iTriage founder believes in pursuing what you “can’t not do”

Dr. Peter Hudson had "almost a cathartic journey" planned for Big Omaha 2013. "My thesis today is that if you experience life, and you live it to the fullest, and you do things that you're interested in," he said, "you will have experiences that lead you to big problems, problems that really matter." He took

Dr. Peter Hudson is a physician and entrepreneur with more than 15 years experience founding and growing health care-related businesses. He has been a serial entrepreneur with four exits, a health care investment banker and last year, CNN Money named him to their list of “12 Entrepreneurs Reinventing Healthcare.”

Dr. Peter Hudson had “almost a cathartic journey” planned for Big Omaha 2013. 

“My thesis today is that if you experience life, and you live it to the fullest, and you do things that you’re interested in,” he said, “you will have experiences that lead you to big problems, problems that really matter.” 

He took the audience back to when he was 10 years old, saw his father have a grand mal seizure and kept a cool head. Then he talked about inventing a fence-climbing device, attending an all-Spanish school in Guatemala, studying Russian literature and Latin American political science (read: dictators) and taking a year off “dreaming” as a rafting guide, ski coach and tree trimmer.

All those experiences led Hudson to medicine, which took him to Africa, where Masai warriors called him to the hospital by banging a spear on his window, and to Oakland, Calif., where he treated gang members who had been stabbed and shot.

Then one day, he came home from an ER shift to find his wife struggling to breathe. Suddenly she was in the ICU with pneumonia and he was bribing nurses to explain what medicines she was getting and which doctors were cycling by her bedside.

“Despite being a part of the medical field, I felt like I was outside the tent,” he said. Thereafter, he could see the same mix of fear, frustration and confusion in his patients’ eyes.

“I knew that it was a core problem that I wanted to fix, but I didn’t know how to fix it,” he said. But Hudson couldn’t not fix it—a feeling he believes should precede every entrepreneurial venture.

The answer came with the advent of the iPhone. He realized he could disrupt the flow of information in health care, give patients the answers to “What can I have?” and “Where should I go?” and leverage that process to lower costs and create “a big group hug” with health care providers and insurance companies.

“It wasn’t easy,” Hudson said. “We launched in March 2009 to a massive audience of 50 people, most of whom were friends and family and investors. The next day we had 35.”

But with persistence and good luck, iTriage grew to 50 million annual users, was acquired by Aetna and is now “an autonomous, innovation-driven company within a Fortune 50,” he said. Do what you “can’t not do.”

“As you pursue your own entrepreneurial journeys, be open to the fact that they may come from your own experiences,” Hudson said, like “a really tall fence to climb, that you want to get over.”



Big Omaha is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Big Omaha Video Series is presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the U.S. with a mission to foster a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, continuing the improvement of their communities.

Credits: Video by Quadrant5. Snippet photo by Malone & Company.


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