Dr Kate Hersov is a medical doctor turned entrepreneur, having co-founded Medikidz with Dr Kim Chilman-Blair in 2008. Whilst working as paediatric doctors, they were frustrated with the lack of resources available to their young patients to help educate them in their language and at their level. Medikidz is a world’s medical education company for children, with the charity arm The Medikidz Foundation. The overall aim of the Foundation is to help children in developing countries gain useful medical knowledge and access to vital supplies. Dr Kate Hersov was in 2016 named as one of the UK’s most inspirational female entrepreneurs.
It took a few years from the idea to the time when we produced our first tangible piece of material. The idea came from our frustration as clinicians that we were unable to provide our young patients with anything to help educate them on recent diagnoses, procedures or treatment that we were prescribing.
We were always very ambitious. You have to aim high, and our ambition was to build a global brand for children’s health.
I was always inspired by the female entrepreneurs who could take a huge risk in business and follow their passions and dreams. My husband is in business, and he is an entrepreneur, so I was lucky enough to have a fantastic role model at home to help and guide me.
Definitely making the shift from being a medical doctor to being an entrepreneur was a huge challenge. You go from dealing with blood test results and reading X-Rays to balance sheets and uncertainty. It is an enormous learning curve.
The biggest challenge was the need for the knowledge of a business person: how the world of business works, how a company works, and how finances and operations within a company should work in the most optimal way. It’s a completely different world.
I got excellent support from my family and from my husband, and I think it really helps when you’ve got those close to you who are supportive of the decision that you’re making. Obviously, having my co-founder, who was also in medicine and made the decision to leave medicine, was fantastic because it meant that we were going through the process together.
Tenacity, confidence in making decisions, being calm under pressure. Also, patience, empathy, and the experience of dealing with people from all different walks of life.
The biggest similarity is the amount of the time that you have to work. It’s early starts, late nights and it’s a huge amount of commitment. The big difference is that you are your own boss.
So, there’s the autonomy and freedom that you certainly don’t have when you’re a junior doctor. I think that a fantastic benefit and an attraction of being an entrepreneur is the ability to create your own environment, and to have the freedom of working for yourself. The other key difference is that you’re working on something of your own creation, something that you’re incredibly passionate about.
I’m way too passionate about Medikidz to go back to clinical medicine. I look back on my time in medicine with fondness, but don’t regret leaving the profession. We’ve grown the business to know we have so much opportunity and so much more growth to do. We’re on the trajectory now and won’t be getting off. I think that the way that I’ve changed is that I absolutely love what I do, a lot more than when I was a doctor.
It’s really an examination of where the need is, and how you can make something run as easily as possible. I’m very lucky to work in a creative environment, and we encourage everyone to think outside the box. I think innovation is really the key to success. In terms of prioritizing ideas, it’s getting the feedback from within the company and then evaluating according to the market.
When you see how many people are responding to the brand, hearing their feedback and knowing what a difference to the young lives we make, it is definitely more than enough to keep me getting out of bed every day.
As long as there is a passion for what they’re doing, I think so. It’s certainly not easy. I think tenacity is innate within doctors and that certainly helps to be an entrepreneur. So, as long as you have the drive, then yes I think you can do it.
At the moment our focus is on the digitalization of the brand, so we’re developing apps, games for children around their health and conditions. We are also diversifying the content and looking into preventative health and public health issues. We are becoming a brand that doesn’t just produce content for children who may be experiencing an illness, but for all the children so we
are developing publications on everything from getting active to oral health and STDs. Our big vision is really to change the face of children’s health, and to become the brand where young people know they can come to access a community of information and support, maintaining good health for themselves. We really want to also help and encourage the autonomy of young people and the self-management of their medical conditions via their phone or iPad.
The biggest advice is you have to be 100% passionate about what you’re doing. You need it to overcome all the issues like the worry, the stress, the sleepless nights. In some ways, it’s really like having another baby!
I think it’s completely untrue. I’m sure that Richard Branson, for example, never wakes up on Necker Island hating his job. Obviously, every job has its challenges, but your career takes up such a large portion of your life, so whatever you do, what is the point of not enjoying it? You have to follow your passion.
My pleasure, thank you.