Last week, we gathered with over 50 community members to listen to Ryan Frederick, Principal of AWH, interview Nick Potts, Founder and CEO of ScriptDrop, for the February Startup Grind event. They discussed the successes and challenges Nick has faced as the founder of one of the fastest-growing and most successful startups in Ohio. The goal of Startup Grind is to educate, connect, and inspire entrepreneurs in the community. Nick did just that as he shared his vision to transform the healthcare industry and save lives.
Who is Nick outside of being a CEO?
Nick admits that all he does is work so “normal Nick” and “CEO Nick” are in fact the same person. The hobbies he does have he pursues through ScriptDrop. Whether that is coed sports or reserving time in the day for the consumption of books and articles. Here’s a fun fact that might surprise you, before founding ScriptDrop Nick tried his hand at being a standup comedian and even wrote a book while he was in college — both of which he claims to have failed at.
Nick doesn’t have an entrepreneurial background in his previous career or in his family life. What he learned from his parents was how to have a great work ethic. His mother was a cafeteria worker when he was growing up and his father laid carpet for a living. You would be surprised to find out that when Nick graduated high school, it was with a 1.8 GPA. Nick points out that, “anyone can be an entrepreneur if you know what you’re getting into and you commit everything to it.” Nick is a perfect example of that. He has committed everything he has to turn Scriptdrop into a successful company.
The window of opportunity
Startups are often compared to sports. Specifically, the concept behind having a window of opportunity. The big difference here is that a sports team is offered the same window of opportunity the next year, even if they failed in the previous year. There is a period of rebuilding and training and then they get to try again. A failed startup doesn’t often get another chance or do-over. What did this window of opportunity look like for ScriptDrop?
Nick tells us that during their seed round at Rev1 three years ago they were turned down by approximately 80 investors, a portion of whom tried to invest later. Nick’s philosophy on this matter is that if they didn’t see the value of his vision in the early days, then why would it be any different now. The timing, or window of opportunity, is huge for a startup. For ScriptDrop, the tide began to shift when Amazon bought PillPack because it signified to the market that you could build a multibillion-dollar technology company in the pharmacy space.
Strategic or opportunistic? The origins of ScriptDrop
Nick argues that for him, it was largely strategic. He’s the type of person that likes to latch onto a complex problem and then obsess over it. He thinks through the small details, collects feedback from his fellow executives and managers, and digs into the research. He doesn’t make decisions lightly and every problem is strategic and well thought out. As Nick puts it, “I am the type of person who will bang their head on the wall for long enough that eventually there’s progress.” He describes himself as being incredibly stubborn and he’s confident that his stubbornness is a major strength for him as a founder.
What problem is ScriptDrop solving for?
While working at CoverMyMeds, Nick realized that medication abandonment is a significant issue. If a patient drops off their prescription and they are asked to come back at a later time or date to pick up that medication, there is a 25% chance the pharmacy will never see that patient again, and often, the medications that are being left behind are for serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. ScriptDrop makes medication more accessible by providing pharmacies with the ability to offer their patients delivery. First and foremost, ScriptDrop is a medication access company, it just happens to also be a technology company. They are providing the software and courier management system to make prescription delivery a reality.
The demographic ScriptDrop serves is a vulnerable population, with an average age of 72. This age group is often homebound because they either cannot drive or have had their license revoked — making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to get to the pharmacy to pick up the very medication that might save their life. Everyone at ScriptDrop feels incredibly passionate about serving this community and making a positive impact on many lives.
Is being a founder different than you thought it would be?
Nick replied to this question with a simple, “I don’t think I thought. I just dove in and figured it out after.” There is such a large percentage of startups that fail. Especially, technology startups. He admits that if he would have thought about it too much, he probably wouldn’t have started ScriptDrop at all. He described the decision process as “thoughtful ignorance.” They say a founder must have some type of ego to look at the data and facts, know that they are very likely to fail, and then do it anyway.
Nick could have chosen a safe, steady career. In fact, if he had stayed with the first company he ever worked for, RentACar, he would probably be a regional manager by now. But Nick felt that the job lacked impact and purpose. He saw a problem and had a resulting idea to change the healthcare landscape and save people’s lives, and that purpose was too large and impactful for him to step away out of fear or a lack of stability.
ScriptDrop is already beginning to see its impact. They recently published a case study on a hospital in Baltimore where they were able to lower their abandonment rate by an astounding 88%. This data directly correlates with lives saved. They might not now know exactly who they have saved, but they know that people are alive and enjoying a better quality of life as a result of their services.
How do you get through some of the most challenging moments as a founder?
When things become challenging, Nick focuses on two things that he can control, his work ethic and his attitude. He shows up every day with the same level of optimism no matter what is happening within the organization. He holds himself to a high standard and firmly believes that if he’s not outgrowing the company then he’s not the right person to lead it.
As a leader, he says some of the toughest moments are when someone doesn’t work out. He originally had a co-founder who didn’t stay with the company for a variety of reasons including different communication styles, and an inability to commit the same time and effort that Nick was committing. For Nick, working 90 hours a week is a good week but for his cofounder it was unrealistic. He has a big family and needed more work-life balance. For Nick’s style of leadership, when someone isn’t a good fit, he often internalizes the loss as a personal failure.
When it comes to making big decisions, Nick cautions relying too much on one person or source. He recommends letting your network be just that — a network. The more people you glean advice from, the more data points you have to make a better, more informed decision. He also points out that a mentor doesn’t always have to be a person. Personally, Nick enjoys research and there are times where he has received better advice from an article than anyone in his network. Last, it is important to remain confident in your decision. It’s okay to take feedback and then make a different decision as long as you can defend your reasoning.
A focus on diversity and inclusion
When you are strategic and intentional about having a diverse workplace then it begins to take shape organically. ScriptDrop is celebrated as a diverse workplace with just under 100 employees and a diversity rate of 50%. Nick is especially proud that out of the 5 employees in the C suite three of them are women and he points out that many articles and case studies defend the claim that women make better leaders than men. He emphasizes the importance of keeping diversity and inclusion top of mind because it builds off itself.
Nick Potts has built an incredible company around a powerful and inspirational vision. We are incredibly proud and grateful to have been provided the opportunity to get to know Nick and ScriptDrop a little better. As Ryan puts it, “No one needs permission to be a founder or start a company if they identify a problem and believe they are capable of solving that problem,” and Nick proves that. If you’re interested in founding a company or you have a product in mind but don’t know how to build it, contact AWH. We are an elite team of product creators and data problem solvers.
Potts, Nick. (2020, February 18th). Interview with Frederick Ryan on behalf of Startup Grind.