Today's Entrepreneur


Today's Entrepreneur: Greg Houlgate

'Live your passion, and it will drive the people around you. That's the way to lead.'

Innovation series by Anna Vodopyanova
December 4, 2017
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Today's Entrepreneur is Greg Houlgate, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Oska Wellness.

Greg is a technology innovator in medical and consumer products with over 25 years of senior management, sales and marketing experience. He has held leading positions in companies including DJO Global, Inc.’s Recovery Science Division (healthcare resources provider), Onsite Network, Inc. (interactive media company), West Coast Trends (travel luggage and golf bag retailer), Porsche Design, and Callaway Golf. Greg has completed Bachelor of Science in Economics from University of California, Irvine, and has a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Here are Greg’s answers to VatorNews about doing business in health tech.

What excites you the most about your job as CEO of Oska Wellness? 

Helping people in pain quit medication and harmful drugs and lead active lifestyles using a safe and simple device – Oska Pulse - for pain relief.

Companies you’ve founded: 

In 2005, I co-founded OnSite Network, an Internet out-of-home network that serves content to sports bars, hotels and various public media distributors. In 2007, I started NEX Enterprise, a consulting firm that specializes in helping clients make strategic decisions, implement business improvements, drive new revenue, marketing and M&A. Lastly, Oska Wellness was founded in 2015.

Describe your recent achievement on a personal or business level. 

On a personal note, I just received my M1 license to ride motorcycles on the street (after a lifetime of riding dirt bikes). On a business note, building an amazing team of people committed to helping chronic and acute pain sufferers find a non-drug solution to their pain.

What are some of your awards, in addition to the TechCo Startup of the Year you received this past October?

2017 PGA Show Product of the year in the Golf Digest; 2017 ING (International Network of Golf) Product of the Year; 2017 Innovation in Small Business Award in Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce; 2017 MedTech Breakthrough Best IOT Healthcare Wearable Device Award.

What are your goals as an entrepreneur? 

To lead by example with character, to bring great products to market with US-based manufacturing, increase shareholder value daily, and to successfully lead my team to exit goals.

Why is it important for you to manufacture in the United States?

I have done business in 40 international markets consistently for most of my career, but there’s so much engineering, design, marketing, and technology talent here in the United States, in a population that is underemployed. US-based manufacturing allows you to speed the market and bring great quality products.

The Oska team consists of about 18 employees performing a variety of tasks in product development, management, marketing, customer service and logistics, and everybody here uses Oska Wellness products.

Our employees’ entry into the company typically occurred after experiencing Oska Pulse. They walked in and said: Oska works for me and my loved ones, and I want to help. This genuine belief in our product makes it easy for our employees to interact with customers, suppliers and the media. They’re incredibly committed to the mission of helping others escape pain and, because the product is so personal – they live with their product, just like I have one on me all the time. I put it under my pillow when I go to sleep, and have it in my pocket during the day.

What's most frustrating and most rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation? 

What’s frustrating is constantly having to educate people. Everybody’s a skeptic looking at anything new; it’s part of the human condition. When you give somebody an opportunity to try a demo and they choose not to use it, don’t make an effort to learn the benefits firsthand, even though it’s not a drug, not a brace – that’s frustrating for me as someone who’s trying to help. We’ve got an innovative product that can make your life better.

On the other hand, what’s rewarding is being able to bring forward this innovation and get commercial success. When customers adopt Oska Pulse, they become educators themselves once they understand this mission.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make? 

The mistake some entrepreneurs make is they accept investments from people who are most focused on some other agenda that a company is not part of. When you take money from investors who don’t understand your mission, they can really disrupt your plans. It is important to have partners aligned with what your business is trying to accomplish. As a young entrepreneur, you get a lot of advice from various consultants, and you may not know how to discern proper guidance from bad, and that’s part of an entrepreneur’s maturation.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur? 

  • Listen intently. There’s the cliché of “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.” You must listen, really hear what people tell you – I think it’s incredibly important.
  • Double the money - triple the time. When you manage a business, you must understand: if your plan is to use $5M, you probably need $10M. Same with time: if you plan to complete your project in three years, aim for more: you will most likely need six.
  • Patience is rewarded. You need to be patient with projects that need to be completed, and not get frustrated when they don’t. Frustration leads to doubt, and doubt doesn’t allow you to stay focused on your goals and your business.

What are a leader’s most important qualities? 

Honesty, to be open and committed to transparent thoughts.

Humility, to be willing to accept when you’ve made a mistake and move forward.

Resilience, to get back up when you get knocked down: you will hear 100 nos before you get one yes.

Passion, to always stay focused on your mission. Whatever your passion is, you should live that – if that’s part of your ethos, part of your day – this passion will drive the people around you. That’s the way to lead.

Lastly, maintain the focus and be flexible for that moment when something disrupts your plans. You need to focus and be attentive to challenges, and be flexible with your environment when solving issues. Make the decision that will benefit your team and the customers.

How do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Serving and helping others the best way I can. Whatever that may be.

How do you see the future of health tech? 

It is important that we, as a human race, actively participate in our personal health. Health tech is an opportunity for us to do that better. I believe, in the future, people will be more informed about their health conditions, and have the solutions readily available. That information should make us more independent and allow us to make better decisions about care, because healthcare is not taking good care of us now.

What is a major setback in health tech right now? 

In the medical device market, or health tech, there are a lot of regulatory bodies – from FDA to CMS, UL, CE and insurance carriers – all of them move at a very slow pace and do not embrace some of the most obvious breakthroughs. These regulators are behind tech progress in the medical field, and they drag their heels on approving really good science-based solutions. This impacts the population negatively, and we need to change that process now. Regulatory speed is the biggest delay in getting the best health tech to the market. 

Who is your biggest supporter in your work? 

Without a question, my family and loved ones are most supportive of the work I do. I could not operate if I did not have their love and support.

What is your favorite way to relax? 

My home is located about a block from my happy place – the beach. I go there as often as possible to enjoy everything from surfing, running, to napping on the sand. I highly recommend being in nature as the quickest way to ground yourself and keep healthy. I express gratitude every day for all the gifts we are given.

Related companies, investors and entrepreneurs

Oska Wellness
Description: Oska Wellness, a technology company committed to developing innovative consumer health and wellness products, introduced Oska® Pulse,...

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