Chad Price – Founder & CEO, Mako Medical

Chad Price is the founder and CEO of Mako Medical, which “serves as an industry leader on how laboratories should truly support patients and healthcare professionals. Details Matter! The Mako Medical Laboratories team is led by nationally renowned doctors who specialize in methodology development and pathological services. Mako Medical Laboratories’ facilities are equipped with state of the art robotics to ensure accuracy and precision with each sample. Also, each laboratory is outfitted with the industry’s leading LC-MS/MS, chemistry analyzer, and enzyme immunoassay technology.”

Tell us about the early days of Mako Medical.

The early days were rough. We started with no experience in healthcare, no training, no background in science or labs, and realized after we started we were now in one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the country. We started with two goals—disrupt healthcare and use the revenue we create to fund the charities and causes we were all passionate about. The latter saved us.

We underestimated everything. The time it would take getting customers, the money it would take to get started, the expertise needed to run a lab, the complexity of healthcare, and just how big our competitors truly were. A group of us sold what we could, borrowed what we could, and put everything into the start of Mako Medical. We rented a 3000 square-foot building, bought one piece of lab equipment, and hired one technician to help us run it. We used our personal cars to handle logistics, our personal phones to take calls, and personal computers to work on. We all worked around a conference room table and took turns doing building and roof repairs. Everything that could go wrong—went wrong. Equipment broke. Roof leaks. Water Leaks. Car accidents. Break-ins. Trailer being stolen. A/C going out. 12 hour days turned into 20 hour days. Christmas was a painting day and New Years was used to redo flooring. Holidays soon became catch up days and even our Coke machine was taken because we accidentally restocked it with Pepsi and Coke was not happy with us. If there was a check box for every mistake you can make in business—we made it. Vendors stealing, lawsuit, employees poached, equipment failure, running out of money, IT failures—all while trying to compete with multi-billion dollar companies.

What worked? The mission! We knew early on if we focused on making an impact in the community and got involved with local nonprofits—no matter how tough things got, we would always pushed through. Our entire team focused on causes and charities they were passionate about. We pooled together money to donate, volunteered, and did what we could to help. This became the fuel for our team and we pushed through every setback.

TV and internet stars make startups seem glamorous but no one talks about the struggle, or how close you come every week to quitting or going bankrupt. The culture of humility and giving back was what helped us work days without sleep, months without pay, and never giving up. We got creative. No one in the company had a title. We all worked around the conference room table. We delegated tasks based on skill set, not position. We built a brand around a shark and put it on everything we could. Everyone was treated like a owner and feedback from everyone was needed and expected. We ate together, did Bible study together, volunteered together, and always encouraged families to be apart so they would support what we were trying to build.

The first year was fun. We learned and made lots of mistakes. The second and third year were hell. The pressure and stress was extreme. The mistakes were bigger and the challenges were even more tough. Funding was a daily battle and the uncertainty of healthcare proved to be intense. The fourth year, things leveled out. Our processes were in place, we secured traditional financing, we had grown from a few employees to over 500, we had won 12 different awards, we were now supporting over 470 nonprofits and charities including over 80 Christian missionaries around the world, and had become known for hiring military veterans.

We now own almost every piece of lab equipment that is on the market and have a medical team that would rival the best hospitals in the world. We recently placed #284 on the Inc. 5000. A proud moment for our team.

What didn’t change. Our culture. Giving back and helping others is our primary focus. We still use no titles, everyone wears scrubs no matter what position they have, we all put big shark logos on our personal cars, we all work out of cubicles, we eat together, pray together, and still do Bible study. Holidays are still used for mopping and cleaning and our 18 hour days have now become 12. Looking back, we know that God has allowed us to come this far so we could use what we have built at Mako to make an impact in other people’s lives. No other explanation exists for how a team of 20 year olds who had no money, experience, training, or expertise could start and build a company that now rivals some of the largest healthcare companies in America.

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Interviews are conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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