As a driven serial entrepreneur, Chad Price continues to disrupt markets with innovative solutions to improve services. In 2014, he dove right into the medical scene with no prior experience, founding MAKO Laboratories LLC (which later became Mako Medical). The company expanded to include MakoRx, covering 10 states, and hiring hundreds of people. He has used the company to offer a number of programs and charity support to do a lot of good for his community.
Chad Price is driven by his commitment to God and his belief in the possibilities of a better world. Through Mako Medical, he has hired hundreds of vets and provided programs to slash drug prices for families. His company was named to Forbes’ list of Best Startup Employers for 2020. A percentage of Mako profits has been reserved to meet the needs of missionaries and local charities.
Chad Price has created other startups as well, including Element Service Group Mechanical LLC (2012) and Bride Genie (2019). In 2015, he became an investor and board member for Trill A.I. He started Cary Reconstruction (2005) where he also served as CMO to help drive its marketing strategy in promoting natural or traumatic disaster scene cleanup.
Chad Price is an expert in growth and transition strategies, helping companies that need to change strategies to fit their current setup. He is an expert in merger changeovers and optimizing company efficiencies. As a business professional well-versed in startups and growth, he has consulted for companies crossing every industry.
How did you get started in this business?
I had been taking my sister to doctor’s appointments for years where she would undergo test after test. Sometimes we would wait weeks for test results, and it seemed to be the norm for the industry. My passion for helping my sister and knowing that there were so many others in distress waiting for test results, I decided to find a better way. In 2014 I partnered with Josh Arant, a friend I met in bible study. Josh comes from an entrepreneurial family and has an educational background in chemistry. Using our drive for success and lots of research, we figured out a way to develop a laboratory that would bring accurate and affordable test results to patients in record time, helping our community live better and healthier lives.
How do you make money?
Mako Medical offers cost-effective testing services that makes it easier for doctors and patients to get the information and help they need. About 70 percent of medical decisions hinge on lab tests, so there is recurring income. Though the company and our services expanded quickly, it wasn’t until about our fourth year in business that we started making money. By then, we owned most of our own laboratory equipment and space, and expansion continued, helping to bring our dreams to reality.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
The first few years were rough and fun. We learned a lot and we made a lot of mistakes. Funding was hard as we underestimated the volatility of the healthcare industry. By year four, we were able to secure traditional financing, bringing on more employees, and expanding our reach into the broader community. At Mako Medical, we have a mission to give back to the community as much as possible. We believe we are all in this together, and the more we can provide encouragement and support to those around us, the more successful we will all become.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I think there is always a small hint of doubt when starting a new business. It is especially true when you know nothing about that business.
We underestimated everything in the beginning, like how long it would take to get our first customer, and we made a lot of mistakes. Equipment broke, vendors were unreliable, we lost employees to bigger companies, and our entire community-centric business model seemed like it was crumbling.
Adam and I say that we started the business with a “God and Google” plan, and our faith and sheer drive for success is what pulled us through. We believed in our mission, and others did too. Our workdays turned long and arduous, but thankfully, we made it through.
How did you get your first customer?
Essentially, we started out by going door to door. We would visit physician offices seeking contracts to test blood, urine, and other specimens and by the grace of God, it eventually paid off. Mako got a lift from Dale Jenkins, CEO of Raleigh-based Medical Mutual Insurance Co., a physician insurance company. Jenkins saw something in Chad and Josh and the vision behind Mako. He helped connect Mako with physicians who prefer a local testing company.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Our strategy has always been based on serving our community. Even before we had a lot to give, we made sure that we volunteered our time and donated to those organizations serving to make the community a better and healthier place to live. Working in this way also serves to improve our business model because it is the ultimate way to connect and network with others.
In early 2020, we released a nutritional DNA test to help individuals optimize their health and performance. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team has completely stepped up in ways unimaginable at the beginning of the year. The Mako team has developed new testing options for COVID-19 and the flu. We have completed more than two million COVID tests and provided results to our patients within 24-48 hours. We have donated testing kits to the North Carolina Medical Society and we have worked with our local government, schools, and businesses to ensure testing is widely available to all.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Obviously, this year has been like no other for our global economy. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed, and individuals, families, and businesses have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. At Mako, we make it our business to ensure our community is thriving. We have been fortunate enough to have built our community by adding over 300 new jobs during the pandemic and we have developed new and efficient tests to help individuals identify their illness. The new COVflu-19 test allows us to test individuals for both Influenza A and B, and COVID-19, providing results quickly so people can take care of themselves and their community. None of the decisions we make come easy, especially because we understand that we are directly affecting individual and public health. We take it all very seriously and feel fortunate to be able to do so.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My success and the success of Mako Medical comes from the heart. Our passion and drive for improving the health and lives of all individuals is what has made our company so successful. The healthcare facilities we partner with see it and believe it when we deliver on our word, and that is the most reliable way to build success year over year.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Mako Medical has put community above all else and we have done so by supporting local nonprofits, charities, and hiring military veterans. Our team stays motivated because as a group we focus on the why not the what. We are motivated by helping others and we put that at the forefront of every decision we make. We recently provided over 400 free meals to all Vance County Veterans and their family members through the American Legion Post 60 in Henderson. The more we can give, the better we all will be.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
At its core, Mako Medical is on the leading edge of innovation and technology. We have successfully and positively disrupted the laboratory testing industry and I hope that in the next five years we will do the same within the pharmacy sector and become one of the top healthcare companies in the U.S.
With every passing day, Mako Medical continues to expand into new markets with the addition of new services and it is so exciting to see how our team continues to thrive and become leaders in this space.
What business books have inspired you?
I am a follower and believer of the old-school model for success. On my desk, I keep handy Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. My entire professional success and the success of MAKO has been the result of my demeanor and the ways in which I can connect with others. Both of these books provide an amazing perspective in defining who you are as a person before defining who you are as a businessman/woman.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to never stop dreaming and to never give up. If you feel passion and have a deep-rooted belief that what you are doing is meant for you, then don’t give up on it. Times will be tough, you will fail, but persist through and success will follow.
There are many times on my journey in life that I have quit to find an easier way, but it has never brought me joy. Once you find your passion, stick with it. Find the resources and make it happen.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I would absolutely be a mentor to anyone who felt that my path toward success would benefit theirs. We built MAKO to improve the lives of others, and if I can do the same for others in their profession, I couldn’t think of any better way to serve.
Giving advice to someone starting out in our field, or as an entrepreneur in any field, is threefold:
1. Believe in yourself and your product.
2. Lead with passion, integrity, and determination.
3. Connect and network with as many people as you can. It is the most personal, and not to mention a free, way of promoting yourself and your work.