Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do Entrepreneurs Care?

An Ex-Air Force Service Man Who Really Cares

The current top leadership professional in the world, John C. Maxwell, said “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”

Today I am writing about a young entrepreneur who cares; his name is John Acosta. John took an idea to market in less than two years. I knew John as a kid when his family lived in Marshall, Michigan. John’s dad and I used to work at the same company. Anyone could see then that John was an observant kid and a thinker. His family moved to Venezuela in the early 1990’s and my family visited his family in Caracas in 1992; then we lost touch. Twenty years later I met John and his family again at his wedding day back in Marshall.  John and his bride looked magnificent and happy. At the wedding reception John briefly mentioned to me about is 8 years of experience in the US Air Force and that he was soon leaving the Air Force to start his own company. We met for coffee at a Barnes and Noble bookstore in Battle Creek a week later for a chat. I realized then how serious and committed John was about his idea, his dream, and his company. Here are the phases an entrepreneur goes through to realize the dream and to savor the victory. What follows are a few nuggets from several phone and Skype conversations with John in the past 12 months.

1) The Idea
In early 2011 John Acosta’s family physician made the difficult decision to initiate home hospice care for his grandfather following a 12-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. While helping his grandmother care for her husband of 60 years, John became painfully aware of the lack of solutions available on the market to meet the particular needs of both the caregiver and the patient. As he watched his grandmother struggle to maintain her husband’s hygiene and dignified appearance, the seeds of his company, Comfort Care Clothing Co., were planted. The adaptive pajama top design represents the first of a comprehensive product line of adaptive clothing, designed to address the unique needs of critical care patients and the estimated 1.4 million Americans that participate in hospice care annually. You can learn more about the company at Be sure to watch the short video.

2) The Dream
John’s dream is to change the process of how people die. He speaks with confidence that he wants to see people to die with dignity. His dream encompasses a lot more than a product. Typical of successful entrepreneurs, John is a big reader. He says that a great book that helped crystallize his dream was “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. The book inspired John to move forward with his dream. Great books have the power to clarify our thinking and to get ideas to lead us to action.

3) The Product Concept and the Design
While still at the Air Force in Louisiana John found the time in the gaps of his life and he went immediately to work to develop his idea into a concept and a design to share with his father and mother. John’s parents have been big supporters and encouragers of him right from the beginning. John used Windows Paint to create his first product. His parents gave him thumbs up and John kept moving forward.

4) The Company and the Capital
John went to his trusted circle of friends for support. He met with five of his Venezuelan friends and they helped him connect the dots. His friends loved the concept and provided the necessary capital in exchange for part of the company; John still owns the majority. Gabor Marquez is one of his business partners. Gabor works with John on a daily basis; they are the two people at the helm of the business making things happen. The initial venture capital provided the seed money to pay John a small salary and get the company on a fast track to launch the first product.

5) The Struggles
John talks about the normal struggles entrepreneurs go through like lack of time to work on his dream business, time delays during the incubation period, finding the right patent lawyer, developing a great Power Point presentation, developing a great website, creating a high quality and low cost video to spread his mission, finding the right companies to manufacture his product, meeting his goals, and moving to Miami, Florida to open the company’s office. The time came for John to leave the Air Force so he could go ahead full throttle to get the product to market.

6) The Adventure in the Journey
There is something about entrepreneurs about loving the journey they undertake facing whatever challenges comes their way towards their victory. John is no different. He is willing to face the challenges, make the decisions, sacrifice, and do whatever it takes to cross the victory lane. When talking with him, I can feel his enthusiasm, his passion and his energy. John Eldredge in his book “Wild at Heart” writes that a man desires an adventure to live, a battle to fight, and a beauty to rescue. John, you found your beauty, you are living the adventure, and you are fighting the battles to build a purposeful business. Press on living life as a thrilling adventure!

7) The Victory
Anyone talking with John, even for a few minutes, can see that he has the initiative, the ingenuity, the imagination, and certainly the tenacity to see his dream become a reality. John’s vision is to have a company dedicated to provide a much needed help for families with end of life care. His vision also includes a link to a powerful network where people can find resources to cope and deal with the loss of life. John talks about educating people about the possibilities to heal wounds and to grow when losing loved ones. Entrepreneurs compromise and care; that’s why entrepreneurs create a better future. John sees life as an adventure to live. He is quickly learning how to attach a caring business to his mission, purpose, and life; not a mission, purpose, and life to a business.

What a blessing it has been to reconnect and to learn from John Acosta. Your road ahead will be paved with more struggles followed by many victories. Johnny, the kid then would be very proud of the man you are today!

If anyone has the need for this incredible product, watch the short video, and spread the message to others.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others
Carlos Fontana, President of Phalanx – Leadership Education Consulting Services, LLC
Co-author of the book Follow to Lead (The 7 Principles to Being a Great Follower)
Author of the book PRICELESS (Sixty-six Simple Stories of Reflection, Love, and Legacy)

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