Business entrepreneurship shows a social side
August 2, 2016
Probo Medical has plenty of equipment to help its customers meet their ultrasound needs, but also space for inventory to ship to places that will use the items to help improve health care. | PHOTO COURTESY OF PROBO MEDICAL
As a student in the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, David Trogden learned the value of social entrepreneurship. Now, as the owner and president of Probo Medical, a company based in Fishers and specializing in refurbishing ultrasound equipment, he's sharing those lessons with current Kelley students.
Trogden turned to three students who are part of Kelley's Discovery, Innovation and Ventures Enterprise, or DIVE, program, to develop a sound business plan to deliver refurbished ultrasound systems to help medical personnel around the world. DIVE is led by associate professor Todd Saxton.
Probo Medical is donating both the ultrasound systems and the probes to health-care organizations to provide them with ultrasound machines capable of diagnosing problematic pregnancies and other medical issues.
The collaboration drew attention from a story posted on Kelley's Biz Blog and another on the WISH-TV Channel 8 site. Both focused on the team's efforts at the Otino Waa Children's Village in Uganda, but Probo Medical plans to continue the outreach effort in other places, such as Haiti.
"At the beginning of their project, we had an idea of donating some equipment without any real plan on how to do so," said Trogden, who was part of DIVE before graduating in 2010. By the end of the project, though, the Hamilton County businessman and social entrepreneur said, the students "received a true entrepreneurial experience in their work with Probo and its charitable giving."
Trogden credited the three students with valuable assistance in finding and vetting potential partners and building relationships that allowed the project to proceed.
"I think one of the main takeaways from the MBA group was the ability to take an idea from concept to action while dealing with the inevitable curveballs that any new venture will throw you," Trogden said, adding that the Kelley students "got a taste of 'thinking big,' on a scale much larger than we -- or they -- had imagined."
Emily Palmer, one of the students involved, welcomed Trogden's invitation.
"I am drawn to socially conscious firms and found this to be a good opportunity to help a young firm achieve a social mission," she said. "The project provided insight into how to start something from scratch. The lessons I learned can be applied at school or at work."
Trogden learned a lot at the business school. Probo Medical was born in his garage in 2014 and has already grown to 34 employees, nearly two-thirds of whom were hired in 2016. According to Zach Wills, Probo's chief revenue office and also a Kelley graduate, the company's success is a big reason why it is eager to help others. Social entrepreneurship is good business.
"We are looking to develop a consistent method so we can deliver three to five systems per month," Willis said. "Our business success has allowed us to make a global difference, which is important to us and to our employees."
Saxton believes that his students -- current as well as former -- were able to "really do some good on a global outreach basis."