Launch and Learn: Starting a Company During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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startup company with a sign for turning ideas into reality

Picture this. It’s March 2020 and the world is locking down. Restaurants are closing their doors, corporations are making sweeping cuts, and the future of business is more uncertain than ever.

Most people went straight for the booze and pajamas— not Jerry Gross. What does he do? Jerry starts gearing up to launch a new company.

Throughout a time of unprecedented uncertainty, and a business climate that would send most running for the hills, Jerry continues marching forward towards the launch of a new healthcare company.

Jerry went to market with the launch of Vytal in April 2021, alongside his co-founder, Aaron Ferguson.

Jerry credits his perseverance to the Vytal launch to three factors — his continuous learning mindset, his deep belief in innovation, and his passion for the cause. We sat down with Jerry to dig into each of these components to learn more about his formula for success.

Launch and learn philosophy

Most entrepreneurs wait to take action because they want to have all of the answers before they venture out. But as a business professional of 20 years, Jerry knows that being completely ready is a pipe dream. He believes that there is a sweet spot between having a solution that is built out enough to test your hypothesis, without waiting until everything is 100% fleshed out, and that the Vytal launch was right in the middle of that intersection.

From his perspective, the ideology shift comes from knowing that it is not a matter of if you will have to pivot from your original plan, but when. And this is even more true now during the pandemic than it was previously, given how much has changed in the last year — whether or not you had a plan previously — after the COVID-19 pandemic, you changed your plans.

According to Jerry, “the pandemic has forced us into doing things we would have never considered previously and in that regard, I feel like the pandemic was the best time to launch a transformative digital startup.”

Leading with innovation

Healthcare has the connotation of being resistant to change and slow to innovate, but the pandemic has flipped that notion on its head.

Particularly now, in a post-pandemic world, the industry needs to stay current with its innovation. Customers get used to a level of convenience with all of the tech they’ve utilized over the past year, and they don’t want to go back to the old, friction-filled process.

Passion for improved patient outcomes

Pandemic or not, starting a business at any time is a difficult task. Jerry gets his inspiration and motivation from the idea that he is improving the experience patients have when trying to receive their medication. In today’s Amazon world, we are able to receive everything we need in 48 hours or less, except for medication, a product that is often the most vital to our health. Vytal is passionate about helping give customers control of their healthcare decisions, and increased access to reliable solutions.

In Jerry’s own words, “I’ve been in eCommerce and tech where the products made a ton of money. But in my career, healthcare meant patients would come up and hug me, thank me for improving their life. More meaningful than anything. That technology saved my life.”

While I have been an innovator my whole career, what keeps me working hard every day is knowing that we are giving patients more trust that they can access and receive the right care, all at a price that is affordable.

There is never a right time to launch a business

Jerry feels very lucky for the success he was able to achieve with the Vytal launch, and there are a lot of lessons we can learn from his experience. However, for the entrepreneurially inclined, there is never a perfect time to enter the market — you just have to try. As Jerry says, “In entrepreneurship, one must always have a focus on learning and experimentation. For me, it’s about learning fast and making it safe for your team to learn without fear of retaliation.”

At its core, businesses are created to solve problems. Start with the problem and understand every nuance you can about that problem. Then, see if you can find a solution. That solution can continue to evolve over time, but if have truly found an unaddressed gap in the market, your business has a chance of succeeding.

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