According to a 2017 survey on drug use, health and mortality in the United States, over 130 people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses. And as someone who had experienced addiction earlier in his life, Yossuf Albanawi wanted to do something about this. Two years later, Albanawi, an entrepreneurially-oriented college student at Wake Forest, and his cofounder Gautam Chebrolu created the product Pillieve, a smart, secure pill bottle that monitors and controls prescription opioid use at the point of intake. I caught up with Yossuf on our From the Dorm Room to the Board Room podcast, and the following excerpt from that interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Andy Molinsky: I’m curious how you got interested in becoming an entrepreneur.
Yossuf Albanawi: Senior year in college at Wake Forest, I started taking entrepreneurship courses because there was one professor who was really interesting to me – she was a painter and a dancer and also an entrepreneur. The course was really about how to tap into your own creativity and I became hooked.
Molinsky: So, you didn’t necessarily expect to be an entrepreneur when you entered college?
Albanawi: I saw myself as being more of a social entrepreneur in the sense that I gravitated towards social issues. I interned at a few companies during my junior and sophomore year around social impact, and how can we create better programs to address them.
Molinsky: And what enabled you to link this interest in social entrepreneurship to the opioid crisis?
Albanawi: Halfway through my senior year, I started working at a rehab clinic just outside of Winston-Salem, I remember, I would go there every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., walk in, and just sit down around those who were addicted and their families. That was my aha moment. I just felt that this was a problem that I wanted to solve.
Molinsky: What is it like to be an entrepreneur?
Albanawi: To be completely frank, it’s very, very challenging. We’re very accustomed to social media, Instagram pages that romanticize entrepreneurship and make it seem like it’s something that anyone can do. Of course, anyone can do it, but you really need to be driven, dedicated and passionate.
Molinsky: Any other advice for college students venturing into the professional world?
Albanawi: When you start your first job, it’s probably not going to live up to its expectations. There’s a lot of administrative work that first-time employees have to do. And that’s something that you have to be open to. It’s very rare for an employer to just hand you this huge project right out of college and tell you, “All right, get going on this.”
read more at http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/ by Andy Molinsky, Contributor