VENTEUR spoke with Jaswant S. Tony, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GoMeyra, about his entrepreneurial journey. GoMeyra is a cloud software company that provides enterprise-level technological solutions for the healthcare industry. A leader in the industry and an expert at developing IT systems, Tony has more than 20 years of experience designing, developing, configuring, and troubleshooting large enterprise and service-provider networks. Previously at iStreamPlanet, Tony designed the content streaming technology that is now owned and operated by Warner Bros. Television and developed the technology for several worldwide live streaming events, including NBC’s televised coverage of five Olympic games and Super Bowl XLV.
The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?
While it wasn’t easy, I have learned to trust others to get their work done and to do it well. While there have been times when I have been disappointed in the results, I find that most put forth their best effort. Early on in this journey, I realized that I would fail if I didn’t trust others.
It is impossible to do everything yourself.
The only way to succeed is to have people use their expertise to help get you to where you want to go.
The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur? If yes, what was that experience like, and how did you overcome it?
I did, and I occasionally still do, experience loneliness. It comes when I am faced with making big decisions for my company.
While I work with some great people, where big decisions are concerned, it is solely up to me. There is no one else to lean into, and I am often alone in making these decisions.
For instance, the loneliest I have ever felt was when I needed to restructure the company.
In the beginning, I hired a couple of people I have worked with in the past, and it became clear that it was not the best decision.
They weren’t a good fit, and the company was suffering. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and I had to decide to let those people go. That was a very lonely time.
What role has intuition played in your success as an entrepreneur, and why do you think this is the case?
I would say my intuition is the reason I started GoMeyra in the first place. When a local medical lab contracted my IT company to help with their technology needs, COVID-19 was ramping up. Suddenly, a lockdown was in effect.
I saw that the lab’s information management system (LIMS) was highly inefficient and soon found it was the same for the majority of labs in the US. It was apparent that the technology most labs were using was outdated, which made them unable to process tests quickly enough during a public health crisis. It quickly became clear that this was a primary cause for the COVID testing bottleneck our country was experiencing, and this testing process urgently needed a solution. I wanted to help and knew I could do it better. That is when GoMeyra was born.
How has entrepreneurship catalyzed your healing or expanded your consciousness?
I am learning to reward people for the work they’ve already achieved and not for what they are planning to accomplish. It has helped to control my nature and stay within the boundaries of business norms.
For instance, one of my employees had financial difficulties when their car broke down. I jumped in and bought him a new car. However, a month later, the employee quit and found another job. I know this sounds negative, but it was a favorable situation for me. At the time, I didn’t think I was giving, as a gift, the car to get something in return, but afterward, I realized I had been doing just that subconsciously.
I realized I expected them to remain with me for a long time and give a bit extra to the job. This was the wrong way to go about it, and I needed to think about how I motivate and incentivize our team members. If I do anything like this in the future, it will be a reward for work already completed.
What do you think the most significant difference is between how an entrepreneur sees their career path versus how an employee at a company sees their career path, and why?
While there are many good employees worldwide, the bottom line is that they work for a paycheck. This mindset is not wrong, but it is very different than if you are an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs will always look for ways to improve customer interaction to ensure clients are happy regardless of time. They will constantly be evaluating their business experience for customers and employees. Employees will see the company by what it can do for them and their future.
The Psychological Warfare
Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you had a similar experience? If you haven’t, why do you think this is the case?
I have been fortunate not to have experienced these feelings.
I am not, by nature, an insecure person.
On the contrary, I have confidence in my capabilities and do not harp too much on my self-worth.
It probably also stems from the fact that I do not have trouble sleeping. Regardless of the situation I am in, falling asleep has always come easy for me.
I experience sleep as a cure-all, and often, I find myself solving problems in my sleep.
So much so that I have learned to use rest to my advantage.
Newer entrepreneurs often equate their success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality?
It is only natural to equate your success with your business, especially with entrepreneurs. We put our heart and soul into the business to the point where nothing else matters. Hence, it only makes sense to measure ourselves by this barometer.
If my company is doing poorly, it affects every aspect of my life. I have had a failed company in the past, and it did make me feel like a failure at first. But rather than give up, I assessed the situation, determined what went wrong, and moved on.
