Hard work will always be rewarding. For some time now, I have been looking for the perfect moment to launch my own company. Now I realize there is no such thing as “the perfect moment”. I may come out of my MBA highly indebted, using that as an excuse to wait for better timing but later I may have kids and the same thing will happen. Working at salaUno made me realize that no matter what the circumstances are, with hard work and a good team everything is possible. After losing support from the federal government to subsidize cataract surgeries, salaUno lost a significant revenue stream that could have taken the business down. Nevertheless, hard work and perseverance made salaUno find new avenues to keep growing. I am certain these avenues will take salaUno beyond what they imagine.
Building a great team is of utmost importance. I was thrilled to see all the talent that salaUno has been able to attract due to its amazing mission. This mission allows salaUno to attract plenty of young, qualified individuals that are doing a great job and impacting the company’s future for the better. I also realized the value of a well-diversified top level management team. Both founders of salaUno have very similar careers and while they have been able to manage and grow the business for 3 years now, I believe they need to include someone with medical expertise in top-level management. Working in healthcare involves so many specific details that having this expertise will very helpful. As a business man, one can think a lot of things are possible but when dealing with people’s lives having this expertise at this level in the organization is imperative.
Businesses with a social mission are a reality. This is the most important lesson that I got out of my experience. SalaUno reached breakeven after only two months of operations. Today it is a company that employs over 80 people and impacts thousands of lives by providing accessible eye care to everyone. By aligning the company’s mission with its profitability, the company will make more money as long as they do more surgeries and impact more people. Aligning interests and incentives for employees is not a simple feat and I believe that it is a key feature of salaUno’s business model: increasing profitability and impacting more lives with growth hand-in-hand.
Overall, working with salaUno was a great experience. I was able to see firsthand how startups are run, all the challenges they face and how they need to be solve, but most importantly that being a successful social entrepreneur is possible!