Q&A: Medology CEO skips traditional route to success
Updated 7:36 pm, Sunday, November 5, 2017
Fiyyaz Pirani, the 28-year-old CEO and founder of online health care services company Medology, calls himself a "serial tech entrepreneur" who eschewed higher education in pursuit of a vision he said traditional classrooms don't teach.
Modeling tech world giants who also dropped out of college - Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg - the Houston businessman has not only built a company that he hopes will turn the medical testing world on its head, he has gained the intense loyalty of a growing workforce.
Pirani has earned a Top Workplace leadership award in the small company category. The Chronicle recently talked with him about his vision.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I started creating businesses when I was in high school. I started this company called Essay Paradise, where we would help students write essays and term papers. I went to the University of Texas at San Antonio for a few months, but I quickly realized that school was not my thing and dropped out and moved back to Houston. I realized I had a marketable skill: What I had learned about e-commerce in high school, I could actually market to companies as an adult. I got a position as a digital marketing analyst at an agency. I was 18 years old. The thing about the internet world is that formal education is worth very little because you don't have the degree programs that teach you how to be successful, at least back then.
Q: You say you are anti-higher education. Why?
A: I think there is a place for it depending on your goals, but to be successful in business you learn by just getting out there and doing it. It's a personality type. Do I do four to six years in higher education, or am I just itching to take that opportunity and do my own thing?
Q: How did that get you to Medology?
A: I started Medology in 2010. We have a very interesting business model. We retail lab testing. Insurance companies have negotiated rates with providers. In the same sense we have negotiated rates with laboratories. We have over a dozen physicians who prescribe lab testing for our patients, and we sell patients lab testing online. You can go to our site and buy a lab test; you can buy an allergy test, you can buy an HIV test. If you are pregnant, you can buy prenatal testing. Then you would go to lab collection location with a prescription in hand that we have emailed to you. They do the testing and send us the results since we are the physician in this situation. We have software that automatically interprets the results. If everything is OK, we release the results. If there is a problem, we would loop the physician back in.
Q: Why is this an important innovation?
A: We're cutting out the physician, and we're cutting out the red tape. Labs don't have a problem with our service because we drive a lot of volume. We have opened up a whole new level of access. It's the technology that drives the volume. Having a business like this run by a tech guy, you can get a lot more volume than run by a physician.
Q: You won a leadership award. How are you a good leader?
A: I'm present. I'm here 50, 60 hours a week. Any of my employees can book time with me. All of us are very friendly with each other. We hire based on culture fit along with tech ability. We do end up with a younger demographic. Our average age is well under 30. That is not because we look at age as a hiring factor. It is because we are a software company, so we assess for technical skill before a candidate even walks in the door.
Q; What makes a company thrive?
A: We have one core value, and that is "kaizen," which is Japanese term for continuous improvement. We're always doing new things. No one is ever bored. Everyone has the opportunity to have their voices heard. Once we hire people, they stay.