Learn about every aspect of the business and get involved at a deeper level – be prepared to roll up your sleeves and be the head cook or the dish washer.
Dr. Nancy Markley is an accomplished executive with 15+ years of experience in technology R&D and commercialization of technology products within start-ups and public companies. She held senior management positions with SemBioSys Genetics Inc. as Director of Business Development, and Botaneco Specialty Ingredients Inc. as Managing Director, before launching her own technology consulting practice and medical device company MPowrx™ Health and Wellness Products 2012 Inc., which currently sells its products in 85+ countries worldwide. She led the development of MPowrx™’s products, financing, and expansion into international markets, in addition to creating the foundation for continued global growth. Dr. Markley holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology, and is a Certified Management Consultant from CMC Canada, recognizing her contributions to advising start-up companies on how to develop and bring technologies and product to market. Dr. Markley also has numerous honors and awards as well as peer reviewed publications recognizing her work in medical research.
When not working, Dr. Markley enjoys hiking, karate, gardening, skiing with her kids, and searching for the ultimate Thai restaurant.
Where did the idea for MPowRx Health and Wellness Products 2012 Inc come from?
I was born into a family of entrepreneurs and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. But it took me a good 15 years of preparation (university, postdoctoral fellowship and the “school of hard knocks” that is in the biotechnology industry) before I was ready to take the leap to start my own business. I was passionate about bringing to market products that could have a real impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Fortunately, one of the first products to come along was this amazing device invented by a local Calgary dentist, that treats sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea, which impacts a staggering number (hundreds of millions) of people worldwide. I jumped at the opportunity to bring this product to market, resigned from my full-time job and never looked back.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My company is not rooted in bricks and mortar. While our corporate headquarters are located in Calgary, Canada, our team is conveniently located around the globe, which enables us to best serve our customers wherever they may be. I don’t have a set daily schedule and that is the way I like it. Some days, I start at 7, 8 or 9 am. Other days, I start at 3:30 am.
As soon as I wake up, I check my email and deal with any high urgency matters that may have surfaced overnight. Then, I take my two dogs for a morning walk, grab a cup of coffee and head to my home office where the real work begins.
When I am in Calgary, I spend the day liaising with my team members by Skype or GoToMeeting, or at local co-working spaces (Calgary Technologies or The Commons). Sometimes I travel to meet with remote staff, suppliers or partners in the USA, Mexico, and other countries. While it can be hectic at times, I am most productive when I have a lot of things on the go and don’t settle into a routine.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It may sound boring, but when I look at new products to bring to market under our brand, I go through a multi-factor analysis to make sure it is a good fit with MPowrx™’s corporate brand — products that enhance health and wellness. It also has to have features and benefits that will allow the product to succeed. For anyone interested in working in the medical/health & wellness device space, I recommend developing a list of criteria that proves the idea would be economically viable before you decide to pursue it. Factors that I consider include: features, benefits, ability to patent, reputation of the inventor, the economics of the path to the market, and if the product meets an unmet need or addresses a marketplace gap.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Social Media is the most powerful form of marketing and market research the world has ever seen. Just when you thought we had it all with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn, a new social platform, WeChat, emerges that promises to revolutionize the way brands and people interact. WeChat users can do just about anything, including play games, send money to people, make video calls, order food, read the news, book a doctor appointment, and more. It’s basically China’s version of Facebook and over half a billion people use WeChat. One can only imagine how a platform like this can be used to build awareness for brands and reach more people worldwide than ever before.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I can easily multi-task across diverse disciplines: R&D, manufacturing, distribution, business development, sales and marketing, and financial accounting. I can move easily across each aspect, do a deep dive or stay high level, and be able to communicate with all stakeholders effectively.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst and best job that I ever had (all in one), was when I worked at a laundromat in my first year of University. It was long hours on my feet, and I had to deal with cranky customers and a not-so-friendly boss who had been working at this job for too many years. I was fortunate though to have a job to help pay for University. I met some really nice ladies (who were responsible for washing/drycleaning, ironing, and seamstress repair), who were not as fortunate as I was in being able to pursue a University education, and gained some valuable sales and customer service experience that serves me well in running my business today.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Finding the right business partners is key to success, and so if I could do it over today, I would have had those “hard discussions” with my business partners upfront to ensure that there was a good fit, and to ensure that I was working with people who were best positioned and committed to growing the business.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn about every aspect of the business and get involved at a deeper level – be prepared to roll up your sleeves and be the head cook or the dish washer. It shows your team that you are prepared to go the extra mile and it gives you insight into how your business works, so you can better understand strengths and weaknesses of the business and better navigate it forward.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I try not to take myself too seriously or do it all by myself. I recognized early on that it takes a whole community of people and organizations to build a successful company. I have tried to surround myself with the right people, from advisors who provide me with personal and business support, to employees and contractors who bring the gamut of know-how and capabilities that will enable the company to reach its goals.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the early bootstrapping phase, I needed to wear multiple hats out of necessity. However, as the business grew, I tried to keep the same level of engagement in the day-to-day operations and sometimes spread myself too thin. It was imperative for the sake of the business that I delegate more of the day-to-day responsibilities and put my trust and confidence in the team so that I could get back “on top of the business”.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I don’t have a business idea to give away so much as a business ethos. If you work in the medical/healthcare start-up space, be really above board, be compliant with regulations, and partner with the proper regulatory bodies so that you don’t hurt anyone – which is a real consequence if you “fail” in the medical space.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was more like the best $5.00 I spent recently. I identified a consultant through LinkedIn Premium that had a lot of skills and experiences that I was looking for to help move the company forward.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
There are a lot of good software solutions available to help companies run their businesses. I look for software solutions that easily integrate, that offer great customer service and that are economical. Software solutions are constantly evolving and so we update and add/remove software and web services as our company grows and expands. We try to be flexible and migrate to new solutions if necessary for efficiency, integration, or costs. One major service we use is the Google suite of tools like Google Docs and Google Drive.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Peter D. Johnston’s Negotiating with Giants: Get what you want against the odds. As an entrepreneur, especially in the startup phase, you may not be negotiating from a position of strength with various parties (investors, licensors, suppliers, etc). This book provides great tips and success stories that you may draw upon to better position yourself and negotiate a more favorable outcome.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I look to my kids, husband, staff, vendors, and advisors for inspiration and guidance in running my business. It is hard to pick one or two people who have had a predominant influence on my thinking, as it really takes a community of people to build and run a successful business. I have been fortunate to have a strong network of family, friends and business advisors supporting my journey as an entrepreneur.
Dr. Nancy Markley on Twitter: @drnancymarkley
MPowRx on Twitter: @MPowRx
Dr. Nancy Markley on LinkedIn:
MPowRx on LinkedIn:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.