Women-Owned Small Business Entrepreneur Series // Brianna of Find Your Ditto

Today we are featuring Brianna of Find Your Ditto in our Women-Owned Small Business Entrepreneur Series.

Brianna launched Find Your Ditto when she was a college student and is passionate about helping others.  She believes that no person with chronic illness ever has to feel alone.

Learn more bout Brianna and Find Your Ditto below.  I would like to thank her for taking the time to share her story and more about her business with us.  Check out the Find Your Ditto website and connect with Brianna on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a passionate patient entrepreneur, having lived with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease since I was a child. I received my degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan, following my interest in the intersection between technology and medicine.
 
 
What does your business do?
Find Your Ditto is a mobile application that connects people with the same chronic illness in the same geographic area for on-demand, in-person peer support. We are leveraging mobile technology to redefine peer support, making it more personal in an increasingly digital age.
 
Who is your target audience or market?
Our business operates on a sponsorship model, such that healthcare institutions sponsor access for their chronic illness patients. We hope to serve all chronic illness communities as we move into the future.
 
What year did you start your business?
2016
 
What were you doing before starting your business?
I was a college student when Find Your Ditto began– it was an entry into a public health innovation competition! Upon graduation, I began devoting more time to FYD.
 
Where is your business located? Do you have a dedicated workspace?
I’m based in Chicago but my contractors work globally {I don’t have any full-time, in-house employees yet}. I work wherever my laptop is!
 
What would you say your biggest success has been? What was the key action that led to this success?
The biggest success to date is our partnership with the Detroit Medical Center. We’re going live with 2 patient populations next month and have a really fantastic champion, Dr. Phil Levy, alongside the individuals working in the Wayne State University community health sector. The DMC partnership was a result of leveraging connections– someone who saw one of our business pitches made about 5 connections, one of whom was Dr. Levy, and all the pieces fell into place. He truly believes in FYD as a crucial tool in promoting improved patient outcomes.
 
 
What would you say your biggest failure has been?
I never like to look at startup life as having failures– the path just simply isn’t an upward trajectory. We’ve had some missteps and losses but it’s all part of founder risk.
  
What has been your biggest challenge as a small business owner?
Definitely capital, as a result, hiring. As an early-stage business in a high-risk sector {healthcare} as a young, female, and first-time founder is difficult in a fundraising perspective. Especially being based in the Midwest, investors are looking for an extraordinary amount of traction before they put in a single dime. Without an influx of capital, I have not yet been able to bring some of my team on in-house and full-time, which makes it difficult to make big strides quickly. However, I am actively looking for angel investors with a strong passion for public health, mental health, and chronic illness who believe in our mission– that no person with chronic illness ever has to feel alone.
 
Was there ever a point where you wanted to give up? If so, why?
I think about it often! After so many prospective customer rejections and so many potential investor rejections, it’s easy to think “well, this just isn’t meant to be. What I’m doing doesn’t matter.” But, all it takes is hearing another patient express deep desire for what we’re doing or another clinician raising an eyebrow at the opportunity to influence their patient outcomes beyond the clinic doors, and I’m back on track.
 
What do you love MOST about being an entrepreneur?
The flexibility and autonomy. I do what I know needs to be done in the amount of time it’ll take me to do it– I set the priorities, the schedule, you name it.
 
What do you love LEAST about being an entrepreneur?
The inability to know what’s next. It’s a big question mark 95% of the time and it’s taken quite the adjustment to thrive in it!
 
How have you funded your business? How long has it taken you to see a profit? 
We have been funded by pitch competition wins, small university-based grants, and one investment from the Desai Accelerator in the last 2.5 years. We’re just seeing our first revenue, which is very exciting!
 
Did you always see yourself owning a business? If so, is this the business that you thought you would be owning? If not, what did you think you’d be doing?
I never thought I’d start my own business. I was studying biomedical engineering, ready to start the medical school process, thinking I’d work as a surgeon and then in the business side of a hospital {I was ready to be the hospital CEO someday!}.
 
Where do you see your business in the next 3 to 5 years?
In 3-5 years, we foresee a large sponsor and patient population– especially due to trends in reimbursement models toward outcome-based measures/initiatives. I expect to have a team dedicated to improving patients’ lives and hopefully some additional technology offerings in years 5 and beyond!
 
What advice would you give to other women that are interested in starting their own business?
I would tell them that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It’s critical to know the road won’t be easy but the strongest women have created the most incredible businesses {look at Epic — the leader in electronic medical records!}
 
What is one program, tool or app that you can’t live without for your business? (If you have more than one, please feel free to share more!)
My top ones are Google Drive, Slack, Trello, and Wave– a free accounting software!
 
What does your day to day in your business look like?
It’s quite a hodge-podge! I wear a lot of hats, as they say, which takes me from application writing, to sales calls, to legal discussions, to managing a developer and back in any given day!
 
As a business owner it can often be hard to find time for ourselves. What are your favorite hobbies and what do you like to do when you are not working?
I love to cook and be imaginative in the kitchen. I also try to get some form of exercise in every day– especially as a type 1 diabetic and a young person, all the time sitting infront of a screen is killer!
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Thank you so much to Brianna for taking the time to share her story and more about Find Your Ditto. Remember to check out Find Your Ditto online and connect with Brianna on Facebook and Twitter.

 
Are you a small business owner?  Do you have a story to share?  Help others discover, learn, and support your business too!  Contact Katie at: kate (at) busybeekate.com for details or through our contact page.
 
Be sure to stop back next week for another interview and don’t forget to check out our past interviews here.
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