Mike, a health insurance marketing executive for 25 years, was in the process of closing the company he founded, and Ted, also in the health insurance field for 20 years, had experienced two company mergers and now faced an uncertain future. This scenario has played out in hundreds of thousands of lives in communities across the country and is especially acute in Las Vegas with its double digit unemployment .
Both Mike and Ted knew, “enough was enough”. With yellow pads in hand, a steady supply of ice tea, and “open minds” that no idea was a bad idea, Mike and Ted began to brainstorm. Amorphous thoughts lead to ideas, which led to potential business and product concepts and “target” markets. The two 50-something Baby Boomers knew the Internet would play a role in what ever project they decided to explore.
Yet, they also were aware that “boomers” also bridged the divide between those who were “tech savvy” and those who preferred the personal “high touch” human interaction. The initial “take away” from that brainstorming session was to develop a Baby Boomer-friendly social networking site with multiple functions, resources, co-branded products, and cultural nostalgia. The products and possibilities for the largest demographic group – 1946 to 1964 - in the U.S. as well as the world were endless!
Ted produced a research white paper on the consumption nuances of boomers. It was quickly discovered that not all boomers were alike. Young boomers, approx. 1956 to 1964, differed from the older boomers. Older boomers, think Oprah, had values and consumption similarities to their Depression/WWII-era parents, and were influenced by both the Vietnam War and America’s counter-culture movement. Younger boomers, think Sandra Bullock and Meg Ryan, were both post-Vietnam and post-counter culture, and trended towards a different culture and social mindset. Both boomer groups though, young and old, adopted and adapted to emerging technology very quickly. And unlike current generations, boomers continue to use the “ old with the new ”.
With an initial “plan”, Mike recruited his former boss, Steve Amante, who had recently resigned his position as a health insurance CEO to pursue his dream of starting an insurance agency. For months the three researched internet platforms, portals, and products. They exchanged ideas, concepts, and strategies via emails and had several “face-to-face” meetings. It’s worth noting that the three lived in different States - California, Arizona, and Nevada. They rotated their meetings, utilizing hours of“free” library meeting rooms with available Wi-Fi.
Mike, Steve and Ted decided they needed professional feedback and direction. Contacting SCORE, they found a retired technology consultant who after several meetings turned their focus to encompass what Mike, Steve and Ted knew best: healthcare. The best part of using SCORE, the services are free.
The Baby Boomer social networking business concept morphed into a healthcare social networking/resource portal. The team researched every healthcare-related website, listing all the components each contained, how they functioned and the pros and cons of each site. They soon discovered that the “competitive” sites, including Revolution Health and WebMD, lacked variables that with their almost 60-collective years of health insurance industry experience the team understood were important to consumers.
The team added the expertise of a technology consultant, and in a two-day session in a Henderson, Nevada library, the four brainstormed the purpose and direction of the company, including the name – HealthNog, with a Spanish version SaludNog. The walls of the 8 by 10 room were covered with flipchart papers which outlined every aspect of the business model and website’s features. Soon, came the creation of the technology and business development company, NogWorld. Now, these entrepreneurs had a company to produce their dream.
HealthNog and SaludNog would be a health and wellness web portal, with multiple resources and health and wellness tools, including social networking features. The possibilities were endless. One portal to collect, save and organize everything related to an individual's health and well-being and their interactions with insurance carriers, physicians, support groups, family and friends.
The downturn in the economy put several aspects of the team’s business model on hold. Not to be deterred, Mike and Steve, the primary invstors in NogWorld, launched the California version of DocNog in June 2010.DocNog is a mobile medical provider search application designed for the iPhone. Versions for other States will follow, including ones for Android and Blackberry.
“In this economy, people need hope, they need to contribute, and they need to get creative and take action with people who can help them create and take action,” states Gallagher. “You can’t wait for things to happen or for others to do it for you. Everyone needs to tap into their passions, their talents, their gifts . . and their circles of friends.”
"Stay focused and Get er Done!" is Steve's mantra, and that is exactly what these entrepreneurs did.