Fighting COVID-19 is a top priority in 2021 and a brother of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. has created a company that is on the frontline of making our communities safe.
Derrick Miles is a Spring 1992 initiate of the Omicron Epsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi and a proud graduate of Bethune-Cookman University. His startup CourMed provides enterprise software and crowdsourced concierge delivery services from healthcare providers to patients, delivering services of meds, high-end vitamins, OTC, supplements, natural medicine and and the COVID-19 vaccine right to their home or office, enabling clients to get emergency services done with ease.
Miles’ company, which is based in Texas but is operating nationally, has been making major moves over this last year and has received funding from multiple major names including Google For Startups and Microsoft for Startups. With telehealth and delivery services booming during the pandemic, his company is set to grow very fast over the next year.
We at Watch The Yard recently connected with Miles to talk about CourMed, Black entrepreneurship, and how joining a Black fraternity as an undergrad at Bethune-Cookman University helped mold him into the entrepreneur he is today.
Read our full interview below:
How would you explain CourMed to someone who has never heard of it before? How does it work?
Think Uber/Lyft/DoorDash/GrubHub for concierge delivery of healthcare products. Healthcare products include prescriptions, COVID-19 vaccine, high-end vitamins, high-end supplements, CBD Oil, etc.
What made you come up with the idea for CourMed?
I’m a former healthcare executive and I saw that the new healthcare landscape covered many states that a traditional delivery service couldn’t serve. Therefore, we created a concierge delivery model that can pop-up in multiple states with very little lead time and provided the software for our customers to manage multiple accounts from one location.
You are actively working to fight COVID-19 across America, what successes have you had so far?
Yes; we actually started delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to homes and corporate offices (helping employers bring employees back into the office safely).
What made you decide to attend Bethune-Cookman University for undergrad?
My identical twin brother got accepted to FAMU and I was tired of being known as a twin. I wanted to be Derrick and develop my own identity, therefore I chose BCU.
What drew you to wanting to join Omega Psi Phi as an undergrad?
I like challenges. Almost 30 years ago, Omega was known as the most challenging frat to make and I was up for the challenge.
As you’ve matured in your career and become successful, looking back, how do you think joining a Black fraternity has contributed to where you are now?
Pledging Omega taught me to never give up! In addition to my relationship with God; the foundation of Omega has helped me endure hard times and keep pushing no matter what the circumstances may look like. Most people quit when times get tough and they end up working for the 3% that didn’t give up.
Can you tell us about your new initiative with Warren Sapp?
Warren Sapp was our first patient for concierge delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine with the J&J product. I met Warren at a charity event for NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks and bidded on a fishing trip with Warren and won. There are many other former members of the five-time national champion Miami Hurricanes we are looking forward to providing the vaccine to in the comfort of their living room or corporate office.
As someone who has created a successful startup, what are some skills you think recent grads should pick up in order to make themselves more successful as entrepreneurs?
Sales! You have to be comfortable with rejection. At the beginning of your startup you will get so many NO’s that you will eventually become numb to it. After becoming numb to the NO’s it will just roll off your back and you will move on to the next person or corporation who just may be your next yes. Last thing I want to mention is failure is not a bad thing. In our culture we have been conditioned to avoid failure. However, it’s those failures that contribute to learning what not to do. We actually added a couple of advisors to our team years ago from a startup that most people say was a failure. We didn’t look at it that way and avoided multiple attempts by industry giants to crush us, because we had learned from them what to do to avoid those industry giants that negatively impacted their startup.
What do you want to see more of when it comes to undergraduate HBCU curriculum focused on entrepreneurship?
I would like to see more of a focus on being an entrepreneur that created a company that can be sold. Almost 90% of pentamillionaires sold a company to create their wealth. In addition, I would like to see a focus on creating multiple revenue verticals within your entrepreneurial venture. The playbook to creating a billion-dollar market cap company is being shown to the masses everyday (multiple streams of revenue). However, you will find a large number of entrepreneurs that only have one revenue vertical and when that vertical comes under attack (and it will) they may have to close up shop. However, if you have multiple verticals it will give you time to produce a competitive response.
How has mentorship had an impact on your career over time? Who are some mentors who have helped you get where you are at today and what did they teach you that stood out?
Mentorship is learning from others so you can avoid mistakes. Two mistakes that I eventually avoided were taught to me by Fred Fisher and Peter Daniels. Fred Fisher told me the easiest way to lose money is to go into a field you know nothing about. Therefore, innovate, do a startup in a field that you have expertise in. Peter Daniels told me that to have a successful company you must create a board of directors early and the board members should have access to resources. Startups endure a great deal of ups and downs and it’s your board members who will typically help with their time, talent and treasure when the going gets tough.
Drop the mic mentorship moment:
I met with Kneeland Youngblood and he communicated to me that you must have $100 Million to have juice in America. Go out and create a company with a value of $100 Million and come back and talk to me.
What can Black fraternity and sorority members who are established in entrepreneurship related careers do to help the next generation?
Write more books! It’s impossible to give time to everyone who asks for it, but if we put our learnings in books we can reach more people in the next generation. I wrote a two-book series 10 years ago called Superhuman Performance that detailed how the most effective business leaders knew their gift and utilized it everyday. I’ll probably write another book in two years on the importance of encouraging others. All human beings have an area in their life in which they need to be encouraged (we are all struggling in at least one area in our life). They won’t tell you about it, therefore at CourMed we put messages of encouragement on every SMS text message, every bar-coded delivery label and every pay stub to employees.
You recently told us that CourMed is hiring. What type of positions do you have open and what type of people are you trying to add to your team?
We are actively searching for a Chief Marketing Officer and are intentionally looking for a woman to diversify our leadership team. As we scale to different markets, we are looking for Area Administrators who will be the boots on the ground building relationships with providers, drivers and patients.
What is next for CourMed?
To get CourMed to a $100 Million valuation so I can set up my next meeting with Kneeland Youngblood.
If you want to follow Derrick’s work we highly suggest you check out CourMed’s website CourMed.com.