If asked, most entrepreneurs will tell you that their business was their destiny, something they always felt compelled to do. While I always wondered what it would be like to own my own business, my journey to co-founding Dermadry started a bit differently than other stories: with a secret.
The secret that sparked an idea
In 2016, I was working in the banking industry, in your typical 9-to-5 and probably on the trajectory to a senior position when my friend Maxime Calouche confessed to me that he was suffering from a condition called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating—which impacts the lives of more than 365 million people around the world—is often characterized by wet palms, wet soles of the feet, sweat that consistently soaks through clothing, and frequent, often unwarranted sweating.
Those who experience hyperhidrosis, like Maxime, sweat more than is needed to cool the body, and while the effects aren’t physically harmful, they can cause severe social anxiety, embarrassment, depression, and isolation due to the taboo nature of the condition. In fact, people who sweat too much are four times more prone to have severe anxiety or depression. For my friend, hyperhidrosis had plagued his childhood and was now impacting his professional life.
But he had an idea. In his journey to find a cure, Maxime had stumbled upon an iontophoresis machine, a medical device that helps to stop excessive sweating by delivering small and mild electrical currents through the skin, disrupting the communication between sweat glands and nerve endings to temporarily stop excessive sweating.
The trouble was that this machine was expensive—too much so for the average person to purchase—and not available in Canada, where we live. Maxime set out to build his own, and in just a few days, he stopped sweating excessively for the first time in his life.
How sweat—or a lack of it—launched a business venture
There are two big ingredients to starting a successful business venture. The first, and most commonly understood, is that you have to find a problem that hasn’t been solved and solve it. For me, the perhaps more important ingredient is being empathetic, being somebody who wants to go out and help other people.
Maxime and I have always shared that second ingredient. When he came to me and asked if I wanted to start a business with him to help combat this huge pain in his life, something inside of me clicked. This was an opportunity not only to support my friend through an immense struggle, but also to work with him to potentially help millions of other people who were suffering in silence with the same condition.
I quit my day job and Maxime and I set to work building and marketing the Dermadry Anti-sweat Device.
Since then, we’ve helped free thousands of people from hyperhidrosis, giving them a chance to live their lives to the fullest. To support this on a long-term basis, we have continued to invest and reinvest in creating an affordable, efficient, and practical solution to help people who suffer from this condition, and that’s part of what keeps Dermadry successful. In the world of tech, you must always stay curious; that is the best way to both stay ahead of the competition, and to ensure that you’re always making a useful, accessible product. Maxime and I are always thinking about new ways to help those with hyperhidrosis, and we know that the best way for Dermadry to actually help as many people as possible is to keep the price as low as possible; that means we have to know the latest production techniques for the machine and its parts, and also the latest technologies.
Entrepreneurship isn’t ever easy, but there is a way to make it stick
Entrepreneurship is exciting—every day we have the opportunity to help people, to solve problems, and to learn new technologies and methodologies for making healthcare solutions more accessible to people all over the world. But it isn’t always easy.
We all have those days when we wake up and we don’t want to go to work. That definitely happened back when I had a 9-to-5 in the banking industry, and in the many years prior to that. The way out of that, I have found, is to focus on the meaning behind your job, the purpose that drives you. When your job has a deeper meaning and a very intense purpose, it makes everything, even the obstacles you face, so much easier, because you’re motivated to stay focused. It also makes the lows—and believe me, owning a business comes many more difficult days than easy ones—much more bearable so that you can make it to the next adventure.
In the case of Dermadry, that driving force and purpose has been and always will be helping people. It started with helping Maxime five years ago and has grown into the opportunity to help millions of people. That gives me the extra motivation every day, even in the hardest moments of this amazing adventure, to get up, get moving, and make a difference.