It is a sincerely unique experience (and equally addictive) to take a product from thought, to wireframes, and into reality. It also requires a great deal of flexibility between design, budget, and vision.
Immigrant. Empowered. Visionary. Oksana is a responsible citizen of society that aims to inspire the next generation of young women to take control of their life, health, and wellness.
She is a co-founder and majority owner of Social Health Registry (SHR), a company created in response to current trends of the swipe right dating culture in combination with continuously rising STD numbers.
SHR is a platform comprised exclusively of socially responsible individuals that subscribe to the theory that personal health and safety cannot be left to chance while living in the age of information. SHR is a web application that allows registered users to upload their STD/STI results, have them validated, and share their profile with potential sexual partners. The goal is to influence human behavior and encourage open conversations with sexual partners, more frequent STD/STI testing, and a more socially responsible community as a whole.
In February 2018, SHR was recognized as top 20 startups of the year at Global Conference 2018, organized by Startup Grind and backed by Google for Entrepreneurs. SHR was also featured in WTOP as a digital solution to asking about one’s STD status as well as in ABC7, recognizing that this might be the future of dating.
Oksana is originally from Ukraine and moved to the United States at the age of 19. She developed passion for technology when studying at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, from which she graduated with honors in 2015. While still working on her degree at GMU, Oksana landed a job with a technology firm where she stayed until forming SHR in 2017.
Oksana is a mother of two young girls and is determined to serve as an example to them, and others, demonstrating how to recognize the need and create a viable solution to a societal problem in the digital era.
Where did the idea for Social Health Registry come from?
The idea of verifying a potential partner’s STD status before sexual engagement came as an evolution of thought. Pre-smartphone era, SHR was originally envisioned as a bartop, nightclub “kiosk” where patrons that were verified as ‘SHR,’ could access their account using their User ID/ pin and show their SHR status. This of course, evolved into the mobile-responsive web application that exists today.
Strategically positioning SHR to be mobilized by the hashtag movement, while leveraging the growing awareness/concern for social responsibility and individual health was a mix of perfect timing and truly creative marketing. As the founding team with a strong background in scaling global SaaS solutions, we noticed the trends in growing popularity of dating platforms as well as climbing numbers of STD infections, as reported by CDC. We saw that there was no mechanism for ensuring that your potential partner is a responsible individual who takes his/her sexual health seriously by getting regular screenings for STDs, but we also knew, from a technology perspective, it was highly feasible. There was a digital problem that required a digital solution. ‘Knowing your status’ campaigns were clearly ineffective in a post-digital age – SHR is all about showing your status and promoting an open conversation around your sexual health.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I think the reason why I find myself being a tech CEO today is because an idea of a typical day is really not my cup of tea. I enjoy it when every day is different, in both business and private worlds! I did start using a calendar system in 2018 that suggests that we are most productive when our prep/best/rest days’ ratio is balanced. So my days have pre-planned patterns of what kind of day it is. However, even days of the same kind are so drastically different from one another that I wouldn’t be able to name anything that stands out as typical.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Easy. When I get an idea I act upon it until it becomes reality. It is the insatiable desire to create technical solutions for societal challenges. It is a sincerely unique experience (and equally addictive) to take a product from thought, to wireframes, and into reality. It also requires a great deal of flexibility between design, budget, and vision.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Emphasis on the importance of self-love. All the successes in the world would not mean much if a person does not take the time to care for one’s physical, mental and spiritual self. So I am really excited to see more and more people advocating for and accepting the concept of loving oneself, in our communities, families and virtual worlds. When you love yourself, the community benefits. It is commonly agreed upon and speculated among our founding team that Social Technology (leveraging technology to address societal challenges) will be on the rise. Many investors are focused on Augmented Reality, AI, etc., I see those as essential mechanisms to push the boundaries of technology into new and unimaginable experiences for the user. Social Tech as an enterprise, to me, provides tangible value beyond dividends to stockholders; it will be the way future generations invest and let their dollars influence social impact.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Meditation. Being a CEO is being able to process a lot of noise. Meditation allows for inner self-reconnection, and clearing of the mind – an absolute must-do if you are aspiring to be the best possible version of yourself.