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Senior Managing Director | The Opes Group LLC

Entrepreneurial Advice From Michael Dermer

Recently, one of our analysts here at the Opes Group attended a conference regarding Michael Dermer’s book “The Lonely Entrepreneur” at the General Assembly in New York City. Dermer not only discussed the book, but also gave a few tips and tricks for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to use for their own businesses. Our analyst chronicled the conference, highlighting some of the key points Dermer made. Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help any entrepreneur achieve the success they deserve.

On Thursday, January 12, 2017, Michael Dermer held a conference on his book “The Lonely Entrepreneur” at the General Assembly in New York City. The General Assembly is an organization that “fosters an elite professional community of individuals and companies through education and strategic career connections.” The organization teaches coding, design, data, marketing, and business.

Michael Dermer is a former mergers and acquisitions lawyer turned entrepreneur. In 2003 he founded a company called IncentOne that was based on the idea of rewarding people for healthy choices, such as timely prenatal appointments for pregnant women, as a cost saving mechanism for the healthcare industry. Michael shared that the idea for his company came from an alarming statistic which stated that for every ten women who do not follow prenatal care instructions, the healthcare industry loses $1,000,000. Michael had been developing his business for eight years when the financial crisis destroyed his business and took away most of its customers. It took Michael two years, and a lot of passion and willpower, to rebuild his business, which, he successfully sold afterwards.

Most of the presentation was concentrated on giving advice to entrepreneurs. First, Michael advised to develop new businesses as beneficial solutions to big companies (for example, his company IncentOne as a solution to the health insurance provider UnitedHealthcare). He emphasized that there is always competition among businesses, but finding a profitable pocket is key. Another piece of advice he discussed concerned relations with investors. Michael stressed the importance of being honest with investors; not simply telling them “we’re awesome,” but rather telling them what you do well, what you don’t do well and what you will do to fix it.  Michael also shared his insights on running a business successfully. He stated to always make sure to do the hardest thing in the morning and to put distractions away, like checking email while working on a task. When asked about what Michael would do differently, he said that one of his big regrets was not being more generous in compensation of his most valuable employees, such as his chief technology officer who was key in implementing changes to their idea. Michael urged entrepreneurs to find independent, unbiased, third party persons to evaluate ideas and ask about the value of a product, while also documenting interactions with people whom one shares an idea. Finally, when asked about previous work experiences prior to starting one’s own business, Michael said that consulting and finance job experiences are extremely valuable.

To share the wisdom he gained from creating his business and overcoming challenges, Michael offers coaching solutions to entrepreneurs, which can be found on his website, lonelyentrepreneur.com.