The road to startup success isn’t a clear path for anyone, acknowledged Michael Rea, and it takes a founder’s persistence to reach his or her desired destination.
“Many people set out on an entrepreneurial journey, but few complete it,” Rea, founder and CEO of Rx Savings Solutions, told a crowd gathered Friday night for the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Rea was named Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year moments before Cerner Corporation co-founders Neal Patterson, Paul Gorup, and Cliff Illig were inducted into the university’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
Many obstacles can get in the way of such founders’ journeys, said Rea, whose company was noted in 2018 as one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch.
“Life events, lack of capital, failed proof of concepts, and unfortunate market timing are just a few,” he said. “But sticking around long enough — developing an immunity to the word ‘No’ — is a key to keep going. It just takes a strong stomach.”
Those who are truly revolutionizing a big industry are sure to hit bumps along the way, Rea said, especially when a founder needs to understand a subject better than anyone else in the world to bring change.
“Stacked on top of all the normal growing pains that businesses fight through, there’s often an industry status quo that many ingrained players will fight hard to maintain,” he said. “So finding your way over, under, around or through the brick wall that stands between you and success will not be easy.”
Click here to read about Maria Meyers’ recognition for her work through KCSourceLink and SourceLink, as well as about the Student Entrepreneur of the Year.
Acknowledging the people who’ve helped make Rx Savings Solutions a success since its founding in 2008 — his wife and business partner, his startup team and investors — Rea said passion is another essential character trait.
A former pharmacist, Rx Savings Solutions was his answer to high prescription drug costs — a means of empowering users through greater transparency and a better understanding of the market.
“During the difficult times, knowing what you’re fighting for is what gets you through,” he said. “I didn’t start Rx Savings Solutions because I thought it would make me rich. I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do. I saw a massive, consistent problem with millions of victims of a heavily skewed game. … Whatever business you start, whatever you’re selling, it has to be something you can pour your heart and soul into because entrepreneurship will test both every day.”