We caught up with this year’s Technological Excellence Award honoree to see how the Greater Philadelphia business community has contributed to their success. Check out what Christopher Molaro, Co-Founder & CEO, NeuroFlow has to say as we highlight one of the excellent small businesses driving the Greater Philadelphia region. Join us as we honor this year’s winners at the 37th Annual Excellence Awards on Thursday, November 21.
Where did the idea for your business come from? Describe the moment that you decided to go into business for yourself.
I have always loved solving problems. It is the engineer and scientist in me. The tougher and bigger the problem, the more fun it is to solve. When I served in the Army, I recall great memories of working with very talented, hard-working, and dedicated teams, and we weren’t only trying to solve tough problems together but under frightening circumstances. When I transitioned out of the Army and attended business school, I yearned to find a replacement in my career to satiate that mission-driven, results-oriented mentality. To me, going into business, surrounding myself with a team, and setting out to solve a major societal problem was really the only choice I figured. There was a Wharton School business plan competition, so I teamed up with a Ph.D. candidate I knew and set out to create NeuroFlow which was addressing mental health issues — something deeply personal to us both.
What is your business philosophy and how is it unique?
I don’t think this is necessarily unique but I want to do well by doing good. I truly want to create something that serves society for the better and makes our lives richer overall. And I want to do this holistically — creating a culture in the company where employees feel empowered and are invested in their growth, and where customers feel like they’re not just a source of revenue but truly a partner in our joint mission together.
What is the biggest challenge in owning/running a business in the region? How do you deal with the challenges?
Finding capital for an early stage company is hard — and while I’m sure it’s hard everywhere, I have had to go outside the Philadelphia region for most of our early investments.
How has the Greater Philadelphia business community impacted your success?
This is an easy one because there are lots of options to choose from. The community here is an incredible health care hub with leaders from industries including payers, nationally known hospitals, and other health care companies. It is also a great source of talent with the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, Drexel, Villanova, St. Joe’s, and numerous other universities in our neighborhoods, plus New York City and Washington D.C. are short distances away. Philadelphia has proven to be a relatively easy place to recruit a great team! (We’re now up to 27.) Lastly, there are a number of innovation resources and community resources that want to truly partner with companies and ensure their success — it’s a very forward-looking mentality and, of course, actions speak louder than words but in my experience, most of the groups and organizations in the city mandated with supporting innovation and small businesses have come through in big ways.
Others will be looking to you for advice about starting and/or operating a business here. What are your top 3 tips?
- Make sure you are clear with what your vision and strategy are and move decisively but be flexible and honest with yourself when you get feedback from the market — be willing to change and pivot.
- Surround yourself with the best people. Your early team should be equally as passionate and committed but complementary to your skills and expertise.
- Ensure you always have the resources to execute your plan, and then always have a plan B and C.
Being a founder and CEO of a company is easy in that case — vision/strategy, people, resources.
I should say, also — sometimes easier said than done — have fun! Even on my worst days, I feel fortunate to be in the position I am.
What does it mean to you personally and/or to your business to be named an Excellence Award winner?
Everyday our team comes to work with one mission: to help providers in their quest to help patients improve their health. It is a tall order, but in the words of Elon Musk, “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” To be named an Excellence Award winner is enormous validation of the team’s hard work and the impact we’re helping physicians make with their patients. We appreciate the acknowledgement and are honored to be considered amongst the other great companies in the region; yet, we are mindful that the mission is not complete and we’ll use this as fuel moving forward.
Where do you see your business in 10 years?
The tragedy is that behavioral health permeates everywhere — it affects everyone to a certain extent and all health specialties. In other words, for someone that is going through chemotherapy or someone that has diabetes, there is a high likelihood that they also have a co-occurring behavioral health issue, and moreover, that behavioral health issue affects the outcomes and impact on the physical health ailment as well. They’re intertwined! The opportunity, thus, for NeuroFlow, is to help bridge this divide and address the continuum of care. Today, we’re focused on helping bridge this divide in pain management and primary care. We started to expand into OBGYN with our Jefferson Health partnership. In 10 years, NeuroFlow can be used in every care setting, accessible by anyone, helping to optimize our world’s happiness.
Why did you choose Greater Philadelphia as a place to start your business? What opportunities does the region provide for health care technology that competitor cities do not?
My business partner and co-founder, Adam Pardes, and I, met while we were in graduate school. I was getting my M.B.A. at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and he was getting his Bioengineering Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. We seeded the company in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was our home since the beginning — it’s where the story began. It made sense to grow it here as well.
Get your tickets to help celebrate NeuroFlow as this year’s Technological Excellence Award honoree.
Thursday, November 21
5:30 – 9:00 p.m.