With a growing demographic of individuals suffering from dementia, care providers and facilities are challenged for more innovative ways to strike a balance of monitoring environments for staff and patient safety. The new healthcare technology division at Points West is providing a wireless solution that increases security and patient well-being in a less-stressful and peaceful environment.
Here’s what Tracey Cochrane, the owner of Points West, had to say about becoming an entrepreneur, the value of being involved in the tech community, and what advice she would give to aspiring entrepreneurs.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
The idea of running my own business and making a difference by providing technology was exciting. It also provided flexibility for my young family. The idea of contributing to our local economy also appealed to me.
How did the idea for your business come about?
Points West started in 1991 and began by renting projectors and screens to people needing presentation equipment. By 2011, when I purchased the company, it had become the local supplier to the school districts for classroom technologies such as SMART Boards. We have since expanded into three divisions; audio visual, acoustics and now healthcare.
There is a need to improve the noise levels in many facilities as they are too loud and have a lot of echo. We fix that with our acoustics division. With healthcare, particularly residential care, there is a big problem with keeping staff and residents safe. Our safety systems address both areas.
Tell us about your product:
The healthcare division at Points West brings a unique safety solution to residential care facilities who are focused on staff safety and patient care.
What problem do you solve for your customer?
Through our research and speaking to directors of care, facility owners, nurses, front line workers, residential care associations and many others the problem that was being experienced across the industry was violence against staff by residents in addition to resident on resident aggression.
Why did you choose to join Accelerate Okanagan?
I was telling our story to Laurel Douglas, the CEO at the Women’s Enterprise Centre. Laurel recommended we speak to the team at AO and explore the programs available to us.
As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night?
As our company grows it is important for me to ensure we grow in a manageable way. We have a great team who work hard but I want them to be able to take time off and recharge. So managing work loads and making sure we hire at the right time to set people up for success is important. Also, making sure our customers get timely responses and great services is really important to me.
What’s the value of being involved in the tech community?
Being connected with other organizations who are growing and experiencing many of the same challenges/successes is very valuable. The conversations that happen and the knowledge gained has really helped us in our strategies and planning.
Why did you choose the Okanagan to start your company?
Family. My parents and in-laws had moved to the Okanagan many years ago and with young children it was important for them to be connected to their grandparents and other family members.
How has being an entrepreneur impacted your family, social life, or relationships?
Entrepreneurs need to make tough choices and that sometimes means we miss out on events or time with friends and family. However we often have flexibility with our work schedules so we can make those really important things. I know my family appreciates how hard I work and they are proud of what we are doing at Points West.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
Use the resources around you like Accelerate Okanagan. Ask a lot of questions and get help if you need it instead of trying to do it all yourself.
What are three attributes needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Adaptability, risk taker and persistence.
How would you describe the work culture and environment at Points West?
We are a hard working group but we like to have fun too. Our customers motivate us and make us strive to be better at what we do.
What have been some of your challenges and what have you learned from them?
Starting a new division takes some time to really gain steam. That is a real challenge when you want to be in front of customers talking about what you do and how you can help them. We could have jumped right into sales but we chose to really take our time and plan for success and do our research to make sure what were doing was right and was what our customers needed.
What roles are you looking to add to your growing team?
We have a great team in place but we will be needing technicians, installers, marketing, administration and additional sales positions down the road.
What’s next for your company?
We are attending the BC Care Providers conference at the end of May. One part of the program is called the “Safety Den” a Dragon’s Den style event where companies showcase their innovation in healthcare. We are a sponsor of the event and I was asked to sit on the panel of judges. Our new video will be shown to over 400+ delegates as well. This will be a huge event for us.
Who do you look to for mentorship/advice and why?
Larry Smith who has been our executive in residence at AO has been wonderful to work with. His experience and knowledge of the healthcare industry is invaluable.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
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