Start with Build

Helping Other Detroit Entrepreneurs with their Businesses

Last week, I was invited to participate in a Business Coaching Program with the BUILD Institute and Samuel Adams. It was held at the Jam Handy. BUILD Institute had coordinated for roughly 50 business coaches and 100 small business owners/start up founders to come through for business coaching.

April Boyle runs the BUILD Institute and they focus on helping entrepreneurs start businesses. They give entrepreneurs a set of tools to get started, by focusing on a curriculum with sessions regarding accounting, finance, marketing, branding, customer acquisition, leveraging capital, etc… This where I started my entrepreneurial journey, so I’m excited to be a part of this group!

It was a fun event with a ton of energy in the room - lots of great ideas and exciting new business ventures. It’s great to see a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Detroit and it was fun to be a part of this event. Here’s some pics!

Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC volunteering at the Build Institute’s Business Mentorship night at the Jam Handy in Detroit, Michigan.

Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC volunteering at the Build Institute’s Business Mentorship night at the Jam Handy in Detroit, Michigan.

Group Pics:

A funny story about the above photo session. I was in the back and obstructed, so I took a big jump and seemed to time it pretty well! You can see me leaping in the back.

Have a great day - Dr. Paul

Plum Health with the Black Health Academy

Last month, we had a great visit from and interview with Lisa A. Smith with the Black Health Academy. We first met during a small business course with the Build Institute in Detroit, and it was great getting back together for this interview! She has a passion for health and wellness and helping people reach their full potential. Here's how she tells her story on her webpage:

Lisa A. Smith, MBA, is the founder of Professionally Fit INC and The Black Health Academy. She began her own weight loss journey in 2012 at 190 lbs. She fell in love with fitness, nutrition and self-development, lost over 60 lbs and gained a bottomless amount of confidence. It wasn't until she gained confidence in her physical health that she was able to gain confidence in her career. With her new found confidence she launched Professionally Fit in July of 2015. Professionally Fit is an executive coaching platform which provides both the customization and accountability necessary for high performing entrepreneurs and executives to achieve their health and wellness goals from anywhere in the world.

Health disparities in detroit

Our conversation focused on health and wellness in the black community. There are almost unbelievable health disparities between white Americans and black Americans, and we discuss some of these differences during our interview. Lisa also highlights these disparities on her website

Here are the facts:

  • 47.8% of African Americans are considered overweight or obese
  • African Americans are 20% less likely to be treated for depression
  • 13.6% of African Americans have fair to poor health
  • 40.9% of black men over the age of 20 have high blood pressure
  • Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the leading causes of death in the black community

Topics covered during our masterclass

During our Masterclass, we discuss these health disparities, what inspired me to become a physician, the community-focused efforts at Wayne State University School of Medicine, why other physicians might not practice in a more community service-oriented way, what Plum Health is, how we manage the volume of patients in our practice, our range of services or scope of practice, the type of feedback that we've been getting from our members, trends in African American health, on not making assumptions about people's health and meeting people where they're at, and on making lifestyle recommendations versus taking medications

I really loved this interview with Lisa A Smith - it was like siting down with an old friend. If you want to learn more about her and what she does, please visit the Black Health Academy or follow her on Facebook

Thanks for reading and watching, and have a wonderful day!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

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These Mobile Businesses are Changing the Game in Detroit

Running a successful business is tough. Running a successful mobile business can be even more difficult! This week, I participated in a panel discussion that took a deep dive into what it takes to run a successful mobile business in Detroit.

The panel was a part of Build Institute's Open City series, and featured four business owners: Lisa Waud of Pot and Box, Alleah Webb of Drifter Coffee, Ebony Rutherford of Trish's Garage, and Paul Thomas, MD (that's me!) of Plum Health DPC. The panel was expertly moderated by Sarah Donnelly of TechTown Detroit

Build Institute's Open City Panel, featuring Ebony Rutherford, Alleah Webb, Paul Thomas MD, and Lisa Waud. The panel was moderated by Sarah Donnelly. The event was hosted by Build Institute's Christianne Malone.

Build Institute's Open City Panel, featuring Ebony Rutherford, Alleah Webb, Paul Thomas MD, and Lisa Waud. The panel was moderated by Sarah Donnelly. The event was hosted by Build Institute's Christianne Malone.

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Ebony Rutherford of Trish's Garage talked about the choosing the right events to attend, citing that it's easy to lose money by purchasing table space at a poorly attended event. However, turning lemons into lemonade, she would take that time at a slower event to work on her social media production and marketing.

Alleah Webb of Drifter Coffee has built a successful business around an Instagram-able/Pinterest-able mobile coffee house. Her business is among the most unique in Detroit, creating a mobile coffee experience for her audience.

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Alleah often participates in public events, like Noel Night, Open Streets Detroit, and MoPop Detroit, and she has also found success by catering to private events, like weddings. This all makes for an interesting story, and Drifter Coffee has gotten some great traditional media exposure, as in this Hour Detroit article

Lisa Waud of Pot and Box also created a ton of buzz from not only having a mobile flower shop, but also by creating The Flower House Detroit. In the panel, she talked about the pros and cons of operating out of a truck that can have adverse effects on their inventory. For example, when it's 90 degrees outside, the flowers can wilt in less than 3 hours if they are in the truck

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As a business person conscious of profit and loss, she is considering the costs and benefits of continuing the flower truck operation. It's expensive to have insurance for a mobile business and it takes a lot of energy and staffing costs to operate successfully. 

