EP. 4 SIDONIA SWARM
Bio: Sidonia Swarm is the founder and CEO of REAL Dietitian, a #healthtech startup focused on empowering better health through better nutrition. REAL Dietitian is an online platform, accessible through your computer, tablet or smartphone, which provides simplified access to a dietitian via phone or video appointments.
Just 6 months out of college, Sidonia has become passionate about solving a critical problem in the healthcare industry and has put to use her education in nutrition, business management, and entrepreneurship to help tackle that problem, despite the doubts and criticism from others. Sidonia is passionate to teach others how food effects health and rightfully preaches “plants before pills” so that individuals may find different alternatives to medicine.
So what’s the big problem? Low patient utilization of medical nutrition therapy; in other words, working with a dietitian.
Other than gym rats and green juicers, who might utilize a dietitian? The massive (and growing) pool of Americans who are suffering from diet-related diseases.
Need to see the numbers? 29 Million – Diabetes | 86 Million – Pre-Diabetic | 1/3 of Americans – Obesity | 67 Million – High Blood Pressure | 600,000 American Deaths – Heart Disease
Need some more stats? 34 Million Americans are eligible for medical nutrition therapy for FREE – That’s 3 hours out of the year that you can talk to a dietitian and insurance will reimburse you – Current Utilization of this: 4%
REAL Dietitian is solving the problem of low patient utilization through tele-medicine
On graduating and not going to corporate: “Some people love it, and some people are very unhappy just looking for the next step – If the world ends tomorrow, don’t you want to be doing something you love?”
“It’s amazing how much your travels and experiences can influence your career and business mindset – how you look at situations and challenges”
On handling the haters: “If no one is going to tackle the big problems then why do we wake up every morning? Why are we here to help people?”
You tell yourself, you’re doing this for a reason. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Having that faith in yourself and your business and being optimistic to take risks and make the tough decisions. It requires a lot of self-confidence to have assurance that you’re doing the right thing, and if not, own your mistake and learn from it.
“Anything you do is like a mosaic, there are so many different pieces to it, and no one fully understands that mosaic as well as you do”
The REAL Dietitian Model: Currently, there is extreme leakage in the doctor referral process for patients that need to seek nutrition therapy. REAL Dietitian is a virtual private practice where they can seek out a dietitian through phone or video appointments – basically like a private practice but online. Educating doctors to know that REAL Dietitian is a valid referral option for patients. – REAL also works with telemedicine companies who offer their services to insurance clients or through their employers.
On Investors: When you’re accepting money you want people who understand your model, as well as people who will make those connections and will give you the distribution. Waiting for the right opportunity is okay to do.
“Understanding, there’s always something better waiting. Of course you need to take opportunities, but if you don’t feel right about something, don’t do it”
When you except investment, you are kind of married to them for life!
REAL’s current investment ‘sitch’: Recently just raised their seed round – moving to Baltimore to do a pilot with Hopkins. Next: Looking to raise a Series A by the end or middle of the year. Gathering quantitative data to back up their proofs on the ‘tele-health front’.
“Ask for advice, receive money. Ask for money and receive advice.” – Actually, it’s Pitbull ☺
Morning Routine: Tea/Coffee + Green Smoothie = Take on the world!
On staying focused: Move your body to reset when you’re stressed and things don’t go according to plan. Pick up the phone and call someone you love to get some sanity back in your life and talk to someone outside of the situation
SDIHW Tip: It’s underestimated how important it is to take the down time versus continuously burning yourself out
On the ‘turning point’ decisions: Choosing to rip herself from the life and energy and “dietitian path” in Miami and going to Chicago. “I might not be where I want to be for the next couple months, couple years, but we’re going to help a lot of people doing this.”
Immediate Happiness vs. Future Happiness.
“It would be very comfortable if I stayed in Miami, became a dietitian, got a clinical role and stayed there, but I think there would be a lot of emptiness with that as well because I knew there could be more of what we’re doing”
“What is comfortable? Come on, comfortable sounds boring!”
On Delaying Gratification for Long-Term Success: “The earlier the better. Think about it, the longer you wait, the more excuses there are – Just do it”
Advice: Stick to your gut. // You know what you’re doing more than anyone else. // Just go with it. // If there’s a problem, go solve it – there’s no one better to solve it than you, if you’re the one willing to do it. // Stick to it and solve the problems.
Book: “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” – Ben Horowitz Real talk, no sugar-coating.
[[Other books mentioned (that we LOVE!): “Four Hour Work Week” – Tim Ferriss]]
“People need to become problem solvers and just own it! If you’re a problem solver, in turn you’ll become a successful entrepreneur”