There are historically so many stories of immigrants achieving the ultimate business success in America. And while not too many of them are about Englishmen from Leicester yet Vick Tipnes is just a story like that.
With both of his parents originally from India moving to the UK in the 1970s Vick had always had entrepreneurial aspirations. His father being one in the textile industry has surely set out an example to follow early on.
“My dad was very frugal, so he figured out how to do everything himself and then taught us how to do it,” Tipnes says. “It was a very unorthodox upbringing, because we didn’t have family vacations, because someone always had to be at the business. It was kind of one of those experiences that really helped shape the life I wanted to lead, because I missed that we never really went anywhere together as a family.”
But how did this man come from aspirations in the UK to founding, taking care of and succeeding with the Blackstone Medical group worth more than 50 million dollars? Not to mention have it partnered with so many prolific insurance giants? Well, it all started out slow and rough in 2010 with him discovering a sleeping test medical equipment niche.
But as soon as his own personal interest with the medical equipment started taking it to being a business took a lot. Having 1 employee and working out of a kitchen plus hard work, tears and sweat as per Vick:
“I felt with my ability to sell and my knowledge in health care [Tipnes’ first business was a radiation practice], that I could provide better solution focused on better quality, access and costs for patients, physicians and insurance companies,”
[…] ” After finding an investor, who I decline to name, Blackstone moved into a small office space in South Tampa for about $500 a month. The office was so horrible, but it was all I could afford,” he says. “I remember people would come to interview and would see the office from outside and drive away.
Nevertheless, he signed a year lease. I’m a big believer in bending the physical universe to what you want, and not adapting to it. It’s like, ‘OK, now I’m going to raise the money’ because that’s how you manifest it. It’s creating a high necessity level. I’ll do it and then figure out a way to make it work,” Tipnes says. “I had the three-county deal with one insurance company and at the same time trying to obtain more. I’m out knocking on doors [to find new clients] … it was really scary, and sometimes I would ask the office next door to me to send us a fax, because no one was sending us business.”
The bottom probably happened as he was going through divorce while having a kid. Oh, and also had those few first investors ready to pull out as the company bank account had just $2500 left. How did he get through that? Willing through:
“I had a mattress on the floor in my bedroom. I had no nightstands, I had one lamp and I had no furniture except a couch and bunk beds for the kids. When I got divorced, I literally left everything. It was a pivotal moment in my life because it was at that moment that I decided I was going to make this right,” Tipnes says. “I saw this mountain of opposition against me and I’m like, ‘[Expletive] it. What do I have to lose at this point?’ I’m not a doctor. I’m not an attorney. I don’t have a trade or degree. I have a GED, so what am I going to do? All I have are my guts and my brain.”
Now obviously he’s one of the most successful young businesses in Healthcare. That staff of roughly 150 employees did not come easy but his devotion and empathy paved the way:
“All of a sudden, it hits me. All of these people have families, they have homes and cars, and it’s a sense of responsibility … where we came from, and where we are now. It’s no longer only about me succeeding, it’s about all the people who rely on me.”
Since then having been ranked in the Inc 5000 and other achievements with Blackstone. It is all growth while staying true to his employees and the purpose to help others.
“…grow Blackstone into a “Godzilla of a company,” quadrupling the size of the business. We’ll probably go from the 100 employees now to having 400 employees in three to five years.”