Swimming with Sharks

| January 21, 2014

Honored that the College of American Pathologists allowed me to blog on CAPconnect (membership required) to “pitch” this story to fellow pathologists in our member community under the above title.  The College was kind enough to find a video of Dr. Lewis on his episode of Shark Tank and the negotiations. There are a couple of twist and turns in the short segment worth watching including a rare event on this program – an entrepeneur asking two sharks to go in together and the result.

A forensic pathologist was featured on a recent episode of the ABC show Shark Tank. The way he pitched his product to the judges, as well as his entrepreneurial approach, impressed me on many levels. As pathologists, we are facing some significant challenges (choppy waters, if you will) right now: reimbursement pressures, regulatory pressures, and health care reform changes, just to name a few.

So, Dr. James Lewis—a pathologist as well as a self-described “wall doctor” from Chester County, PA—has a “prescription” for fixing a hole in walls. As he relayed to the judges, the idea took shape as he carried a Christmas tree up the basement stairs. As he was ascending, his daughter took a tumble nearby. Dr. Lewis dropped the tree and ran to patch her up.

She was fine. But the house didn’t fare so well—the tree’s stem punched a two-inch hole in the brand-new drywall. The repairman took three weeks to arrive, left a mess, and then charged $350 for the fix. “I’m going to invent something that puts you out of business,” Dr. Lewis recalled saying.

The contractor laughed, but the doctor got to work. The result: he developed Wall Rx, a user-friendly drywall repair kit now on sale in 1,700 Lowes stores (for approximately $6). “I had to find a way to make it easy, make it clean…and make it inexpensive,” the doctor- entrepreneur explained. “Some people search for mechanisms to do that. I searched for the materials to do that.”

Did he hook a shark? He did—although only after some intense negotiations (see video below, @ 11:00). But his pitch to the sharks stuck to three elements: he was able to articulate his product’s value proposition in 90 seconds or less; he was able to convince the sharks that he could execute, and he knew his numbers.

I see this approach being successful in many challenging situations we now face. We need to impress our value before our practice leaders, our hospital’s C-Suite, and even lawmakers. None of whom have much time, and all of whom are being pulled in endless directions.

So, we need to succinctly articulate our value to patients and health care delivery (in 90 seconds or less?), with numbers and data to support and detail our value, and ensure that we can execute.

How would you make this “pitch” to the “sharks” that you face?



Category: Business, Humor, Pathology News

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