CEO and founder of Kela Medical Inc.
Location: Whitby, ON
Arjun Kumar grew up wanting to be a physician, but he also had a knack for technology and a keen interest in business. These three factors converged when his grandfather, who was travelling in Florida, suddenly needed access to his medical records. Kumar was so frustrated by the cumbersome process of obtaining the documents (and subsequently faxing them to the relative) that he started thinking of better ways to do it. Thus was born Kela Medical, which provides patients with microchip-enabled smartcards encrypted with their comprehensive personal health records. (The firm also provides electronic medical-records implementation services to private health-care practices.) In the two years since Kela Medical launched, Kumar has methodically worked to gain the support of key advocates, including Ontario government officials and hospital executives. As a result, revenue projections for 2011 and beyond are bullish. But Kumar is more excited by the prospect of accomplishing his most important goal: to reduce the 24,000 Canadian deaths per year that can be attributed to incomplete or missing medical records. “I always had an interest in the business world, and I have been able to combine that with technology and what I know best, health care,” says Kumar. “I’ve found a way to reach my goals and excite my passion.”
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Business cannot be taken personally. When you start a company, it feels like you have given birth to a child; you are very protective of it. It is upsetting to hear negative things about your business, and it can cloud your judgment in making the right decisions. You have to really put yourself in the other person’s shoes. For instance, when people don’t want to invest in your company, it doesn’t mean that you have a bad idea; it most likely is based on a non-emotional formula that the investor is looking for.
What is your best advice for young entrepreneurs?
You really don’t need to hit a home run your first time at bat. Consistently hitting singles will add up. Remembering this will help keep expectations realistic. And before you know it, your business will have grown to a level that you have only dreamt of.
What can governments, institutions and other businesses do to better support young entrepreneurs?
It is very difficult for a young entrepreneur to access funding, even with a phenomenal offering, without understanding how the funding system works. After failing at obtaining funding you learn this, but it can be very discouraging. Programs similar to the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program [which helps businesses test innovative products and services within the federal government before commercialization] should be created to help young entrepreneurs access government programs.