Scott Decker | Crain's Portland

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Scott Decker

About the company:  

HealthSparq is a company working to help people make smarter health choices by shopping for health care services online. 

The Mistake:

My first business was in the middle of the dot.com world. There were two paths I could take the company, one being an established market and the other was a more sexy, new market where we were going to tie together consumers, doctors and hospitals and let them share information. 

I made the choice to go down the sexy path. We had really cool technology but the market didn’t quite understand it; there was no market for it. We had to try and convince people that what we wanted to do was something they needed. 

I think my mistake was not picking something that you know you can do. I see it all the time; entrepreneurs think they've built something really cool but there is no one there to buy it. That's the mistake, building something without a market.

We had really cool technology but the market didn’t quite understand it.

The Lesson:

Go after a real market. Don't try to create one from scratch because it's really tough to create a market for the first time. Try to find opportunities where there is a real opportunity, especially as a startup. I use that filter and lens all the time to hopefully not get myself back into that problem again. 

It's the first conversation I have with my team if I am looking at a new business: Who is going to buy it? If we can't answer that, then it is a pretty short conversation. 

Follow Scott Decker on Twitter at @scottdeckerHSQ

Pictured: Scott Decker | Photo courtesy of HealthSparq

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