Founder(s) of the Week: Christopher Lee and Robert Zhang

If you only learn one thing from Christopher and Robert, it should be…

Pick your team well! They should be people who are just as passionate about your startup as you are. Working with a team also means that you have to be flexible. While being firm in your ideas is important, compromises are very necessary at times to build a better product and company.

Inspired by a family member’s experience with illness, Christopher Lee (E’22, W’22) and Robert Zhang (E’22, W’22) talks about their concern with the danger of opioid overdose in prescribed medications. Often, the only thing stopping patients from overdosing on these highly addictive medicines is the cap on the standard pill bottle, which they believe is ridiculous. The current landscape makes the only guard against addiction to opioid prescriptions to be the patient’s self-control, which may waver in the face of addictive substances. Together with another co-founder, they created their startup, PillBot, to alleviate the threat of overdose.

Their product is an automatic, miniature pill dispenser. A LED indicator alerts the patient to take their medication, and the correct dosage is given at the push of a button. But this is only a part of their company. The other part is a comprehensive database that allows third parties—clinics, physicians, etc.—to access information for a specific group of patients and monitor possible signs of addiction. By using a business-to-business model, this group of entrepreneurs are truly trying to find an intelligent and effective solution to medication and opioid addiction.

The team reflects that at first their product-oriented beginning presented some challenges, as it was difficult to build to product first and then try to fit a market. However, they have now successfully refocused around market research to create a product around. As the company continues to grow, the PillBot team is also becoming more and more well-versed on their target market and potential consumers. They are involved in many entrepreneurship programs on campus including WeissFund and WeissPitch, just to name a few. Through these programs, they have received mentorship and funding to facilitate their journey. Not only that, but they’ve had great success in competitions, recently taking second place at Elevator Pitch.