February/March Issue | Georgia Smith | Addison Magazine —
ADDISON’S OWN BUSINESS incubator is churning out viable businesses — seemingly every other month — and stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit of the North Dallas Corridor. At the TreeHouse, entrepreneurs have access to a collaborative environment and all the tools they require to take their company from concept to reality. Orlando Campos, director of economic development and tourism for the Town of Addison, was part of the original team that created the Addison TreeHouse, and he takes pride in how far the TreeHouse has come since its inception less than five years ago.
"The Addison TreeHouse has become an integral part of our economic development efforts. It has created a positive brand in the North Texas Startup Community, and other communities have been intrigued by the relationship we have developed with our partners in an effort to replicate the same environment for their own communities. In the few years we have been open, the TreeHouse has exceeded our expectations and served as the central one-stop location where entrepreneurs can get the support they need to be successful. Not only has it become home to our department, but home to over 60 existing startups. We have helped launch such successful businesses as Pick-up Now, Divergence Academy, and Lash Delivery. The TreeHouse has helped coalesce the startup ecosystem in our community and demonstrated our community’s support for innovation. This type of support has helped Addison be recognized with Google’s e-City Award for Texas and be Texas’ number one place to start a business, according to Nerdwallet.”
Recently, the TreeHouse hosted the first annual Soar to Success Pitch Competition in conjunction with Southwest Airlines. The competition was open to female and minority entrepreneurs in the area at any stage in their business. Applicants were narrowed down to five finalists: MediBookr.com, Spice Madams, PICKUP, Rapidi2i and Roomored. The five finalists participated in a 5-minute pitch, and judges from Southwest Airlines chose one winner to receive a year’s worth of free travel. Medical imaging marketplace company MediBookr.com was chosen as the winner.
Director of the Addison TreeHouse Shelley Widom is thrilled with the first annual Soar to Success Pitch Competition.
“The partnership with Southwest Airlines,” says Widom, “goes to show that when two companies with a passion for serving the community come together, great things can happen. This competition provides an opportunity for a startup to grow their company and brand on a national level. It opens doors for them for access to capital, media and press, business introductions and more. The TreeHouse exists to bring these types of opportunities to local entrepreneurs, and this partnership and pitch competition was the first of many that we'll bring to our members and members of the community.”
“The Soar to Success Pitch Competition has given credibility to the TreeHouse,” says Orlando Campos. “Having a Fortune 500 company such as Southwest Airlines recognize the value the TreeHouse brings to the business community speaks volumes of the eorts we have spearheaded. It also helps local businesses be more successful and expand their networks outside of the region.”
Choosing to focus on female and minority entrepreneurs also puts the spotlight on a section of startups that is thriving and points the way for other potential female or minority entrepreneurs. Setting an example can help bring more ideas and innovations out of the woodwork and into an already thriving business community.
“MediBookr is democratizing their industry, and with a year of free travel,” says Widom, “I know they will be successful in growing nationally. I think the timing for their solution couldn’t be better and that MediBookr is immensely valuable for improving the eciency and quality in our healthcare system. We are so proud to have MediBookr at the TreeHouse and the winner of Soar to Success.” – Shelley Widom, Director of the Addison TreeHouse
MediBookr.com, headed by Founder and CEO Sunny Nadolsky, is an online marketplace that enables patients to find information on medical imaging. Patients can interact with select imaging centers to receive live quotes on price, view available appointment times and locations and then book with the right one. Imaging centers can also list their services to attract new patients.
Nadolsky holds an MBA and PhD, and has built two successful companies in the past. In early 2015, Nadolsky noticed the large price variance and low-quality visibility problemsfaced by patients in need of medical imaging, and she sought to create a solution through MediBookr.com.
Nadolsky was happy to have the opportunity to participate in the Soar to Success PitchCompetition and hopes the win will help her company grow.
“The Addison TreeHouse is a wonderful place to work,” says Nadolsky. “The administrative team — from both the City of Addison, such as Orlando, Andrew and Pam, and from the Deck, such as Trey Bowles and Shelley Widom — are great people, and the fellow companies are technology companies.
It is a very friendly, nurturing and supportive environment. Both the process to get support, such as reserving conference rooms for meetings, access to mentors and valuable seminars, and the overall setup are very easy and friendly. It is one of the best places for a startup to be, especially during early stages.”
Nadolsky points to the Soar to Success Pitch Competition as a prime example of the great programs run by the Addison TreeHouse, saying that it drove creative thinking, strategizing, and hours upon hours of diligent work among the five competing startups and the sta at the Addison TreeHouse. Of course, Nadolsky is excited to move MediBookr.com forward after winning the competition. The free airfare will allow her team to expand their service, and the media exposure from various outlets will fuel the company’s growth. She is looking forward to helping patients, physicians and imaging centers save money and time and gain peace of mind through MediBookr.com. Southwest Airlines is also doing its part to help MediBookr.com spread the word about its services.
“During our recent trip to Baltimore to prepare our next market expansion,” says Nadolsky, “Southwest Airlines assigned a special multiple-media expert to accompany us throughout our whole trip, sharing videos and photos of our growth with their constituents.
We are very grateful for the wonderful support we have received from Southwest Airlines, the Addison TreeHouse, and the Health Wildcatters, where we were one of ten best lucky healthcare companies chosen for investment, and the great journalists from the media. It takes a village for a startup to grow up, and we are very grateful for the wonderful support from everyone!”
True to her entrepreneurial spirit, Nadolsky has no intention of resting on her laurels or even taking a breather.
“This win has fired up our whole team, as it has not only been an important validation of the values MediBookr provides but also a tremendous marketing help to let a potentially very large consumer base know about our service. Southwest Airlines told us that they liked what we are doing because we share a similar DNA — Southwest used to be the little startup bringing ‘Transfarency’ to increase access to the airline industry by everyone, and we are bringing transparency to healthcare.
They said they wanted to support our growth by giving us free flights for a year to any city we expand to, and they wanted to share our growth story to their millions of constituents. For an airline that 127 million passengers flew last year, it is a tremendous help to a company at the startup stage like us. In addition to the continued wonderful support from the Addison TreeHouse and many exceptional mentors, angel investors, physicians and our users and customers, we are all very motivated to deliver great service to both patients and imaging centers in not just Dallas-Fort Worth, but other parts of our country.” Nadolsky is brimming with gratitude to everyone who ever believed in MediBookr, from the largest investor to those who gave what they could.
“I want to thank those who are chipping in with any level of support to us, whether it is an investment, mentor guidance, referring patients to use our service, or telling friends, family, or acquaintances in their network about our service, etc. to help startups like MediBookr. It really takes us all to increase access to our healthcare by bringing transparency, which will help improve our healthcare’s quality and eciency so that more lives will be saved.”
This isn’t the last time the Addison TreeHouse will host the Soar to Success Pitch Competition. Next year, Widom hopes to partner with Southwest Airlines again and open this opportunity to other local entrepreneurs.
Campos agrees, adding, “Future Soar to Success Pitch Competitions will only demonstrate the value-add and support the TreeHouse brings to entrepreneurs. Having partnerships with Southwest Airlines also helps entrepreneurs tap into the talents of individuals working in successful Fortune 500 companies. It only makes their businesses that much stronger. We are very excited that Sunny Nadolsky was the first Soar to Success Pitch Competition winner. She launched her company at Health Wildcatters, and since then has relocated her business to Addison. The fact that she is also an Addison resident demonstrates how resources abound for other local entrepreneurs. They just have to get out and get connected, and that is what we are here to do.”