Named a top 10 transformational leader of healthcare and EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2020, NeuroFlow’s CEO Chris Molaro is on a mission to bridge the gap between mental and physical health.
After five years of service in the U.S. Army, Chris returned home from Iraq to a broken and inefficient healthcare system for both veterans and civilians. Chris’s personal experience and those of his soldiers shaped his perspective on healthcare and drove his decision to take on the biggest issues facing the industry today — lack of access to quality care and engagement with treatment.
Chris has been a featured speaker for the American Psychological Association, Partners Health World Innovation Forum, interviewed on SiriusXM radio, NBC, and in multiple healthcare and business focused podcasts, profiled in multiple publications, guest lectured at Penn’s Engineering school, and provided his expert opinion on CMS policies.
Chris graduated from the United States Military Academy and earned his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
CONSCIOUS ENTREPRENEURSHIP — What meaning do you give this term?
I see conscious entrepreneurship as a way to connect the problems or issues you come across in your lived experiences and address them through creative solutions. For example, I founded Things We Read as a result of a problem I experienced firsthand about the lack of high quality reading materials for the military community. One of the first things we did at NeuroFlow was establish and define our core values; they serve as consistent reminders of why we’re here. One of my favorites which gets at this question is “be on a mission to build social value.” The frequent thank you notes, positive reviews and personal stories we get from patients and providers serve as a frequent reminder of the critical value we provide to everyday people.
MENTORS — We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been an invaluable mentor for you? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I’ve had the great fortune of having many mentors throughout my life and the different stages of my career — from grade school teachers and coaches to college to my Army career and now in business. As corny as it may sound, my Dad is my most invaluable mentor. He taught me the value of hard work, doing things the “right” way, and that your relationships with people and the trust that you espouse means more than anything. My Dad raised me and my sister Alyssa as a single father, working three jobs to provide for us, while putting himself through college to which he went back to when he was in his forties. He demonstrated what it means to not give up on yourself and that sacrifices pay off.
TO THRIVE — When you see yourself thriving: Do you see yourself opening up opportunities for others along the way to participate in your success, and how?
As I’ve progressed in my career as an entrepreneur, I’m reminded constantly about ignoring the things you can’t control and instead focusing on the things you can, and one of those is the people you hire and surround yourself with on a daily basis. We’ve grown so much over these past few years, and I’ve shifted from being more hands on to empowering our leadership team and employees to reach their top potential. Again, it comes back to our values, one of which is “strive for personal excellence and holistic self-improvement.” I want to make sure that whether it is personally or professionally, I can help create positive opportunities for our team members.
CAUSE — What are the causes close to your heart, and you are supporting right now? Can you share a story how you got involved? How did it make you feel?
It’s hard to separate the personal from the business when it comes to NeuroFlow. Given the breadth of the mental health crisis, everyone has a connection to someone who’s hurting and realizes that when it comes to connecting physical and mental health through technology, failure is not an option. Personally, one of the soldiers under my command was struggling with depression when he returned home. He was diagnosed and flagged, but he never followed up on his appointments, no provider was able to ever check in on his depression, and ultimately he completed suicide. This was a failure on so many levels, and it helped to ignite my mission to leverage technology to provide better access and engagement to behavioral health care for those that need it the most. Today, we’re contracted to work with the VA, U.S. Air Force, Wounded Warrior Project, and have some of the most rewarding partnerships with military organizations to identify and address mental health symptoms before it becomes too late.
THE FUTURE — How do you see the face of entrepreneurship in 5 years? How do companies /brands need to adapt to secure their place in the future?
The pandemic has resulted in significant job losses and has put hundreds of thousands of households in a precarious financial position. However, this is nothing new to the average entrepreneur. Being scrappy and nimble has its perks, and you’re going to see a lot more employers seek out these skills. You’re also going to see more entrepreneurs take control of their careers, as they put new ideas and innovation into practice. Between mid-March and mid-April of this year, nearly 300 start-up loans worth about $153 million were awarded by the Small Business Administration, a sign that more people are taking the proverbial “plunge”. You look at companies like Shopify and Squarespace — entrepreneurial enablers — that are thriving right now. The incumbent brands should be concerned, as new technologies have empowered a generation of entrepreneurs to launch, pivot, and embrace a new model of success.
ADVICE — What kind of advice would you like to give to an aspiring entrepreneur who feels limited due to their background or lack of resources?
Don’t ever let opinions of others derail your dreams. We heard 141 “nos” when trying to secure funding from angel investors. We learned from each and every one of those, and remained dogged in our efforts. Eventually, as the wellbeing of the business was on the line, we connected with a longtime angel investor who believed in us and our vision and he’s still with us today! You have a bigger network than you realize and advocates in your corner. Entrepreneurship requires a short memory and thick skin, so develop those characteristics early. Some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs didn’t follow a traditional path to success.
DRIVE — Do you sometimes feel bad for “wanting more out of life”, and if so, why? What is your personal motivation that leads you through the hardships of entrepreneurship?
Not at all! I’m not much into material things like fancy cars but I do love learning new things, testing myself, improving and “wanting more out of life” in a personal growth sense. At NeuroFlow we have a value that says “strive for personal excellence and holistic self-improvement” and another one that says “dare to be great.” I am a big believer in the old adage that asserts what’s important is the journey not the destination. I am super proud of our mission at NeuroFlow and that the journey we’re on, if successful, leaves us making a positive difference and impact on other peoples’ lives as well.
YOU — Is there anything you would like to share that we have not asked you here?
The questions before have led to this theme hopefully, but it is important to call out that nothing about entrepreneurship, innovation, success, or failure is done alone. Entrepreneurship is a team sport, and being conscious about it is really important, because we are a sum of the collective effort, and the only way we will truly succeed is if we surround ourselves with people that complement us, make us better, and lift each other up. This principle has been reaffirmed to me time and time again — from when I played hockey as a kid to when I served in the Army to when I co-founded NeuroFlow.
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Demee Koch about the MEDIUM interview series on CONSCIOUS ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
Conscious entrepreneurship for me is about building a sustainable business that values and respects the resources used and makes an effort of giving back to society.
I believe we need entrepreneurs to really get involved in the causes close to their heart.
This is why I reach out to entrepreneurs that aim for more than generating profit. With this interview, I aim to share entrepreneurial purpose-led passion to inspire others.
Looking forward to learn from you. Reach out to me via LinkedIn.