Today is my two year anniversary at Kowork, a lovely co-working space in downtown London. When I arrived here two years ago, I was depleted in every way. I was out of money as I had slowed down my law practice three years prior to focus on my passionate interest, which is allergy safety. I accomplished a lot in those three years by building this top ranking allergy blog with over 250,000 unique visitors per year, a wonderfully interactive Facebook group, and my trademark Best EpiPen Belts that my customers really appreciate. Nothing had worked out well financially though, and let’s face it, my previous six figure income from law is very hard to match.
I’d been isolated in all my previous work spaces, having shared office suites with other professionals. There’s little interaction in those environments, and most people I encountered weren’t happy in their jobs. Arriving at Kowork was nourishing for my soul, since here in this shared work space, lots of people greet you when you arrive. They chat with you here and there, and you gradually get to know them. They even acknowledge your birthday and bring in lunch to celebrate. I felt that I’d landed in the right place, and though I couldn’t figure out how things would work out with my career, I knew in my gut that somehow they would.
It was that month that I attended the Allergy Update Conference in Toronto, and as always, I shared my hopes and dreams with the people I met at the event’s cocktail party. I laid everything on the table, as at that point, I was running out of time and money. I told the Pfizer EpiPen Rep who was there that I hoped to create an online allergy first aid course and epinephrine kits that hang on the wall like a defibrillator, but I needed a partner who was licensed to buy epinephrine directly from Pfizer. Without a moment’s hesitation, he told me to call Allergy Canada, as they buy 100 EpiPens from Pfizer at a time. There are very few licensed buyers, and most buy in huge lots to sell only to drugstores, so this lead was very important to me.
I called Allergy Canada the Monday following the conference, and the owner Dr. Mark Greenwald called me back. We chatted about my ideas by phone and then met in person. At our second meeting, Mark told me that if I had the time to develop the kits and course, he would put up the money. I had finally found someone who shared my vision and would help make it happen! By September, just five months after I arrived at Kowork, Mark and I had Articles of Incorporation and a signed Shareholders Agreement in place, and EpiCenter Medical had been born.
By December of 2012, Mark and I were well into production of our online anaphylaxis first aid course, and because our projects were taking all my time, it was agreed that I would work full time for the company. I was given the wonderful privilege to pursue my passionate interest on a full time basis with pay! This was my dream come true.
The course went live on April 3, 2013, exactly one year and one day from the date I arrived at Kowork. I had worked intensely for nine months on it in a heightened state of creativity, and I’m amazed at how well it came out. Mark and I collaborated very well on script writing and on visual story telling, and the experience and skills I learned creating this e-learning course are priceless.
My work wasn’t done with the launch of the course, and I spent many months ensuring that it operates smoothly and free of bugs in every browser and gathering user feedback. I had revisions to make to our prototype epinephrine kit, I developed and maintained all our websites, and I handled customer service, all communications, blogging, and social media. This was a drastic change from my previous career as a divorce lawyer, and it was extremely stimulating and educational.
Last month, all my tasks were completed, and I decided to resign as Director and employee of EpiCenter Medical. I had created what I sought to create and had even learned that the course had saved a life. I was again depleted, Mark and I had no sales help or clear marketing plans, we were barely in communication, and he indicated he would no longer provide a salary for me. I’ll still provide my EpiPen holders and belts, which is mostly a public service, and happily they too have now been credited with saving a life (to read that story, click here). Now, Mark is now in charge of day to day operations, though I remain co-owner and equal shareholder. I’m excited to see where our company goes from here.
The one year anniversary of the course launch is tomorrow, and in the one year it’s been live, users have trained in sixteen countries on five continents (all but Africa and Antarctica). We made the course free to individual users a few months ago, and it feels wonderful to provide that for the safety of the allergic community. With States mandating that epinephrine be stocked in schools and that groups of teachers and staff be trained in its use, we are ahead of the wave with the only group training product in this category.
Safety is not only important for kids in schools, it’s important at all the places allergic people go, and entire municipalities are looking at improving allergy safety for their residents by installing epinephrine kits in restaurants, food courts, and other public places. It truly feels wonderful to have created the Epi-Kits they need and to know that they will save lives.
My blog readers, Facebook group members, and the wonderful friends I’ve made online through the years have always overwhelmed me with their support. Thank you for being on this adventure with me.
As I was proof reading this article, as life would have it, my coworkers came up behind me singing Happy Anniversary with a candle in a cupcake and an anniversary card. You may see the tears in my eyes in this photo. I am feeling truly blessed.