Patrick Frank is a serial entrepreneur in the truest sense. The founder of three successful ventures, Frank knows what it’s like to build a startup and watch it thrive. His newest venture, Patient Partner, uses its proprietary algorithm to connect potential future patients directly with others who are similar to them and who have already been through the same experience.
The platform creates an organic support system for patients often left without one. His business Float Factory brings innovative and unique fun to the pool. And clothing line Buff Boy Crop Tops is built on the idea of fun, tongue-in-cheek humor, and making fitness fun again.
Patrick Frank sits down with ValiantCEO to talk about all the challenges he has faced and lessons he has learned on his rise to business success.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Thank you for your time! Where did you come up with the ideas for your businesses? Can you give us a quick story about founding one or all of the businesses?
Patrick Frank: My career trajectory has been far from normal. In fact, I was fired from every corporate job I’ve ever had.
Clearly, the world was telling me that I was not cut out to work for someone else, so I started paying attention when I teamed up with my childhood best friend, George Kramb, to start Patient Partner. We saw a clear opportunity to enable patients to connect with one another through scalable technology.
With George’s background entirely in healthcare and working with patients, we knew we had what it took to build it. We noticed that patients entering surgery often had a ton of anxiety and fear, and they lacked a support system of people who had experienced what they were going through. We saw a great need for support and, above all, empathy in that space. That’s how Patient Partner was born.
The idea for Float Factory, which was initially just a product called “The Pool Punisher,” originated from a bachelor party that was plagued by lame floats. Afterwards, my co-founder’s child asked why he couldn’t use his toy tank in the water, and that was the moment we knew we had something worth pursuing. From there, we kept going with the crazy ideas which led to race car floats, talking floats, and many more innovations in the pipeline.
Last but not least: Buff Boy Crops. It’s definitely the craziest of the three, but the one that is without question the most fun. My co-founder, who also happens to be my roommate and a professional trainer, plays the main role, while I serve as more of the operational brain of the business.
He is definitely the brawn. We saw a massive opportunity with this retro wave coming into consumer products, and figured why not for fitness apparel? The brand focuses on the glory days of weightlifting and fitness, mixed with a ton of fun!
What challenges have you faced on your road to success?
Patrick Frank: With Patient Partner, it’s kind of two-fold. The business was completely bootstrapped. We went through several different iterations of exactly what the idea was — from a medical device repository to a lead generation tool to a community platform — until we finally landed on what it is today: a place for patients to connect.
When we initially set out to raise money for the venture, we faced our most significant challenge — it was right when COVID hit. We actually had a term sheet for over a million dollars, and right when all the COVID news broke, we had that retracted and were only given $200,000.
But I’ve found that when my back is against the wall, I operate the best. My Patient Partner co-founder and I both quit our jobs based on that initial investment. We went full time and thought we could make that work. We struggled at first — calling in favors from friends and paying them with lunches to help us build out the business, while the entire time not paying ourselves.
But we managed to secure one of the largest medical device companies as our flagship client. With that contract, we were able to continually raise capital to complete our fundraising round, and to date have generated over $5 million in revenue.
What we endured with Patient Partner is a perfect example of market shift and the ups and downs of capital availability and company valuations. With conservative fundraising efforts, we’ve created a pathway for ourselves to bring on additional capital. We have an exciting story to tell, and that all comes from us having our backs against the wall and getting as unfortunately close to zero as possible. But things always seem to shape up.
The biggest challenges overall have been my ventures being so wildly different. But what I’ve learned between the three has been invaluable. There are similarities that help you face the challenges, avoid mistakes, and optimize each business.
How do you approach challenges and overcome them?
Patrick Frank: After going through those trials and tribulations and getting smacked in the face a few times where we’ve had to make hard decisions to keep the business alive, we’ve managed to come out on the other side.
With Float Factory, we initially approached the business with modest expectations. We didn’t even have a website at first — just Amazon listings. But we ended up going viral and selling out of all of our initial units The COVID-related supply chain issues posed a significant challenge for us.
We had to find a way to acquire more units while preventing counterfeit products from entering the market. Suddenly, our “just for fun” side project transformed into a larger operation.
What we ended up doing was basically working almost 24 hours a day. We didn’t want to distract too much from our initiatives with Patient Partner. We set Float Factory up so the company could exist and capitalize on the opportunity we had created.
Over the past year and a half, we have seen the opportunity expand, and we brought in individuals to help us rebrand the company and step into leadership roles so that we could focus full-time on PatientPartner.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
Patrick Frank: I feel like every day I learn a hundred lessons, and I still have a million more to go. One crucial lesson I’ve learned is understanding what actually constitutes a problem and what does not.
If it affects the integrity of the business, it gets handled immediately. If it seems important but doesn’t have a pressing deadline, it can wait. Occasionally, you encounter urgent situations, such as a lost shipment or a website going down, and those take priority before anything else can move forward.
The second most important lesson that now applies to everything I do is the tough lesson of learning how to scale responsibly. Slowing down has always been difficult for me, but learning to take a step back and evaluate the road ahead before taking action has paid dividends ever since I started practicing it.
Examples of this can be seen in the market cycle over the past two years, where there was a massive hype of fundraising and building at all costs. We fell into that trap, and building too quickly led to over hiring, underdelivering, and wasting time and money on the wrong things in the wrong areas.
We took a step back and focused on the 80/20 rule — what is generating 80% of the results? That’s where our focus needs to be.
With Patient Partner, for example, I’m concentrating on conversations, engagement, and ensuring that patients are connected with one another. Creating an incredible experience for them and our customers is what holds the most value. That’s why today, 80% of our time is dedicated to it.
What do you think makes a good, effective leader?
Patrick Frank: When I contemplate what constitutes a good leader, whether a CEO, founder, or co-founder, it’s the ability to seamlessly shift between different scales within your business at any moment.
You need to be capable of operating at the very lowest level of the business, doing the things that no one else wants to do, while simultaneously being able to zoom out of the business and think five, ten, or thirty years ahead of where you’re currently at.
Knowing the right direction to pursue and ensuring you have the right people to accompany you are the two most critical components for any leader and their company’s success. Though it is not always clear, having that intuitive gut feeling and listening to it is what sets great CEOs apart from ineffective leaders.
I think sometimes we dream so big that we follow our minds’ desires. Instead of saying, “I need to make a million dollars by the end of this quarter,” it should be, “Hey, how can I make $100 more today?”
You cannot construct a great building without a solid foundation, and good, effective leaders need to know how to establish that foundation and then proceed to scale responsibly.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Patrick Frank for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Patrick Frank or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.