Video: How 2 Northwestern Students Turned an insight in to a $20 Million+ Startup.

I was able to sit down with the Context Media Founders, Rishi and Shradha, for the November Founder Stories event at 1871.  Rishi and Shradha discussed the unique challenges they faced in starting a company with no investors and a market that did not yet exist.  We had a full house for pizza and beer as we heard how these two great entrepreneurs made their impact in the media and healthcare world at such a young age.

This is the fifth installment of Founders’ Stories.  If you would like to check out the prior events, you can see them here: Braintree Founder Bryan Johnson, Open Table Founder Chuck Templeton, Grub Hub Founders Matt Maloney and Mike Evans, or Belly Founder Logan LaHive.

Context Media is a 6 year old media company that has grown to tens of millions of dollars in revenue.  Context Media allows doctors to educate patients before, during and after their visit, by engaging patients in the doctors’ waiting rooms.  Patient engagement has allowed Context Media to create an advertising network, allowing pharmaceutical companies to target consumers when they can have the most impact, right before meeting with their doctor.

Context Media have been successful at empowering the patients that visit the offices where they are located to make better lifestyle choices, helped improve communication between physicians and patients, and created a platform that captures millions of impressions for advertisers.  Not only have they made it into 2,200 offices, they have grown the company to over $20 million in annual revenue in 6 years and are still growing rapidly!

The INCISENT team and I once more a great time sponsoring Chicago Founders’ Stories @ 1871.  All five have been a great success and we wanted to be able to share the stories with those who couldn’t make it out.  The video is broken out into eight segments for easier viewing:

Part One: In this segment, the founders discuss their experience dropping out of Northwestern to start their business, at the ripe age of 20 years old.  They also, discuss how they developed a passion for business and how they came up with their idea.

Part Two: We begin to hear about the challenges of the two-sided network and go back in time to hear about Shradha’s first entrepreneurial venture…in fourth grade!

Part Three: Rishi shares his early stories of entrepreneurship, including his high school company where he sold his customer list to the “Geek Squad” to Best Buy for $7 million.

Part Four:  The founders discuss how they decided to price their services when there was no preexisting market.

Part Five:  Facing the challenge of two-sided networks, the founders discuss how they overcame this: by building up both sides, little by little and making sure to deliver on their small guarantees.

Part Six: The founders discuss building a culture that results in organizational clarity and strong leadership.  Learn about how Context Media was able to attract the talent that has helped them grow to $20 million in sales over 6 years.

Part Seven: Rishi explains how “bootstrapping” forced Context Media to learn faster and to build a better product.  Also, they discuss why funding would not have helped in a demand originating market.

Part Eight: In addition to Q&A from the crowd, here we hear about some of the angel investments both founders have made and a discussion on why Chicago is becoming a premiere city for startups.