When I made the decision of giving up my position at mPower last September and switching full-time to mDoc (now jeeon), little did I know that we were going to be having a one-on-one meeting with Bill Gates about our work in less than 6 months’ time!
On the surface, it was not an easy choice. I was comfortable at mPower – an exciting and challenging set of roles, a joint-CEO level of authority, a team of dedicated and smart people. I was already doing purposeful work, helping the non-profit and public sector become more effective using technology. However, something in my heart told me that this was not enough. That I needed more hands-on impact to feel truly fulfilled, that serving our non-profit clients across so many sectors was extremely necessary as an organization, but not sufficient for me personally. That I wanted to have a shot at impact at a greater scale by serving people directly.
I also felt really guilty that something so close to our hearts and core to our roots as the “Amader Daktar” project (which was the founding vision of ClickDiagnostics on the first place) was being kept on the back-burner for such a long time. It felt like a compromise with our heart, which I was always thoroughly against.
So I made up my mind to take the leap and make this my first priority within the mPower group of companies. Luckily, although this raised questions in the minds of my family, they stood by me. Even more importantly, my partner Mridul, despite the difficulties this meant he would have to go through handling mPower by himself, acquiesced to my transition to the sister company.
In hindsight, that decision seems to have been one of the key inflection points in jeeon’s journey. These past six months have been a whirlwind of activity, and we have accomplished more in these months than the previous two years! We closed our first round of investment, started developing our future product with a dedicated team of fabulous engineers, surpassed our key business model assumptions of patients per day thanks to the wonders done by our business development team, and perhaps most importantly, we built a team fully aligned behind a mission and set of values.
We have been bold and relentless in pursuing our dream. But as ancient wisdom goes, fortune seems to have also favored us. The connection to Bill Gates was just such a lucky break. Our wonderful investor and adviser, Matt Dalio, had a chance encounter with him, and mentioned the work he was supporting in Bangladesh. That piqued the interest of the philanthro-magnate, who has made massive bets in the public health sector, and less than a month later, Mridul and I, along with Matt, were flying in to his private office by the beautiful lake in Seattle for a 45 minute one-on-one meeting.
The meeting ended up lasting 1.5 hours, and there seemed to be clear alignments and complementarities between his (and the Foundation’s) priorities, and our vision. He digged deep into our model, encouraged us, gave us some great advice, and told us to stay in touch and update him regularly. We walked away with our approach validated by the one person who probably has the most global vantage point of public health and technology – the two sectors at the intersection of which we exist. (He also scared us more than a bit when he said, “You are doing something important that no one else is working on – if you can scale this, it can have BIG impact.” No pressure!)
To know that the Gates Foundation will be following and cheering for us on this journey will be a great boost to our morale. We have had our fair share of “Murphy” moments, when nothing seems to be going according to plan. Hopefully, for balance, we will have more of such happy coincidences and lucky breaks!
I guess we can rest assured. Because as Paulo Coelho wrote in the Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Let the universe conspire for making well-being universal.