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Other people’s opinion should not deter you from doing what feels right.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that humankind is heading in the general direction of self awareness and kindness towards one another – I find it really exciting. To my surprise, I have seen a lot of disagreement on this point from others.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always take any given new relationship with an open heart, expecting nothing but the best outcomes from it. If I am proven to be wrong and the person/organization is less that what I expected, I do not get offended, I simply acknowledge the fact and deal with that relationship in a different manner. Still, I do not let past failed relationships dictate how I feel about any future connections that I might make. Always with kindness and always expecting the best. I believe our attitudes attract more of the same, so if you expect to be let down every time you deal with someone, that is exactly what will happen.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I subscribe to the theory of the rule of 5 – if you do 5 things directed at your business’ growth every working day it is bound to pay off with satisfactory returns. Introducing yourself to 5 new relevant industry experts, reaching out to 5 potential partners, knocking out 5 things that were left over from the previous month as incompletes, these are just some of the examples of the kinds of things you can do.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My unwillingness to take the first step towards entrepreneurship was by far my biggest mistake to date. I used every possible avenue to justify to myself why my business would not work to delay the inevitable. To become successful, you need to step out into the unknown and for me that first step was the most difficult to take. To overcome this internal fear I used help of a number of self-motivational and developmental programs and books, all of which just re-confirmed something that I already knew – owning a business will and should feel unnerving and scary, otherwise you are not trying hard enough. I still feel uncertain on some days, but I no longer run from the feeling, instead I acknowledge it and keep charging ahead.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Airbnb grocery stock up fulfillment. I have used the site for both business and personal purposes and sometimes you just want to have your favorite snacks, beverages, staples like eggs and bacon, or cereal at the place where you will be staying already waiting for you when you arrive, eliminating the headache of dealing with buying groceries in unfamiliar places. A great integration point for Uber Eats, and AirBNB. Call it MyRider- (In theater, and musical performance, a rider is a set of requests or demands that a performer sets as criteria for performance. Types of riders include hospitality and technical.)
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I finally went to Michaels and got materials to make my very own vision board. It is now hanging in my bedroom where I see it everyday when I wake up and go to bed. I believe in the power of visualization. Seeing your goals laid out in this manner serves as a constant reminder about things you need to do in order to accomplish those goals. Definitely best $100 I spent recently.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack. It helps me keep all of the team collaboration in one place. My favorite feature is that you can slack yourself information for easy access. You can always retrieve it on the go, from your phone, doesn’t matter where you find yourself needing that information. So, yeah, highly recommend 🙂
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Principles: Life and Work” by Ray Dalio. It is a wonderful collection of best business practices as discovered, collected and summarized by the author from his own experience of creating, scaling and handing over his very successful Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund firm that currently manages $160 billion. Dalio provides an insightful look into how his business grew from a tiny startup into a multibillion dollar endeavor and how Bridgewater adjusted its principles along the way to keep up with such growth. Highly recommend to anyone who aspires to be a fearless leader of a successful organization!
What is your favorite quote?
I have two, but they kind of go hand in hand with one another.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford
“Risk it all or risk nothing – either way it’s a risk.” – Unknown
- Spending the time to formulate a vision and identifying patterns in daily routines pays off with increased productivity in the long run.
- A person needs to take the time for conscious self-reconnection. Meditation, physical exercise, self-improvement programs are some examples of how one can reconnect with his or her inner genius.
- Addressing a difficult situation head on, without putting it off for the fear that it will be uncomfortable to deal with, is the winning strategy.
- Do not be afraid of failures – chalk them up as lessons that provide insight into how to handle similar situations in the future and keep moving forward. EVERYBODY makes mistakes. The ability to get back up is the differentiator between successful people and not.
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