After announcements from Dr. Luke Pittaway, the class took turns introducing themselves to today’s guest speaker. Student with diverse educational interests, video production to civil engineers, have come together to explore entrepreneurship through developing startup ideas such as alternative grocery stores and innovate healthcare apps.
Geoff Morgan, VP and General Manager of Quidel (formerly Diagnostic Hybrids), stopped by to talk to this class of emerging entrepreneurs about his unique professional experience.
Morgan began with his background, graduating from Miami University (1986) accountancy and finance. He then went on to work with Price WaterHouse Coopers from 1987-1999. Later, Morgan worked at Blue Chip Broadcasting in Cincinnati, Ohio, and started working with Diagnostic Hybrids in 2003.
He clarified that although he was not an entrepreneur himself, he serves as an advisor to entrepreneurs. He said he has had the privilege of working with entrepreneurs David Scholl and Ross Love, Dr. Stephen Joffe (Pioneer in LASIK surgery), and Randy Michaels (transformed Jacor Communications into a $4.4 billion company).
He explains what an entrepreneur is through a quote from an HBS professor:
“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
Morgan described the interesting background of Diagnostic Hybrids a biotech company founded in Appalachia. Spurred by the contributions of Dr. Wilfred Konneker who wrote a $250,000 check to start diagnostic hybrids in 1982, this company struggled for years before making a profit mainly surviving on Konneker’s contributions.
Geoff Morgan learned important lessons from Dave Scholl and Diagnostic Hybrids about being a startup:
- It’s really hard
Diagnostic Hybrids was producing what they thought the customer needed, but it wasn’t what they wanted. The company had zero sales in 25 years. Diagnostic Hybrids almost ran out of money.
- It takes special people to turn an idea into a reality
David Scholl rose as the visionary leader. Morgan, over the years, noticed two links between successful startups and great entrepreneurs:
Each one had a “doggedly persistent leader”
Each of those companies, by all objective measures, should have failed
- Realizing that the company has value carriers a lot of responsibility
A successful company brings a whole new set of challenges. As an entrepreneur, you have to ask yourself “Who do you trust to sustain and keep growing?” “How do we grow?”
Diagnostic Hybrids had to face the critical decision of all successful entrepreneurs: sell and get a multimillion dollar paycheck or reinvest and keep working? He went on to explain: “There comes a point in the lifecycle of a business that all successful entrepreneur’s face. Let me try to explain if I was speaking as an entrepreneur. ‘I have worked really hard and have created something that has real value and I know that I could have a big financial reward if I sold today.’ ‘Knowing the risks, challenges and extremely hard work of taking the Company to the next level, do we exit now or do we reinvest our time and career in growing the business to the next level in pursuit of something greater?’”
Diagnostic Hybrids evolved into a great, valuable company that was eventually sold to Quidel. This company was cultivated here in Athens, Ohio and has stayed true its roots.