Abram Liverio and Todd St. Louis were frustrated. As sales representatives for the medical technology company Stryker, they had to obtain schedules from 73 hospitals one by one, to make sure operating-room instruments and other devices were delivered on time. They knew there had to be a better way.
But there wasn’t at that time in 2013—and they spotted opportunity. Dreaming of creating a cloud-based database for real-time scheduling, they liquidated their 401(k)s to hire a developer, left their six-figure positions behind and launched OR TRAX, a Tampa Bay-based startup.
“We took a chance,” says Liverio, 39.
With no corporate jobs to support them, they were determined to make it work. “This was around the time The 4-Hour Workweek came out,” recalls Liverio. “One of the things Tim Ferriss pointed out was if you are going to start your own business. start in an industry you know. This makes perfect sense with what we are doing. It pushed me over the edge, to take that step.”
Their network of professional connections helped them get off to a promising start. Their first client was a small surgery center in Tampa. By year two they had reached about $12,000 in annual revenue. “At the end of the second year, I had negative $11 in my bank account,” jokes Liverio, who sold his watch collection and refinanced his car to get them over the hump.
Six months later, OR TRAX landed a big client, which led to more accounts. “We’re so niche that we do zero marketing,” says Liverio. “We don’t advertise. Everything is organic. Hospitals want to know what other hospitals are doing.”
When Covid hit, the company saw a surge of demand for its technology from hospitals. “They wanted to tighten up who was in the facility and started reaching out,” says Liverio. Some facilities used the company’s product to track vaccinations
Liverio kept a business journal for three years—an idea he learned from the late Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker and entrepreneur—keeping it at his desk to remind himself of the early days. “It was funny looking at my thought process,” he says.
Today, the nine-year-old company brings in $2.4 million in annual revenue, with a four-person team, according to Liverio. Most of its revenue comes in through three- or four-year contracts.
Liverio’s advice to other budding entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting a business? Choose one you’re passionate about. “Unless you are obsessed with it, I don’t think it will be successful,” he says. “You have to have the creativity, discipline and perseverance to succeed. Motivation goes away. What replaces motivation is discipline.”