Eudora Healthcare founder, Kenny Ozoude was always passionate about doing things to the best of his ability, with good service and care. In addition, he was extremely analytical about finding the perfect fit in a career that would incorporate his acumen for math and sciences. Each time he chose a major in college that utilized his skills, he soon found that they weren’t the right fit. Eventually, he did find the perfect fit – the field of business. After acquiring a degree in business, Kenny dove into it with fervor and class but years later realized he had an entrepreneurial spirit and that his true passion was in building businesses on his own! Finally finding his true calling in life, the sky is the limit in his success by developing a healthcare company based on good service and care – the perfect fit for a class act.
Kenny Ozoude of Eudora Healthcare exudes confidence and humility, all rolled into one. How is that possible in today’s highly competitive healthcare marketplace? Having an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, rated by Business Week as the number one business school in the nation, may have a bearing on Kenny’s success. While at Duke, he developed international business acumen, studying in Shanghai, India, and Western Europe. In addition, he completed an executive education course at Harvard Business School in Private Equity and Venture Capital.
When asked why his company’s name is Eudora, Kenny explained, “It is of Greek origin, meaning a cherished gift.” And the key to his savvy business compassion may lie with Kenny’s mom. He says the biggest impact on him in his formative years was tagging along and observing his mom (a nurse by profession) who opened up an agency that provided “early intervention care for at risk youth”. She ran that for close to sixteen years before retiring. Kenny was always interested in what she did and would ask a lot of questions. Kenny’s father, who was a network administrator for a large financial services company, contributed greatly to his analytical skills.
While growing up, Kenny’s family started out in Nigeria, shortly thereafter leaving for the United States, and eventually settling in New York City. After graduating high school in New York, Kenny moved to Houston where he attended the University of Houston and graduated with a BBA (Bachelors of Business Administration) in Information Systems. The oldest of four within a ten year range, Kenny grew up with one sister and two younger brothers, all of whom helped out by working when they were old enough. “We’re a tight-knit family. Everyone worked including my mother”, remarked Kenny
When Kenny began at U of H, he couldn’t decide on a major. He recalled, “I almost sent my parents to the insane asylum. I started off with engineering; obviously a kid who likes math ought to go into engineering. I realized very quickly that was not my passion. Then I switched over to biology as a major because I wanted to be a doctor. So I switched from the math to the science in line with what I had liked my whole life. Once I realized that part of going into medical school and becoming a doctor involved something called gross anatomy and dissecting human beings, I quickly dropped that and changed my major. I decided that pharmacology would be okay because it was still in the field of biological sciences so I applied for pharmacy school and do the pre-pharmacy curriculum. Once again I realized that it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t dynamic enough. I was lost and my parents were frustrated. I sought the help of a guidance counselor and after a lot of talking and getting to know each other, she suggested I go to business school. I thought to myself, ‘Who actually goes to school for business? Business is something you just do’. Lo and behold that is where I found my home – the perfect fit. I was in the business school and I got into business information systems. That was 2000.”
Towards the end of his undergraduate years, Kenny met and fell in love with the love of his life, Letitia. It was a funny story because when Kenny and Letitia initially met, they didn’t hit it off. Kenny was a senior intern and was responsible for training the new interns on the tasks he was doing. On the day that Letitia walked in and Kenny was told that he was going to train her, he recognized her from campus. Taking his job far too seriously, Kenny wasn’t very friendly to Letitia because he didn’t think she took her job seriously enough. In addition, he thought she didn’t pay attention and that she would never make it in this business!
As luck would have it, the car that he was using at that time was having mechanical problems and he didn’t have transportation to and from the internship. He would get rides from his friends. Letitia lived on campus near Kenny and volunteered to give him a ride home. During those trips home was when Kenny realized she was a good girl and she realized that he was a good boy too! That was the beginning of their relationship. After dating for a period of time, Letitia ended up going to medical school and residency. Kenny was working and traveling all around the country. It wasn’t until ten years later that they were married. It certainly was a very well thought out courtship and now the fruit of their labor has rewarded them with two beautiful children, Pierce, age 4 and Blake, age 1.
