Dr. Alfred Sparman was born in Guyana and migrated to the USA with his mother as a young child where he attended Erasmus Hall High School. Following his graduation, he then enrolled at Long Island University to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry. On completion, he moved to the next stage in his goal towards medicine and was accepted at New York Medical College where he began his four (4) year journey to acquire his Medical Degree. He went on to his research and surgery internship at Brooklyn Hospital/Syracuse Medical Centre. However, it was around this time that Dr. Sparman’s path would be altered after being charged with abusing his ex-wife. Fortunately, he was able to complete his placement at Brooklyn Hospital/ Syracuse Medical Centre and continued onto his medical residency at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital (Mount Sinai Hospital). It was here that Dr. Sparman began to focus his studies to specialize in cardiology. He moved from New York to Florida where he completed his Cardiology Fellowship at the Jacksonville Medical Centre.
Dr. Sparman never stops striving to go one step further and is not the typical physician as he does enjoy hunting for new business ventures that peak his interest. He currently is the CEO of The Sparman Clinic and his latest project is a supplement manufactured by Life Pill Laboratories LLC. The Life Pill: 40+ Heart Defense was developed to aid in the fight to reduce the prevalence of heart disease and sticks to his mantra, ‘Keep Close to the Plant.’
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I always excelled in the sciences and as a child, I always wanted to become a doctor. Additionally, my mother was a nurse her entire life both in Guyana and New York. I remember going to visit her at the hospital where she worked and that further peaked my interest in medicine. The stage was set, I knew what field I wanted to go into, I wanted to be like my Mum. This desire, along with my innate love of the sciences unconsciously set the stage for my journey to become a doctor. Once I completed my studies and gained valuable work experience, I decided I wanted to return to the Caribbean.
I always wanted to reconnect with my Caribbean heritage and was desirous of making a positive impact on the healthcare system. I selected Barbados to be the hub for a practice that would go through a metamorphosis from its inception in 2001 until its current status as the second hospital on the island. The Sparman Clinic began with only two employees, however, it quickly established itself as the leading cardiac facility in Barbados and the Caribbean, offering its services both locally and regionally. It serves as a hub especially as it was once the only facility that performed angioplasty on the island. The Sparman Clinic incorporates many of the services that compliment complete patient care including 24hr access to general practitioners, a pharmacy, gym, lab, admissions ward, surgical suite, ambulance, and shuttle service all under one roof. This was the prototype for future facilities. In 2015, I further expanded my offerings and added plastic and reconstructive surgery to the hospital’s portfolio.
How did you get your first customer?
I visited many of the doctors on the island to introduce the services that I would be offering and to garner their support for my new practice. It took some time but just as I was going to take a trip to Miami, I received a call from one of the local Emergency clinics on the island and was told they had a patient with a possible Myocardial Infarction; I canceled my flight to begin caring for this patient. From this initial patient, referrals were coming in not only from other physicians but also from the patients themselves
How do you make money?
I have multiple streams; firstly, there is The Sparman Clinic and The 4H Hospital which offers cardiology services including diagnostic testing, angioplasty and the implantation of devices; general medicine and plastic and reconstructive surgery. Additionally, I launched Life Pill Laboratories LLC which produces The Life Pill: 40+ Heart Defense.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
In the field of medicine, especially in the Caribbean, it takes time to develop the relationships necessary to gain patient referrals. For me, it took two (2) years to begin to see profits after investing heavily in the clinic. However, just as I was making progress within the community, I faced a new challenge from the ‘stalwarts’ in the medical fraternity. This significantly impacted my business and it took another year for me to regain his footing.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I faced many challenges on my journey and doubt occurred many times as it seemed I was jumping from one obstacle to the next but I was in a position where I had no other option but to go forward, I had invested too much to turn back so I had to make it work. Later in life I got to understand that everything happened for a specific purpose. It seems as though everything was orchestrated now looking back, if each thing did not happen, I would not have been as successful today. Life has taught me to do the best you can. There is always an out, you just have to look for it.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I believe that you must ‘practice what you preach!’ That being said, I think that you must carry yourself in a manner that what you are telling your fellow doctors and patients is in truth and in fact is what you do yourself. That is, your words and actions should always coincide as people connect with persons who follow through on what they say. For example, a dentist with bad teeth may not be able to attract a clientele as well as a dentist whose teeth are well kept. Along with this, your appearance and decorum, also help to shape the perception of others and has the potential to either entice or deter a potential patient.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I recently made the choice to invest heavily in the marketing of The Life Pill to ensure its success in an arena that is heavily populated. I know I could have invested in other areas but I want to ensure that I make this story ‘epic’.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Persistence is the key to my success. In Barbados I have faced many challenges in my sixteen (16) years on the island, however, I am determined to continue to enhance the healthcare services offered. Finding a niche and executing a swift and efficient plan allowing one to monopolize the market is paramount.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I recently launched The Life Pill in the Kinney Drug Store chain with 110 stores in Upstate New York and Vermont. Just the thought of it being on the shelves of 110 stores gives me a truly euphoric feeling.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future for me is holding endless possibilities for both The Sparman Clinic and Life Pill Laboratories. For the Clinic, I am planning a further expansion to create a larger ward and possibly offer a wider range of diagnostic services. In addition, I hope to have an orthopedic surgeon join the practice to further diversify the medical services offered.
I am ecstatic at the thought of The Life Pill products being available in the larger retail chains in the USA and worldwide. The Life Pill for me is my ‘contribution to the world’ to help reduce the prevalence of heart disease, the world’s #1 killer.
What business books have inspired you?
Although not necessarily deemed a ‘business book’; Tommy Hilfiger’s American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion and Business.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
A mechanical ventilator allowing the handling of more critical patients.
You can learn more about Dr. Sparman at Drsparman.com