Q&A 4Her – Teresa O’Keefe, CEO of MyBodyCount
Woman entrepreneur Teresa O’Keefe is using her background in healthcare to create a system that she hopes will change healthcare in the United States and quite possibly, the world.
Much like your credit score, MyBodyCount is a health score made up of a specific number of biomarkers. Knowing your BodyCount can assist you with improving your overall health as well as provide a plethora of other benefits.
We got a chance to catch up with Teresa to learn more about her innovative company. Read on for her full Q&A 4Her interview!
What is the unique problem or situation your product or service solves?
MyBodyCount® is a clinical health score developed by researchers from Johns Hopkins, similar to a credit score, based on a packaged set of biomarkers affected primarily by lifestyle (smoking and eating/exercise habits). Consumers can use it as a currency to qualify for incentives from their employer or health plan. MyBodyCount also offers consumers a web platform enabling them to track their biomarkers and the things that affect them and provides resources to improve their health.
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about this particular industry or running your own business and why?
I’ve been working with startups for many years so I can’t say there are many surprises about the difficulty in the actual process to get launched. However, surprisingly, I did underestimate the loyalty and commitment of the people on my team. When you have a good idea that people not only believe in, but relate to, it’s easy to find people who want to work with you.
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
That’s easy – always approach your job to work yourself out of it. When you build an organization that doesn’t need you any more, you’ve achieved your goal. And you can move on to the next thing or grow what you have and garner more responsibility.
Another great piece of advice came at a time when I was in my early-30s, climbing the corporate ladder and was quite passionate about work. Passion for women can be a deficit; we get too emotional and can’t leave work at work. We “die on every mountain”. My boss at the time, a senior executive/corporate-type, said to me, “Terry, it’s just a game – always treat it like it’s a game. You win sometimes, you lose sometimes.” This is hard to explain, but it changed my approach to work and gave me insight as to how men approach work (and corporate politics). It makes it seem more Machiavellian, incorporating more of the art like the renaissance French court system where if you start looking at what influences or motivates people as individuals, or figure out their game, you can play more effectively.
What were the hardest barriers in getting your idea off the ground?
It was figuring out how to position our entire model into a phased approach to go to market. We originally had a vision of going to market with a consumer product first. But that model didn’t scale well enough to attract investors. We pivoted about 4 times to finally get a go-to-market strategy that we can build on. Also, of course, signing up the initial investors and partners to get behind you. We aren’t just building a world-class web site. Our model is very elegant, but complex. That’s why it hasn’t been done before.
What do you enjoy best about being an entrepreneur?
I feel like what we are doing can really make a difference in US healthcare and the world, for that matter. I feel like my insider knowledge of healthcare enables me to conceive opportunities to fix it.
Do you feel becoming an entrepreneur has helped you grow as a person? If so – how?
Yes. I’ll always feel like a 21 year old in some ways, but you have to be able to be the grown up in the room.
Where can people learn more about your company?
We are working on our beta project right now, but if you sign up with us, you will be alerted to news and new product offerings.
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business – what would it be?
Something I tell people that I mentor – You were lucky enough to be born in a country with the absolute most opportunity and inspiration for women. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and say, “Why not me?”