You know I don’t buy into the men saying that there’s a bias against women entrepreneurs in the industry. Janet doesn’t either. Here’s an opportunity to learn from her success in building solid revenues, and a profitable business.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Janet Kosloff: I was born and raised on Long Island in New York. My father owned a diner in Queens. He was from Brooklyn. My mother was from a small town in Central Pennsylvania. I had a fairly typical upbringing. I went to college at the State University of New York and I studied Nursing. I started my career as a nurse not necessarily because I had a passion for nursing. It was more so because I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life. My family guided me into that career for the reason that I had an affinity for science.
My mother thought that it would be a good career for a woman to pursue. I practised nursing for about six years. I didn’t really have a passion for it. I realized pretty quickly that in order to be a good nurse, you have to have passion for it. I loved healthcare. I liked the business of healthcare. Because my father was essentially a small businessman, I always had a bit of the entrepreneurial bug. There was always a business side to my thinking. Towards my latter years of being a nurse, Universal Precautions came into vogue because of the AIDS epidemic.
I remember thinking very early on that someone ought to create really cool goggles for nurses because they would eat it up. I knew that the business side was really where I was headed. While I was still working full-time, I went back to school. I got a graduate degree in healthcare administration. I went into the corporate healthcare world. I worked my way up. I worked for a home healthcare firm that had 400 branches around the country. I did some product development. I eventually got into sales.
Then I got recruited into a startup. I caught the startup bug. I did a number of startups in the healthcare space all the while thinking, “I know I have a business in me. I want to do one that’s mine.” I waited for the right idea. About five years ago, I was working for a startup. I was running sales and marketing. It was a traditional market research firm. I should mention that our client base was life science market researchers. We were servicing drug companies, big pharma, biotech companies, and medical device companies.
It occurred to me that the industry was in need of a pretty significant shake-up because people had been doing market research the same way for 50 years. It was a very expensive and very elongated process with many steps. People were waiting weeks and months for data so that they can make really important decisions. Pharmaceutical industry has a mission to create drugs that really can change people’s lives and cure diseases. One of the reasons drug development takes so long is because it takes so long to do clinical trials and get information. It occurred to me that if someone were to create a product that tech-enabled market research, it could make a huge impact. I noodled on this idea for a while and mustered up enough courage to leave a very good job and start my own thing. That thing became InCrowd.