Charles Morgan and Stephen Canon Talk IA Firms PrivacyStar and Phyzit at TEDx

July 27, 2015

Little Rock hosted its first independently organized TED event on Friday and Innovate Arkansas client firms PrivacyStar and Phyzit were represented. 

TEDxMarkhamSt sold out the Ron Robinson Theater in the River Market and featured speakers such as global gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith of Little Rock; civil rights activist Minnijean Brown Trickey, a member of the Little Rock Nine in 1957; Clinton School of Public Service Dean Skip Rutherford; and IA client firm founders Charles Morgan of PrivacyStar and Dr. Stephen Canon on Phyzit.

Coverage of the morning session from Arkansas Business is available here, and see more on the full lineup of speakers here.

Morgan and Canon were among the last speakers, part of the fourth session that ran into Friday evening.

Morgan (at right with event organizer Salil Joshi -- thanks Mike), best known as the former CEO of big data giant Acxiom, shared nuggets of his entreprenurial wisdom:

  • Have a plan and clear vision and focus.
  • Surround yourself with outstanding people; people matter most.
  • Business culture matters.
  • People gravitate to a strong leader.
  • No plan is good for long: Be prepared to change your plan when necessary.
  • Empower people at all levels.
  • Eliminate the things that get in the way.
  • You have to be willing to take measured risks but don't bet more than you can afford to lose.

Morgan said building a successful business culture is one of the most important things a founder will do, and he admitted to following in Sam Walton's footsteps.

At Acxiom, employees were called associates and customers were referred to as partners. 

Morgan said he's tried to apply all the things he learned at PrivacyStar. 

"Sometimes you forget how hard it is to be an entrepreneur," he said.

After some initial growing pains, Morgan said his startup -- which developed a smartphone app enabling users to block unwanted calls and texts -- is in growth mode. It helped that Morgan was able to infuse some of his own capital to keep the company afloat, he admitted.

His patience paid off. 

"Our little company is growing like crazy, doubling and tripling revenue every year," he said.

PrivacyStar is moving with Inuvo, a targeted mobile marketing firm on whose board Morgan sits, from Conway to the Museum Center in the River Market District. Morgan is excited about being in downtown Little Rock and the growth of the tech startup ecosystem in central Arkansas.

He advised entrepreneurs to test their ideas against reality before launching.

"I hear so many new 'great ideas,'" Morgan said. "Your idea can be 10 times better than anyone else's but you've got to have the money and resources to make it happen. There's just so much noise out there."

Canon talked health-care tech, something his Little Rock startup aims to advance by making it easier for doctors and patients to communicate post-hospital release. Transitional care management is dysfunctional, and the Phyzit TCM app is the solution, Canon believes.

Canon said when it comes to health care, doctors seem to work for the tech and not vice versa.

"The power of the cell phone has not been realized in health care as it has been in banking or education," he said. 

The Affordable Care Act may have its critics, but Canon said everyone could agree that health care needs to improve. He said health care's "triple aim" should be:

  • Enhance the patient experience.
  • Improve the health of the general population.
  • Reduce costs.

And if the quality of work life for health-care professionals could be improved in the process, than all the better, he said. Health care can be so dysfuctional, Canon said, that he believes one day people will stop seeking it out as a career option.

Phyzit aims to reduce hospital readmissions by enabling patients to connect with a doctor without having to drive to an office and wait. Currenbtly, Phyzit is used in 20 offices in five states.

"Any kind of connection with a patient at home is a huge step forward," he said.

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