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Meet Nicholas Focil of FOMAT Medical Research in Greater LA Area

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicholas Focil.

Nicholas, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I got into research during high school. Over the summer of my junior year, my father (an MD) asked me to do a research paper on Vitamin D Deficiency. I’ve been invested in research ever since. During college, I worked for various labs and other doctors, including a nominated Noble Laurette, doing investigative/pre-pivotal trials along with other kinds of nonclinical research. This was all for the goal of building my curriculum to apply for medical school. During this time, I had started up a company that consistently had 50,000 monthly users, and we’re growing rapidly. At this time, my father recommended I get my MBA, as it would help my company grow, and so I did. I finished my exams, applied for schools, and got called in for interviews. A week before my interviews, I made the decision not to go to medical school. I had come to realize that business was my primary passion, with medicine being a very close second. I wanted to find a way to combine my two passions into a successful business.

It was at this time, I was managing a team for a company called Diverse Research Solutions. Part of the board wanted to expand into Latin America, while the other half did not. I helped lead the team wanting to expand with a spinoff company called FOMAT Medical Research. Six years later, FOMAT bought out its sister company Diverse Research Solutions. Now, the entire company was back under one umbrella. I have been the CEO of FOMAT ever since.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been a fun road, but not smooth. The two toughest challenges have been financing and human resources. Financing early on was a difficult undertaking. Being able to raise capital through some sweat equity was rough at first. You are financing yourself through debt, equity, and are constantly stretching your budget. For the first few years, I wasn’t paying myself a salary. Having to decide what opportunities to forego for the sake of monetary constraints was a tough obstacle to overcome.

Finding the right team to collaborate with was also quite the task. I wanted to make sure our team was culturally fit, shared the same vision, and had mutual respect for one another. Training someone in a complex industry like clinical research requires a huge learning curve. It usually takes 6-9 months for someone stepping into this industry for the first time to fully comprehend the complex ins and outs of clinical research.

Overcoming cultural divides was very important for me. Not only did we have several locations throughout Latin America (each with its own micro-culture), but also the distinct cultural differences in US culture between California, Florida, and the different lifestyles of the West and East Coast. Having to manage that and act as the middle-man between these different cultures can be difficult to navigate, but I believe that our diversity makes a better, stronger, and more well-rounded team overall.

Please tell us about FOMAT Medical Research – what should we know?
As a company, we help facilitate clinical research studies. FOMAT specializes in phase 2 & 3 clinical trials. We have an ongoing mission to create more diversity in clinical studies. As a result, we are a very diverse company. Our staff combined speaks over seven languages. We have operations across the United States and Latin America. Our goal is for drug development data to become more diverse so that it can help as many people as possible. Our mission is to break down the barriers that separate underrepresented people from medicine, whether that be language, medical accessibility, or economic accessibility barriers.

In addition to currently facilitating clinical trials, our team has been involved with the launch of the app Febo. It is currently creating a community to arm patients and their families with knowledge on a variety of conditions/disease of interest.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Ensuring that our team has a shared vision is very important to me. When everyone has the same end goal, our efforts and expectations can line up accordingly. I also look to hire people with a positive outlook. I prefer go-getters to people who see the glass as being half empty and are always looking for the next thing to go wrong. Working with someone with an aura of invigoration and innovation is very important to me.

I also think building a team with different traits makes us more well-rounded. Each individual we hire has different strengths and weaknesses. If someone has a head for numbers but is weaker in language, we want to find someone who helps fill that void. The two can then help one another and make the whole company run more smoothly. You don’t want to hire someone who thinks and acts entirely as you do. If you can hire someone smarter than you in a specific field (research and development, accounting, marketing, etc.) it’s usually to your direct benefit to do so.

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