RALEIGH, N.C. – For years, Chad Price spent countless hours in medical offices, awaiting test results for his special-needs sister.
Finally, he’d had enough.
Even though he had no lab or medical experience, he decided to start up his own, MAKO Medical Laboratories LLC, with his friend, Josh Arant.
That was back in 2014. Since then, the startup has experienced record-setting growth — raking in $92 million in 2017 and another $125 million in 2018 alone. By 2020, that number is expected to jump to $200 million.
Such returns has MAKO topping the Triangle Business Journal’s Fast 50 list – for the last three years running. It’s even more impressive when you consider they’re competing in a marketplace dominated by industry giants like Madison, N.J.-based Quest Diagnostics and Burlington-based LabCorp.
“We are ecstatic, humbled, and blessed,” Arant, 26, told WRAL TechWire. “The growth shows the market was ready for an alternative.”
Full-service healthcare company
These days, MAKO is working towards becoming a “full-service healthcare company” rather than just a laboratory – adding logistics, document management, medical waste, technology, and staffing divisions to serve its clients.
Among its many initiatives, it recently announced a partnership with GoKart Kids and GoKart Transportation – the Uber/Lyft for kids and patients – providing safe, reliable transportation for patients to follow-up appointments.
It’s just one of the many ways that the company is hoping to address the current shortfalls in the healthcare market.
“This service fills a huge void,” said Price, 34, who serves as MAKO’s president.
“Most medical practices still have a 20 percent no-show rate because patients still struggle to find reliable transportation. We also wanted drivers that were more thoroughly vetted, and wanted insurance on each ride.”
“God and Google” strategy
MAKO’s story begins when Price and Arant met at a monthly Bible study led by N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby. Early on, the pair shared a deep love of business, conservative politics and God. As they got closer, they started to realize the potential for a business partnership.
“We talked about [Chad’s] sister and the challenges he and she were facing regarding laboratories — basic customer service standards, slow turnaround times, pricing transparency,” recalled Arant. “There was no connection to the laboratory. The more market research we did, the more we found no one else had that connection either.”
In the end, they decided to jump headfirst into the business, employing what they call the “God and Google” strategy, praying constantly and scouring the internet to find answers to their questions.
“Chad and I are both men of faith,” explained Arant. “We believed and believe that as long as our focus, mission and vision is about making an impact across the world, and part of the impact is showing the love of Christ, then we will be successful.”
It also helped a little that they didn’t really know what they were getting into. “When you are not aware of all the pitfalls and barriers to entry, you look past them and they are not really barriers at all. They are merely steps to running a successful healthcare business. Looking back now, we see all that we accomplished and overcame. Had we known all of those barriers, I do not know if there would be a MAKO Medical today,” said Arant.
Initially, the pair bootstrapped the company at first because, as they put, “we didn’t really have a choice. No one was going to invest in two guys with no startup, healthcare or lab experience.” More recently, they’ve partnered up with Pinnacle Financial Partners to “alleviate some of the financial pressures of explosive growth”.
A mission-driven company
As a mission-driven company, MAKO directs part of its profits to 472 nonprofits and 82 missionaries. Meanwhile, more than half of its 500 employees are veterans.
That number is expected to rise when it adds another 100-200 employees over the next 12-18 months at its expanded facility in Henderson, North Carolina.
“As MAKO is blessed, we want to use those blessings to help others,” said Arant. “Our leadership team just finalized our vision statement, ‘To be the most desired company in America to work for.’ If we are able to continue to attract top talent and develop our current culture, we will be able to continue our growth trends.”