Even though Kenny had received his BBA, he still was in search of the perfect fit. Luckily there was a gentleman by the name of Gerald Bass who came to visit one of his classes. He was a management consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers. Kenny didn’t know exactly what he did but the way that he described his job sounded really fun and he wanted to do it too! Kenny elaborated, “All I knew was that he would do different projects for different companies and he would travel. He was, at that time, flying between Houston, Mexico, and Detroit. He was talking about all these interesting problems that he would solve for these companies, General Motors being one of them. He was using technology and he was helping shape the future of how they were going to sell cars and build cars. I said to myself that I want to do that.”
After Kenny graduated, he met that same gentleman at a career fair. He was recruiting for Price Waterhouse Coopers. Kenny brought one résumé to the career fair that had about fifty or sixty companies there and waited in line to speak to Mr. Bass and said, “I brought one copy of my résumé and it’s for you. I didn’t come here to see anybody else but you. I want to do what you do and I want to work for this company.” Kenny handed him his résumé and immediately thought he had just wasted a whole career fair because there were lots of great companies there and he had only come to speak to Gerald Bass from Price Waterhouse Coopers.
About six weeks later after the career fair, Kenny received an unexpected call from Mr. Bass. He said, “Hey Kenny, we’re going to give you a call pretty soon in the next week or so for an interview. Make sure you’re ready for it.” And the rest, as Kenny says, was history. Kenny went through the interview process and ended up working at Price Waterhouse Coopers in their management consultant division. Right out of school. He felt really good about his decision. He started working there and learned so much working with great people. “I really developed professionally and began to understand what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be in business,” reflected Kenny.
After working for the company for a number of years, Kenny transitioned to a smaller company in the same space. “More possibilities, smaller firm”, expressed Kenny, “called Energy Solutions.” From Energy Solutions, he transitioned to a company called Accenture and worked for them up until 2010. He would go into different companies to solve complex business problems using technology, business strategy, operations, management techniques, or whatever needed to happen. Around 2004, he was placed on a project in Boston; a very large company was in the process of doing two billion dollar plus acquisitions and he was part of that team. They needed to wrap their heads around how that was supposed to actually happen and then integrate those companies into their portfolio.
Kenny spent about two years helping them work through all of those things and ultimately came to the conclusion that he wanted to be either buying or selling companies and not just be a consultant. He called that “aha” realization his “watershed moment. “I realized that I’m on the wrong side of this business. I wanted to be in the driver’s seat. I was a consultant. I was doing good work and I was adding value but I wanted to be either the person that was buying a company or selling a company and reaping those benefits.”
Uncertain how it was going to happen, Kenny realized that he needed to go back to school once again but this time it would be to get some more formal business education and sort of re-launch his career from a new perspective. He applied and was accepted at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where he attended from 2008 to 2010. Kenny felt like he had some of the best professors, some of the toughest courses, and some of the best classmates and because of the international experience, he had a new perspective on how business was done. When he left there, he was determined to start his own business.
After leaving North Carolina, Kenny came back to Houston with just a very skeleton type of plan that was not really fleshed out at all. Once again, he began educating himself. He would talk to anybody who would give him the time; any entrepreneur who was in business; and anybody who had led a company, bought a company, or sold a company. Kenny went through his network and leveraged whoever he could to get meetings with anybody who would help out. After having a few meetings, he decided that the best way for him to start was to find and engage with small, high potential, high growth businesses and try to either make an investment or add some sort of value capital and then help that business get to the next level. That’s truly how Kenny’s company started. Without too much focus on whatever industry, it just had to be a small, high potential high growth business. Kenny had to feel like he could add value to what they were doing.
While searching for a small, energetic, and promising new company where he could add value and possibly add capital, Kenny found out about HeatTrak. It was a company, Kenny says, that “sold a safety product for wintertime conditions.” During the time spent with HeatTrak, Kenny honed his investment style and criteria. Going forward, he realized that healthcare was the industry that was the best fit for him. I think that I can best sum up by saying that I’d like to put forth that Eudora Healthcare believes in growth through diversification. We believe in growth through partnering. When people see Eudora, I want them to understand that we’re first of all focused on the patient. Then we’re focused on doing good business. I believe that if we take care of the patients and that we take care of our partners that success is going to come.”
