The Spirit of Entrepreneurship
It takes a certain amount of tenacity to go it alone professionally. Needless to say, tenacity is something Ali Youssef doesn’t lack. Below, Youssef, the CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based USOC Medical, discusses why he started his own company and what he wants to tell his fellow HTM professionals about believing in themselves.
24×7 Magazine: What factors led to the creation of USOC Medical?
Ali Youssef: When I previously worked as an engineer for other companies, I felt underestimated; I was smarter than they acknowledged. I wanted to make my mark on the biomed field, and I knew that I could do 10 times more than what I was doing at the time.
Another factor was that I wanted to get to know more people in the field. As USOC grew, I have been able to meet others in the biomed field and grow a social network. And as my business has grown and I’ve hired more employees, I have continued to meet more people. Now, USOC employees feel like family to me. It’s a good feeling.
24×7: How has USOC Medical evolved since its establishment? How do you expect it to evolve even more in the coming years?
Youssef: When I started USOC, I did everything myself; sales, customer service, engineering, [working as a] technician—even shipping and receiving, I did it all. I started by doing business with hospitals in Canada and slowly expanded my business in the United States. As we expanded our reach, we also expanded our company.
[My background as] an engineer helped me as I established USOC. For example, instead of replacing entire [mother]boards in units, I would troubleshoot the boards. This proved to be cost-effective, and the money we saved in repairing units went to hiring more people and investing more into the company. The way I see it, this growth, our employees’ continued efforts, and the new website layout [that we recently rolled out] will help us to continue to expand the company.
24×7: What do you believe are some of the biggest challenges in the HTM field? How is USOC Medical working to alleviate them?
Youssef: The first challenge is pricing. New technologies and devices make repairing equipment more expensive. The second challenge involves the newer boards in new technologies. Newer units have boards with much smaller components than their predecessors, which makes it difficult to fix those components. After all, the smaller the tech parts, the more challenging it becomes to repair them.
The best way to alleviate this challenge is to continue to send our techs to get OEM-certified. Although they already have extensive knowledge on new patient monitoring technologies, our techs are constantly training so that they can be even better at repairing equipment. We are being proactive with research and development of new technologies, so we’re ahead of the curve and ready when the need for repairs of new tech arises. We’re also now supplying commonly broken or cracked parts for units that have common broken parts. This helps us become efficient in our repair turnaround times and cost-effective in regards to repair pricing.
24×7: You’re currently pursuing your master’s degree in electronics—congratulations! Can you please discuss the importance of further education in the HTM field?
Youssef: Not just in biomed, but in general, the more knowledge and education you have, the better you become. Knowledge and education are the necessary tools to help you gain experience—and, through experience, you will be able to run your business effectively and solve any problem as it comes. Ultimately, you will be able to push your company to the next level.
Education also helps us learn about new technologies in the biomed field. Learning about new tech means understanding how it works, and how it can be repaired efficiently. We’re hoping that, at some point in the future, we can even begin producing our own devices to compete with OEMs. This will only be possible by continuing to grow our knowledge of patient monitoring devices—[one of USOC’s core competencies].
24×7: What’s your expert advice for an HTM professional just starting out?
Youssef: Don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your goal. Everything is possible; don’t let anyone put you down or discourage you. But it’s not going to come easy. When I started USOC, I often worked through the night and would stay at the office until 3 a.m. I set goals for myself, and I worked hard to make them a reality. If you just sit at home and only work for a few hours a day, nothing will get done and you won’t achieve your goals. Do not waste your time.
Be willing to work with others. When I started remaking the website, I reached out to my team for feedback. I asked them what they wanted to have on the site and was open to their suggestions. Mixing ideas together leads to powerful results.
[Finally,] nobody is better than you. Believe that if someone can do something, you can do it yourself. All it takes is hard work. Some days you’ll encounter problems, and other days you’ll have no problems at all. The important thing to understand is that when you face those problems, you must face them head on, not give up, and work hard to resolve them. Then you have to move forward.