Review of Ted McLaughlin

DiSorb SystemsMany times, when you hear from entrepreneurs about their experiences and success stories, it all seems very…unattainable. Their achievements are surrounded by circumstances specific to them, and it’s often hard to relate. What if you’re not a wizard at code or computers? What if you’re not a gifted salesperson? What if you’re not a genius in any area? What if the only thing you know you’re passionate about (at the ripe old age of 21) is figuring out how to shove enough class, homework, social activities, Netflix, and sleep in one day? Well, that’s okay. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you just have to know enough to get started and then be willing to learn once you get going.

This is one of the key things I learned from Ted McLaughlin, currently the president of DiSorb Systems and KM Custom Pack. After attending Villanova as an undergraduate, he spent several years as a salesperson for Baxter Pharmaceutical, during which he saw an opportunity to sell used hospital equipment for a profit. He had been in the industry long enough to know about the equipment he was selling and to have built a network of relevant contacts. So he started “hustling medical equipment” (his words). And that’s how he became an entrepreneur.

He has since started two other very successful businesses, DiSorb Systems and KM Custom Pack, learning how to do almost everything on the fly. He had enough knowledge to recognize an opportunity around hospital equipment, and later hospital waste management, and he was able to learn the rest. Ted being so candid about his inexperience was comforting.

His story also yielded one more important insight that I had not heard before: start a business while you’re still working. Many times you hear the story of someone dropping everything in order to start their business, but Ted advised against this, saying that entrepreneurs should be diversified. By having multiple income streams, starting a business becomes less risky and often times more attainable. Ted even stated that most of the entrepreneurs he knows have multiple businesses for that very reason. This was an interesting insight because it paints a different and more relatable portrait of the elusive “entrepreneur” that many students are seeking to become. According to Ted’s experience, entrepreneurs are simply willing and able to learn, and they practice this in as many situations as possible.