Jillian Bridgette Cohen launched her company, Virtual Health Partners, Inc., in May 2015 with the goal of creating an ecosphere of wellness support that clients could reach out to from anywhere at anytime.
Throughout her career, she built a deep knowledge and strong relationships in the procedural weight loss and gastroenterology specialties. She was responsible for the multimillion-dollar growth of three start-up companies with a focus on non-invasive weight loss.
Jillian served as Regional Sales Manager from 2008 to 2010 at Novare Surgical Systems, Inc., which developed, manufactured, and marketed devices for minimally invasive surgery. At Novare, she developed a large network of key opinion leaders within the US and nationally launched the concept and techniques related to single incision surgery and “natural orifice transendoluminal surgery.” Her next role was as Director of Sales and Business Development at ElectroCore Medical, LLC, a bioelectronic medicine health care company where she led international sales and business development and managed the distribution teams across Europe, Asia, Canada, and Latin America.
She subsequently served as Regional Business Director at Apollo Endosurgery, Inc., a medical device company focused on less invasive therapies for the treatment of obesity, where she launched Overstitch, a novel endoscopic product that was the first device to allow suturing endoluminally. She was an integral part of that company’s growth.
Jillian received her Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University Business School and has put her expertise to work leading her own healthcare venture with a talented team.
Who are some of your mentors?
First and foremost, my family, friends, and especially my husband. I have been very fortunate to surround myself by an inner circle that is not afraid to give honest direct feedback, support me when needed, and push me when appropriate.
I am also fortunate to have advisory board members and directors of the company who are mentors and understand the dynamics of VHP’s business, including Andy Rock, Chairman of VHP’s board, and Mark Smith to name a few. Other mentors have come at all stages of my career. Some I am in touch with frequently, while others I have not spoken to in years, but their advice lives on with me daily. A few quotes that stand out to me are the following; “Control your controllables, you cannot control your uncontrollable,” and “Advice is like a gift from your grandmother. Take it, keep it, and do what you want with it; you may not always like it, but it is a gift.”
How did you get your start in the medical device field?
I worked in the medical device sector for almost 15 years and kept seeing devices and procedures launch for weight loss. It became evident to me that the ability to provide aftercare in a scalable manner was not physically or economically feasible for a bariatric surgery or weight management program. I recognized that there was a need for a “uberesque” live virtual service option to be created both to serve patients and providers better. That is how VHP was born. I think a lot of us have ideas based on opportunities that we identify in the marketplace, but the key is to make sure you can develop a viable product that is saleable and that someone will pay for.
What advice do you have for women who are rising stars?
Do not focus on your sex; focus on your product, drive your business plan, build the best team around you as possible, and recognize that your team and product will pivot overtime and that is okay. Lastly, be the best leader you can be by constantly growing, learning, and listening.
How would your colleagues describe your management style?
Passionate, collaborative, hands-on at times, and leading by example is my management style with our team. My overall approach is to be articulate, drive change, be a visionary, and earn the respect of everyone I work with.
Name a quote or quotes that best describe your philosophy
I have to always include a good Yogi Berra quote, as he was one of my dad’s favorite baseball players and people to quote. “When you come to a fork in the road take it,” I think is the essential aspect of being an entrepreneur and leader. You have to make decisions every minute of every day for how to guide your team, your own actions, and the company. It is also imperative to lean on your management team, mentors, and business partners in the decision-making process, but as a leader you can never be scared to just “take the fork.” I also love the quote from Buddha, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
Running a start-up can be a rollercoaster each and every day. Some days you love riding the coaster, other days it is like being on one with a stomach virus. It is imperative to be able to reset your state of mind and continue to move forward. You have to find your own positivity because no one else will be able to do it for you.