I took solace in the fact that I could see the mistakes and knew that if the opportunity arose again to start another business, I would be ready.
And I was glad when I began GoMeyra.
What are your three biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?
1. The Future
I assume this is probably first on the list for most entrepreneurs. Since GoMeyra was born out of the pandemic, the unknown future has been a particular fear for me. While we are pivoting to develop other products to help the healthcare industry, the company’s future direction always looms large.
2. Being Responsible for My Employees
As a business owner, people rely on you for their livelihood, so there is extra motivation for me to make the business successful for them. I try to minimize the expenses as much as possible, as being economical with your resources can help.
3. Financial Solvency
Do you have enough money to keep the business? This question is always at the back of an entrepreneur’s mind. And no matter how successful you become, it will always be a question that you should constantly ask yourself.
While there is no solution per se for these fears, the steps you take to run your business can help mitigate the fear. Keeping an open mind to all the options available helps me know that I am doing everything I can to be successful. Do not just stick to one strict plan. Rather understand that there are many ways your business can and will succeed that will ease your fears.
What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?
1. Relying on Others’ Money
I started a company many years ago, and then 9/11 hit. Everything stopped. Investors pulled out, and customers dried up. I was taking money from the reserve accounts to survive.
Ultimately, I had to shut down. It wasn’t easy, but eventually, I started consulting and working for other people until I found my equilibrium again. Overall, it was a great learning experience, as it taught me never to rely on other people’s money again.
And when I started GoMeyra nearly 20 years later, I self-funded the entire operation.
2. Ignoring My Instincts
When I first started GoMeyra, I hired people who I had worked with in the past and ignored my instincts. Unfortunately, it soon became evident that a couple of these employees were not cut out for the job. It simply wasn’t working.
This strained my relationship with these colleagues and the employees performing well. Considering the health of our company and the employees affected, it became clear that a tough decision needed to be made.
By reorganizing the corporate structure, I could provide everyone a more productive and efficient working environment.
3. Hiring Friends and Family of Employees
While this may seem related to the previous one, it is a bit different, and I have also experienced this situation.
If something goes wrong with either person you hire, you will inevitably have a problem with the other person.
Therefore, I’ve found it best not to hire friends and family of employees if you have the option not to.
What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?
1. Taking Good Advice From Other People in a Similar Situation
Most people think they know everything, but we all know they don’t. So, they do what they feel is right, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
2. Learning From Their Mistakes
I have seen many entrepreneurs do the same thing repeatedly. If it didn’t work the first time, it probably wouldn’t work again, so move on and find a different way.
3. Moving Too Fast
We all want things to happen quickly, but if it is rushed for expediency, then mistakes will be made. Instead, take the time to get it right–you will be much better off in the long run.
What are three seemingly insurmountable obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?
1. Getting New Clients
Going from a company that didn’t exist two years ago was difficult. But I decided to make some noise; once (sometimes more) a month, I would distribute news announcements so clients would know about our products and any new achievements. And it led to bringing new clients on board with every announcement mentioned above.
2. Figuring Out the Best People To Partner With
Not knowing who might make the best partner can leave you hesitant. Doing your due diligence and meeting with as many people from the potential partnering company as possible is essential. Also, asking the hard questions that most people step lightly around can help you determine the best partners.
3. Being Pulled In Too Many Directions
As the programmer and developer of the new products for my business and the face of the company for sales and existing clients, I can pose a real challenge. I was helped tremendously when I hired an operations manager who ensured existing business and current employees were being taken care of. This relieved me of a big obstacle and allowed me to be more productive than I needed.
How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?
This is tough, as a new entrepreneur is likely working 24/7. The only advice I can give is if you stay at that pace, know you will do worse than fail; your health will suffer. You must prioritize your health and understand that you will be no good to anyone if you do not.
What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey more accessible, and why?
I can’t think of anything that has made a difference, but I can share a few tips that have helped me on my entrepreneurial journey:
1. Keep Your Family Close
Having my wife and daughter by my side has made my life easier, more than I can even say.
2. Belief in Your Product
If you start doubting the product or service you provide, the journey will become arduous, and you will likely fail.
3. Understanding the Need That Your Product Can Fulfill
Since our product was solving a public health crisis, it motivated us to get it into the right hands. Knowing what and who will benefit from your product can be practical and empowering.