David Reeser, Founder of OpiAID, has a true passion for lifting others in word or deed. David’s “why” behind OpiAID, a technology solution combating the opioid epidemic, is enabling his neighbors and community members who are in recovery to find confidence and freedom – freedom to become unshackled by a physiological response that is ruining their lives. In David’s spare time, he enjoys serving in his church, spending time with his family and being in the outdoors, kayaking or walking in the mountains. “It’s funny,” David says, “because I spend so much time with technology and the one thing I enjoy most when I’m not working on innovation, is chopping wood.”
Q: What does OpiAID do in a nutshell?
A: OpiAID is technology that improves addiction treatment outcomes. Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the gold standard for those who receive care for substance use disorder. While the treatment is very effective, retention in these programs is not. Only 1 out of 3 that begin treatment are still in care three months later. It takes a year to 18 months to see a lasting and powerful shift take place. Those that drop out early often find themselves locked in the vicious cycle of relapse. OpiAID’s goal is to leverage technology in a meaningful and compassionate way in order to keep one more person in treatment during those first 12 weeks. If you do that, you change the world.
Q: What inspired you to start this company?
A: Sometimes the reason you start something isn’t the reason you continue, and sometimes you start something for one reason and then realize subconsciously there was something else motivating it. The initial reason for starting the company was that I was looking to build an AI technology component for another company I owned at the time called IT works, where I provided cloud infrastructure to attorneys, doctors and local government. However, we started meeting up with other folks for fun about tackling problems we were having in our local community using AI, so they could see it is a powerful tool that can help people. That stimulated these conversations around the Opioid problem we are having here in Wilmington and we realized we could hopefully effect some change.
The more I invested time into OpiAID, the more I realized I was driven by my own story of addiction that has wreaked havoc on my family. I’m on both a personal and professional mission to see people get their lives back.
Q: What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
A: Freedom! But not just freedom for the sake of being free but the ability to apply purpose to everything that I do. I have a true north question that guides everything that I do for this company and in my person life as well. That question is, “Will this help my neighbor?” It helps me make better decisions quickly because there are a lot of decisions to make when you are an entrepreneur. The thing is, this freedom isn’t just about waking up when I want or being able to come and go as I please, but freedom to do things in the spirit with which I enjoy them, and that’s people before profit. I believe in solving problems. You can figure out how to monetize it, but solving a problem can truly help people. It can be profitable to keep people well. That’s something that has gotten pretty mixed up in our healthcare system. Our healthcare system in this country is designed to keep people alive but not well. I believe basic healthcare is a human right. Technology is the key to reducing cost, so we can shift our focus to wellness and preventive care. I’m voting with my time and my wallet as an entrepreneur to be able to make that a reality, at least in my corner of the world.
Q: Do you have any mentors or role models who have inspired you while you have been building your business?
A: Sometimes we lose sight of all the people who influence us. I am a Christian. The bible has taught me to see people as having an infinite and inherent value and I treat them as such.
I also have mentors in business development too, Dave Sandler of Sandler’s Sales Training and Jim Roberts. He has been a mentor of mine and is a great guy to work with. I would say I have a lot of influencers but I don’t have a consistent mentor and to be honest, I probably need one that I can check in with. I’m kind of like a lone wolf at present in the mentor department. I would love to have one, though.
Q: Any advice for entrepreneurs?
A: I have a myriad of things that I want to put out there but the one thing that I would say is that becoming an entrepreneur seems sexy and fun but its incredibly hard. If you want to become an entrepreneur it is good to have a job first and an income so that when you are building a business you can do it peacefully. To the best of your ability, achieve some type of balance in your life. If you go chasing something 100 mph but lose sight of your family, you may gain success but you might lose your family. What will that success be worth if you have no one to share it with? Make sure you maintain your values and what is important to you. Surround yourself with good people that share your passion. Value people and use stuff, not the other way around. Do something that you are passionate about (for the love of all that is good!), so that when times get tough (and they will) that passion will drive you to victory.