Build Institute's Open City Detroit event, held at the  Atwater Brewery , 237 Joseph Campau Ave, Detroit, MI.

Build Institute's Open City Detroit event, held at the Atwater Brewery, 237 Joseph Campau Ave, Detroit, MI.

This was an important point in the conversation! Is a pop-up business/mobile business the end goal or a means to an end? Sometimes, a mobile or pop-up business can lead to a permanent brick-and-mortar establishment. On the other hand, some entrepreneurs prefer the mobile/pop-up business model as it can greatly reduce overhead costs. 

For me, having a mobile offering in the first few months of our operation of Plum Health allowed us to operate with a low overhead while building momentum. The goal was to engage enough customers to justify leasing out an office space. Once we had enough momentum, we were able to lease out our office and build from there. 

At Plum Health, we still offer house calls to our members, but now there is an added cost to these house calls, whereas house calls were standard in the first 2 months of operation. 

All in all, this was a great panel, and I learned a great deal from my fellow panelists and from the moderator, Sarah Donnelly. To the folks at Build Institute, thanks for the invite! And I'm looking forward to the next season of Open City!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Book Review for Designing Your Life

This week, I read "Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. These two Stanford professors discuss the course that they teach on lifestyle design and guide you through the process that they have used for thousands of their students.

I enjoyed this read and they had some crucial take aways, both for individuals and larger groups. 

In the Chapter 3, the authors write "Work is fun when you're actually leaning into your strengths and you are deeply engaged and energized by what you are doing". I feel this in the core of my being and this sentiment has been a driving force behind my decision to pursue my current career. 

If you don't know about me, I left the high-speed churn of fee-for-service medicine for more meaningful and fulfilling relationship-based medicine. Plum Health is a membership model for healthcare and I routinely spend about 1 hour with each of my patients, especially during their first visit. 

As this is a new business (as of November 2016), I still work at an urgent care two days each week to pay my bills and keep my business finances separate from my personal finances. When I'm working at the urgent care, I feel drained of energy with a mental fog. It's hard for me to "lean in" to this type of work environment where patients are shuffled in and out of the office as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon to have 40 - 50 patient interactions each day at the urgent care.

Compared to my work with Plum Health, where my visits last an hour and I have roughly 2 - 5 visits per day, I am able to fully engage with my patients and lean in to the work. I leave this environment energized after learning more about the people that I take care of. I also experience joy from time to time when the care that I deliver is especially meaningful or beneficial for the people in my clinic. 

In Chapter 11, the authors discuss the importance of working and collaborating with others. They state, "We design our lives in collaboration and connection with others, because 'we' is always stronger than 'I'". They go on to relate the following: "Life design is intrinsically a communal effort. When you are way finding a step or two at a time to build, not solve, your way forward, the process has to rely on the contribution and participation of others."

This passage reminded me of the environment that I experienced while taking the Build Institute's course entitled "Co-Starters". It was awesome working in a collaborative setting, with a group of entrepreneurs working through similar but different problems. I learned a great deal from these classmates and it helped me to clarify several parts of my Life Design.  

Later in Chapter 11, the authors discuss the importance of a community, and they define a community in this way: "community is more than just sharing resources or hanging out now and then, it's showing up and investing in the ongoing creation of one another's lives". It must have kindred purpose, and the best communities have a shared goal or mission. These groups should also meet regularly, so that an ongoing conversation can be held among members.

I see the TechTown, Build Institute, and Bamboo organizations facilitating a healthy community environment for small businesses and entrepreneurship in Detroit. Being a part of these organizations and attending the different programming put on by these groups has definitely added value to my life and the development of my business. 

Thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book or the topics discussed in the book. Again, the book is called "Designing Your Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health at Build Institute

This week, I was invited to sit on a panel at the Build Institute to celebrate their 5th year of investing in and uplifting small businesses in the City of Detroit. Fortunately, I was able to take and graduate from a Build Institute course over the summer of 2016.

This Build Institute Course allowed me to develop and solidify my business plan, make connections with fellow entrepreneurs, and tap into Build's ever-expanding network of small business owners and service providers. Through Build, I was able to be a part of big events like Detroit Homecoming sponsored by Crain's Detroit. I was also able to meet future customers and future service providers like my lawyer. 

On Wednesday, I was invited to sit on a panel of small business owners who have benefitted from the Build Institute's unique programming. It featured Lana Rodriguez of Mama Coo's Boutique, April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes, April Boyle of Build Institute, and Christianne Malone of Build Institute. 

After the panel, Steve Garagiola of Local 4 News (WDIV) asked if I'd be interested in an interview. I invited him to my office at 1759 West 21st Street, Detroit MI, and he came over with his cameraman. During the interview, we discussed the basics of what we provide at Plum Health DPC. 

I was surprised at how fast the turn around time was for the interview, as it aired during the 6 pm news on Detroit's Local 4 News. In case you missed it, here's the interview!

In addition, Kurt Nagl, a writer from Crain's Detroit wrote an article about the event and it appeared on their website on Tuesday. 

Thanks so much for reading and watching!

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health DPC