Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jonathan Hunt-Glassman, co-founder, and CEO of Oar Health, located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Oar Health is a digital recovery platform for people who want to change their relationships with alcohol. We believe that every person who wants to drink less or quit entirely deserves the simplest path to recovery that works for them, so we provide evidence-based tools on a private, convenient and cost-effective platform.
Our members get expert, empathetic care from doctors and nurse practitioners. Many members are prescribed medication that can help them cut back or quit drinking, and we provide free delivery in discreet packaging. They also get access to an app that they can use to set goals, reflect on the work needed to achieve them, and celebrate progress.
Oar is an approachable place to start for the millions of people struggling with alcohol use who feel left out by traditional treatment options. Fifteen million Americans struggle with alcohol use disorder, but less than 10% of them get any form of treatment. Less than 5% are prescribed one of the three medications approved by the FDA to treat alcohol problems. We exist to help close the gaps.
Tell us about yourself
I started Oar because I struggled with alcohol use disorder for nearly my entire adult life. I drank on binges, blacked out, made poor decisions, and damaged the most important relationships in my life. The turning point for me was connecting with a primary care physician who specialized in treating patients struggling with addiction. He supported my goal of moderation rather than abstinence from alcohol and suggested naltrexone, a prescription medication, as a treatment option. That combination was transformational for me. When I have a drink now, I still enjoy it. But with naltrexone cooling off the pleasure and reward pathways that made alcohol so addictive for me, I am finally able to do what I always wanted to: have one or two drinks and then stop.
As grateful as I was for the help that I got, I was also shocked that I had worked in healthcare for so long and sought treatment in so many different places but never heard of prescription medication as an option. I started Oar because there are far too many people like me who are struggling to overcome an addiction and just need a little help to get started on their journeys.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment at Oar is helping thousands of people to begin their journeys toward better health and wellness by overcoming their addiction to alcohol. One of the best parts about a business like Oar is that we succeed when our members succeed. I think of the member who told us that Oar "has saved my life and marriage" or another who said that "I'm back to the mother I used to be. I'm so glad that I chose to take the initiative and stopped being ashamed to ask for help."
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing for me personally is recognizing that uncertainty, challenges, and setbacks are part of any business's evolution. When you are as committed to the business's mission as most business owners are, it's hard not to take the inevitable tough days personally. So, I constantly remind myself that no business success or failure can define who I am as a person.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do something you are passionate about. It takes years to build most businesses, so the mission, strategic challenges, and operational mechanics of making it work need to be renewable sources of energy for you if it's going to be a sustainable experience.
- Get customer feedback as soon as you can and listen carefully. It is rare, if not impossible, to have figured out all the answers in advance. So, testing concepts, prototypes, and iterations of your product or service with potential customers is an invaluable source of learning. We have found that the best guide to the tools and services we should add next to our platform is the insight and wisdom of our members.
- Hire the right leaders. A leadership team that complements your skillset while reinforcing your personal values will make your life much easier and your business much more successful.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If anyone reading this is thinking about changing their relationship with alcohol or has a friend or family member that they are concerned about, I would be happy to connect with them directly. They can contact me through Oar's website: https://www.oarhealth.com/our-story.
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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