Eudora Healthcare is an umbrella company that owns other small healthcare companies, in other words, a holding company. Eudora Healthcare got started by investing in a group that developed a chain of pharmacies. From pharmacies, they diversified into other aspects of healthcare including physical therapy companies and testing laboratories. So that is why Eudora Healthcare is basically becoming a healthcare system. They keep adding healthcare businesses, products, and services bringing them under one umbrella and leveraging synergies between all of them.
They are also working on product development and distribution. There’s a product that they are currently in the process of developing in production with some other partners that they hope to bring to market that will help the geriatric population. Kenny hopes to continue growing and developing in the healthcare space by acquiring and developing ancillary healthcare services. Kenny expounded, “The word Eudora means generous gift. With the health and welfare of our patients at the core, we hope that we are giving our patients a gift, a gift of a good experience, a gift of health, a gift of healing. We hope to impart that on our patients and conversely we also receive that satisfaction from doing good work. When our patients are satisfied, when our patients have good results, it’s a gift to us.”
Eudora Healthcare’s chain of pharmacies does specialty compounding. In addition, they also have testing laboratories and physical therapy and occupational therapy services. What sets them apart is definitely the patient experience. “We want the rehabilitation experience to be a nice experience,” says Kenny. “Our facilities feel more like a spa than a clinic. They look nice; they are a nice size; and they are very comfortable. We spent a little extra money and time really making the patient experience that much more pleasant and our staff is second to none. We really treat patients like human beings, like they are part of our family!” On the horizon, Kenny hopes to put a full service hospital in operation with links to ancillary health services.
In the future, Eudora Healthcare may do medical trials. They’ve actually been approached to do that but with everything else going on, it hasn’t happened yet even though it’s on the radar. Within pharmacy operations, Kenny credits his right-hand person, Nirvana Hightower, “to make the right decisions for me. She’s the pharmacist in charge and runs the operations there. The buck stops with her. We communicate daily as needed and I’m usually there at least twice a month for meetings at the facilities. My phone is always ringing; I’m always available for any sort of questions. I typically set the vision and set the direction but I trust Nirvana to lead the execution of that.”
When asked about mentorship along the way, Kenny stated, “I’m not even sure if he knows it but his name is Dr. Bernard Harris. He was gracious enough to take a meeting from a young, newly minted MBA graduate who was looking to conquer the world. In the mist of all he was working on, he took several meetings with me and didn’t time box them at all. We talked for hours and he gave me a lot of insight into the attitude I had to have in order to do what I’m doing now. It’s an attitude of the world doesn’t owe you anything; you have to make a decision; you have to do it; and you have to just make it happen anyway that you can. No one’s going to write you a check; no one’s going to finance your plan. You have to figure out a way to make it happen. That was very instrumental in preparing me for what lie ahead.”
People always ask Kenny if he ever plans to retire but he quickly responds, “I’m just having too much fun running and growing the business.” He also adds that he is glad that he married he wife and equally glad that he picked the right partners. Kenny states, “I would say the best thing I have ever done was have good employees and good partners. That has made all the difference in the world.”
Passionate about giving back to the community, Kenny finds deep satisfaction in gift-giving to the community. In the works for the future, Kenny is establishing the Eudora Foundation that is going to be geared toward helping young people who have high potential in achieving their goals, whatever that may be. Meanwhile, Kenny supports the Smarht Girl Foundation, the Houston Heavys (a youth AAU basketball team), and the Kunak and Kosica Foundations that are both nonprofits with an international focus bringing water and healthcare to places, especially in Africa, that are lacking some of the basic things that we take for granted.
Kenny is carrying on the tradition of that strong imprinting by his mother of care and service. Not only does he believe that service is its own reward, he says that education is also its own reward. Obviously, Kenny would not be a success without his focus on education, doing everything with care, and always providing goodservice – the perfect fit for such a class act!