The University of Illinois Foundation in partnership with the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, was proud to welcome alumnus and healthcare entrepreneur James Bradley to campus, and invited him to share his story of entrepreneurial success in the healthcare industry.
Mr. Bradley, a recipient of two University of Illinois degrees (a bachelors in Agricultural Sciences and a masters in Agronomics), discussed his start in corporate America and his dream to put the knowledge he had acquired to use with a business of his own. Working with a team of skillful engineers, Mr. Bradley developed the internet-based healthcare company Abaton.com, which was the only firm to offer robust electronic tools to connect providers, laboratories, pharmacies, and payors in real-time over the internet. Mr. Bradley’s mastery of the healthcare industry and forward thinking allowed Abaton.com to stand alone during the 1990s.
With a keen eye for the market and a healthy distrust of the illogical investments that were being made in the dot com boom, Mr. Bradley knew that a strategic partnership was the way to future success and growth for his company. “I knew my coworkers and their families depended on me,” Bradley explained. “I could see the trust in their eyes, and I knew I had to make the right decisions to keep the company afloat. If it meant I didn’t take home a paycheck to reinvest in Abaton and ensure that everyone else got paid, that’s what I did. And as an entrepreneur I always had to have a plan B and sometimes a plan C…because they depended on me.”
Mr. Bradley’s strategic decision-making paid off in 1999, when industry leader McKessonHBOC Inc. acquired his software company. “The industry leaders talked about three key elements needing to come together to fundamentally redefine healthcare: technology, relationships, and distribution,” Bradley said. “With the combination of McKessonHBOC’s customer base and Abaton.com’s technology base, those cornerstones were in place.”
In the audience, proudly listening to Mr. Bradley’s story was Forrest Troyer, professor of crop sciences at the University of Illinois, and one of Mr. Bradley’s mentors and long-time friends. Troyer commented, “What made Jim stand apart was his positive attitude; he never had a bad word for anyone and always could look at situations in a positive light. And that, to me, is the key to being an entrepreneur and is what makes Jim a success in life and in business!”
Alumni interested in speaking about entrepreneurship should contact their regional development officer.