From Classroom to Boardroom: The Founding of Opargo
Two students met while pursuing their MBA degrees at the Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. Dr. Aaron Lloyd was a full-time practicing physician and board-certified anesthesiologist. Paul Wiley was a travel technology executive in the airline industry.
Their challenge: how to optimize one industry by using the innovative technology that revolutionized the other.
Keep reading to hear Paul Wiley and Dr. Aaron Lloyd discuss how they turned an idea hatched in grad school into a company that is transforming the healthcare industry.
Paul Wiley: Most recently I was running the corporate division of Sabre. Our sister company was Travelocity, part of the B2B division of it. We did this type of thing actually for corporations on the airline side. Before that, I was with United Airlines and ran the corporate division of United Airlines.
Dr. Aaron Lloyd: I was working hard in my area of expertise, but we were having all sorts of struggles figuring out how to have good income for the providers and how to have stable income. I really wanted to be able to learn the language of business. That’s why I went to business school. I believe Opargo has the opportunity to do those things to optimize the needs of both the insurance companies, the providers, and the patients so that they all get better.
Paul Wiley: The spark of the idea was just us in class talking and saying, “Is this an opportunity?” Aaron started digging into the data and analytics and I was thinking, “OK, how does it actually work? How would it really be used within a practice? How do you make it so that it’s within the workflow, by building out these diagrams and this architecture flow from the patient and their needs to where we need to get them and pulling that all together?
Dr. Aaron Lloyd: The airline industry has made it so that getting from point A to point B is so painless that we’re surprised when we can’t get from here to, like when I was trying to get to Missoula, Montana, last year. It was actually harder than I thought it was going to be. That’s how good the airline industry has become.
For years, since there were some price issues, doctors were able to always be available and so that’s what patients were used to. When we started getting external pressures, then the ability for us to be as available to people decreased. That created a lot of dissatisfactions in healthcare and hopefully this product can bring that same idea of making seamlessly available healthcare out there through optimization a reality.
Paul Wiley: That was where we went to because there are always a ton of great ideas. The question is can you execute on them. And how hard is it to execute on them and can you leverage things you’ve already done to deliver the need. When did we come to the point that we knew this was something we wanted to pursue?
What was most interesting was when we were going through this process Aaron brought a bunch of his colleagues and friends in and we asked them, “Do you have this problem ad will this help your practice?” I would say an overwhelming “Yes” was what we heard back. And then the fact that we raised money very quickly off of it was when we felt the market was telling us that there was an opportunity here. That gave us confidence to say this is something we believe we can capitalize on.
We formed the company, we put some money together, we built some mock-ups. January 2013 is when we officially started. I would say it was more like January 2014 when we truly kicked off and said this is what we’re going to do and how we’re going to push this forward from a full-time perspective.
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