enthusiasm as possible. Motivating our employees to feel a part of building Lin has yielded some of our best features. One of our early employees helped us come up with our name. One day, we were discussing our value proposition - how we wanted to provide a place where people in pain could get the resources they need to get better. And while chatting, someone shouted out, “we are like a lin!” It turns out this word means the place at the bottom of the waterfall where all the water collects. It is the calm at the end of the storm where you can get what you need. I had never heard of the word before, but it was perfect.
- Humility: the flip side of the empowerment coin. It is crucial to try your absolute best to build your company in the way you think it should look. But we are all human. We all make mistakes. It is ok to try something and for it not to work out as planned. But being able to admit that, learn the proper lessons, and try something new and better will help you succeed. It will also help your teammates feel empowered to try new creative ideas themselves that might be better than the ones you came up with on your own.
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 email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.