The Founders Series: advice for entrepreneurs and students who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs
The Founders Series reaches across multiple industries in order to get diverse perspectives on entrepreneurship. That’s why you see anything from startup-focused law firms to non-profit organizations featured alongside tech startups.
This week, we received some sage advice from Tim Bilodeau, the Founder and Executive Director of Medicines for Humanity (MFH), a non-profit that is doing amazing work in saving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Tell us about Medicines for Humanity. What’s your vision for the organization?
Over 6 million children die each year because they lack basic healthcare services. Medicines for Humanity (MFH) is a non-profit organization with the mission to prevent the deaths of these children. MFH improves the capacity of reliable in-country healthcare providers to reach more children more effectively. We focus on children under age five, pregnant women, and on proven low cost, sustainable health services. MFH creates systemic change and lasting systems of care.
What inspired you to start MFH?
The inspiration for MFH came from an experience on my first day visiting a health project in the slums of Guayaquil, Ecuador. I saw Father Frank Smith, a missionary priest, speaking with a sobbing woman. Father Frank later explained that her 3 year old son had died that day because she made the wrong choice. She bought food for her family instead of medicine for her son. When I learned that the boy could have been saved with 25 cents worth of pedialite, the idea for MFH was conceived. Nobody should have to make that kind of choice.
What was your first job after graduation? If in a different field, how did you make the transition from that to entrepreneurship?
My first job was a teaching fellowship at Athens College in Greece, and I worked in education for about 7 years. My first transition was to the private sector as a management consultant and later executive recruiter. The private sector jobs were good financially but largely empty of meaning for me. I started working for nonprofits helping vulnerable children in developing countries. My third transition to MFH evolved from a felt opportunity to save lives.
What is the most important trait for an entrepreneur to have?
The most valuable trait is having authentic commitment to your purpose…to a mission that can inspire and motivate you through the challenges, difficulties, and hardships you will face.
What career advice would you give to current students who are considering joining a startup or starting their own company/organization?
The ideal startup or company/organization is one with a vision that inspires you and can inspire others. It is an organization that evolves from your personal experience, resonates with your values, fits your skill set, and gives meaning to your life.
Where can people find out more about MFH?
To find out more about MFH, our projects, and our in-country healthcare projects and partners:
- Visit our website at http://medicinesforhumanity.org/
- Watch our videos filmed at project sites in Haiti and Cameroon at:
- Find news/updates on our Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/MedicinesForHumanity
- Follow MFH on Twitter @meds4humanity
- Read about our work in the Dominican Republic with the MLB Player’s Association at:
- Email any questions to: timb (at) medicinesforhumanity.org