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Marysville, Ohio

Beth Sanders of LifeBio

Meet Beth Sanders, founder of LifeBio, an online network of stories from individuals with health challenges and seniors reaching the end of their lives.
What is LifeBio?
 LifeBio captures life stories to improve health. LifeBio’s web-based system builds instant biographies of people who are facing health challenges or reaching the end of their lives. LifeBio licenses our web-based software to senior care and health care settings across the U.S. and Canada. Retirement living, assisted living, dementia care, hospitals, cancer centers, health insurers, hospices, and senior services government agencies are some of our clients – a $1 billion market.
How did you come up with the idea?
My own grandmother’s life story was the inspiration for starting LifeBio, especially as she was experiencing the early-stages of dementia. One of the most amazing things I ever did was this visit with my grandma and I said, “Tell me your story.” This opened a door to a whole new relationship. I was changed and she was changed. I learned things that I would never have been known or shared if I hadn’t asked the right questions. LifeBio helps people know what to ask and we make it easy for people to have these important conversations while there is still time. Typing in answers, uploading pictures, video, audio and more. Especially in health care and senior care, people need to be deeply known. Not just as a patient, but as a whole person.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
There was a time when I thought, “Why doesn’t everyone start their own company?” This is fun, interesting, and not so hard.” Then I realized that, over time, things do get tough, decisions get bigger, the economy doesn’t always cooperate, etcetera. But the rewards start to come and it’s all good! So starting a business isn’t for everyone.
I think that more people should give it a try and go after a dream. We need a much more entrepreneurial spirit in Ohio and across the U.S. I hope most college students don’t expect someone to give them a job. They need to make their own future. 
Where did you find your first employee?
I found my first employee using Craigslist believe it or not. I explained exactly what I was looking for and I found the right person. I’ve used it many times since. It works.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
LifeBio currently has clients from Nova Scotia, Canada to Los Angeles, California, and everywhere in between. So a day consists of responding to phone calls or emails from prospective clients or current clients from everywhere. My sales and support team are used to not being physically onsite at the client’s locations. We do a lot of web meetings with video. The day includes creating email blasts, working on SEO, or designing our latest brochure for an upcoming tradeshow. Mainly we are selling via phone, web and email. That’s what high growth, software-as-a-service companies serving the health care field do!
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
We have a friendly, well-educated workforce in Ohio. I think many people understand the importance of good communication and keeping connections strong between loved ones. It really makes sense that a company like LifeBio is based in the heart of Ohio.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I’ve benefited greatly from education that has come through TechColumbus, such as the TechEssentials program. Everyone should sign up for this course at TechColumbus as a new tech business. I also attracted my first Ohio angel investor, Ray Shealy, by presenting at the first Wakeup Startup at The Ohio State University.
Founders Factory in Columbus has also invested in LifeBio, so we appreciate their thoughtful leadership and interest in tech startups like us. There is a great network of people in Central Ohio ready and willing to help entrepreneurs succeed.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
My first angel investor, based in San Francisco, invested after a 10 minute Skype phone call. He had been following LifeBio’s work. I thought that he would find what we do interesting, as it had been an area that he had researched, but I was so amazed that he clearly saw the vision and he said, “Yes!”
What inspires you?
I am inspired by challenges. I don’t know why, but when I think something is going to be really difficult, it makes me want to achieve it even more. I am inspired by invention. I like the creative process and watching our company’s ideas become reality. Most of all, I am inspired by the hundreds of 80, 90, and 100 –year-olds I have met – the Greatest Generation –  in LifeBio’s work in senior care and health care. If they can survive Iwo Jima and fight for my freedom, then I can use that free enterprise system to keep working and building a great company that tells their amazing life stories.
What founders do you admire and why?
Henry Bryan, the first president of 3M. 3M faced challenges as they launched. They kept pivoting to what their customers wanted. They persevered, did many new things, blazed a trail, and became one of the most successful companies in the world. They have a great corporate culture that rewards internal innovation. LifeBio has that same kind of spirit.
What’s next for you?
LifeBio will continue to build our client base with innovators who see the importance of mental health and want to deliver the best quality of care. Every person has a story to tell, so we hope more individuals or even home care providers will be gathering life stories, too. Also, LifeBio has many more features to add to enhance the multimedia experience, sharing, and mobile capabilities that our clients are going to want next. We’re beginning a round of funding to support major growth in the next 3-5 years.
Interview by Joe Baur

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