Choosing the Right Business Partner Is Paramount

Staff  /  Charleston Digital Corridor
Bill Harley, Co-founder & CEO, ZeriscopeBill Harley, Co-founder & CEO, Zeriscope

Bill Harley is the cofounder and CEO of Zeriscope, a multi-disciplinary telemedicine company. Zeriscope utilizes the latest technologies to enable focused and efficient remote medical encounters. Their system is a web-based mobile technology platform that leverages live interactive video and streaming real-time physiological and environmental sensor data to creatively enable new medical treatments and protocols.

Bill is a serial entrepreneur, over the past 20 years he has started and built numerous companies. He realized early in his career that the startup culture sparked an emotion in him that he couldn't stay away from. He started his first company in 1997 and began to feel the peaks and valleys often associated with startups and realized he never wanted to work for someone else again.

"Startups are not for everyone, but I am totally energized by the creativity and realization of new ideas, and the uncertainty and risk associated with startups. "

This series is brought to you by Charleston County Economic Development.

How did you come to be in Charleston?

My wife and I were ready for a change. I am originally from South Carolina and my wife and I got married here so we were familiar with the area. We knew we ultimately wanted to stay in the Southeast and coming from Ft. Lauderdale access to water was important to us. We looked around and ultimately decided on Charleston. At the time I really didn't think much was going on in Charleston, but I was pleasantly surprised about how much early-stage and startup activity was happening here.

In your own words, what does your company do?

In short, we create solutions that others aren't doing within the telemedicine space. We focus on niche markets to create deep use in a certain area. We look to identify areas ripe for technology to improve patient care and outcomes.

We see ourselves as more than the traditional telemedicine company as we aren't only enabling virtual visits but are providing biological information and extract important data from it.

Some areas of our work include systems for aiding in traumatic brain injury treatment, assisting therapists in treating patients with PTSD, supporting 1st responders in early stroke diagnosis and so much more. We are incredibly excited to be able to offer solutions that bring healthcare to patients who might not get the care otherwise.

How would you describe your organization's culture?

Agile. Open. Collaborative. Startups are most often a big experiment and just like any experiment you've got to be willing to learn and to change on a dime. This is why being agile is important. You've got to try and if you fail, you have to willing and able to adjust try again. Equally as important is hiring true contributors. In the startup environment it's critically important to work with people who take full ownership of what they do and have that self-starter attitude.

What's the hardest or most important lesson you've learned in business?

Choosing the right team , especially your business partner. It can be analogous to a marriage. You spend large amounts of time together and need to be able to trust each other, work through situations and often make tough decisions.

What's the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?

I've got 3 big ones. First, believing it's going to be a normal job with 8-hour workdays and being able to leave work at work. Second, that there will always be money to pay your salary. Lastly, thinking that sales don't matter. They absolutely matter and putting the energy and time into sales will be critical to your success.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs?

Do what you can to keep your sanity. There will be times when you need to burn yourself out by being completely focused on your work and there will be times when you need a balance. Make sure you can identify those times. It is also important to have hobbies and interests. If you don't, you risk your work consuming you.

How do you prevent burnout?

Luckily, I don't experience it as much as I used to. My faith and family keep me in perspective. But when I was younger, I was able to have blinders on and go all in. Now as I have matured, I can see when and where I need the balance before I get to a point of burning out.

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

I like to run and bike. I also enjoy house projects. I love the entire process, from designing it to figuring out how to do it all the way to executing the project! My latest interest is researching how to make knives. Learning about the whole process of creation, the metals available for different uses, how to heat treat them and even how to shape the handles.

What has it been like building your technical team in Charleston?

Recruiting IT talent has been tough, but this is true everywhere and not specific to Charleston. I've got friends all over and we all have the same challenges with IT talent.

Rapid Fire Section

Mac or a PC: Both!

iPhone or Android: iPhone

Folly Beach or Sullivan's Island: Sullivan's

Favorite Book: How Not to Die

Starbucks order: I don't have one.

Favorite Charleston restaurant: Magnolias