Insights From the Founder of Telemedicine Startup Bicycle Health

Bicycle Health founder.

Any entrepreneur can tell you, launching a startup is a learning process. Therefore, one of the best things you can do prior to launching a startup of your own is to learn from those who have blazed the trail. We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Ankit Gupta of Bicycle Health that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

“My biggest piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to get started as soon as they can. Entrepreneurship can take a lot of unexpected or disruptive turns, so it’s important to become well-versed in your field – and the knowledge is expansive. As someone who started his career in the tech industry but transitioned to the healthcare industry, I had a lot to learn and familiarize myself with. Although I have extensive knowledge on healthcare and delivering treatment for opioid addiction through telehealth, I still continue to research and learn more about the vast industry.

This is why I recommend having a beginner’s mindset to anything you want to tackle. The healthcare industry is always changing, so it’s critical to ask a lot of questions and conduct independent research. Even if you’ve been in the healthcare industry for a while, question your own assumptions; even if things have been done before, think of ways it can be done better; even if something appears crazy, think about how you can make it achievable.”

What is your advice for coming up with a unique startup idea?

“My biggest piece of advice for coming up with a unique startup idea is to take a predictive look into the future to see what would provide the most value to the problem you are trying to solve. For myself, the start of the pandemic made me quickly realize that telehealth was going to revolutionize nearly all industries – and specifically, telemedicine would revolutionize addiction treatment. When I was shadowing at the opioid treatment clinic, I learned that opioids are overprescribed and under-managed in the United States, as well as opioid use disorder medication [are] severely lacking, ultimately impacting far more than most realize. The first wave of telemedicine began with minor doctor’s visits, such as for a cold. But as the pandemic ensued and the federal government began allowing people to receive medicine through telehealth, I saw an opportunity to reach more people than ever, recognizing how sustainable a telemedicine model would be past the pandemic. I recommend finding something that has impact, continuing to build a network within the community, asking questions and learning from one another, and persistent research. Through these endeavors will one be able to connect the dots and find a unique startup idea that finds a solution to an unsolved problem.”

What is your advice for overcoming challenges and failure?

“The first step is to always have a growth mindset because challenges and failures are here to help me grow into a better person. Next, I try to understand the ‘why’ as much as possible. What is the key dynamic that makes a certain situation challenging, or why did we fail in our goal? Asking lots of questions (for example: five whys) and taking the time to do extensive research helps me get to the root cause. After that, I typically plan one or two experiments to solve that root cause if it’s something under my control. If it’s not under my control, I develop empathy for this challenge/failure and can more easily move on to spend my time on something else.”

What is the biggest lesson you learned and what can aspiring entrepreneurs take from it?

“The first version of Bicycle Health was quite different from what it is today. Initially, I was working with a technician to build technology tools to better improve how pain management is delivered and promote alternatives to pain management solutions rather than promote opioid prescriptions. When I tried selling these tools to healthcare leaders, I received a lot of pushback that had nothing to do with improving patient care. Rather, people were concerned about how these tools would make them more money, if it was worth their time to learn how to use these new tools, how it tracks patient medical records, and the potential security threats behind recording them, etc. People did not have patient-centered mindsets like I do. 

That’s when I realized that merely building technology is not enough. From the technology to its integration to company culture, I recognized that my biggest lesson learned was to build a full-stack business with the necessary technology to provide patients with complete care for opioid addiction and a team dedicated to utilizing technology to its fullest potential. When starting a business, I suggest creating a full-stack business because it allows you to control the entire value chain and save time, money, and become an expert in your industry and engage directly with the patient.”

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