Masters of Verticals

Justine Musk was quoted as saying, “Choose one thing and become a master of it. Choose a second thing and become a master of that. When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.”

The aforementioned passage was said in the context of what it takes to become a billionaire in an interview with Business Insider in 2015. The advice never left me. At the time I read that article, I was at the pinnacle of achieving a goal I set for myself at age 18 when I was hired by The Ritz-Carlton: to become a Sale & Marketing Director in hospitality. I was led into luxury hospitality in my first high school job and learned the industry with a fervent passion and a quest to discover the ingredients that make high-end hospitality what it is. I discovered that the formula, as I understand and preach, is a combination of an innate set of intangibles (i.e. feel for people, desire to create an experience, and care for the details) + reducing friction in every imaginable way (i.e. no waiting, anticipation of needs, no noticeable defects in a room, perfect cuisine). 

The hospitality mindset served me well when my wife, Dr. Rachel, and I embarked on opening our Medical Aesthetics practice, Contempo Aesthetics, in 2015. For the first time in 11 years I was at the bottom having to work myself up and learn a new industry. It was a lot of research, self-education, and hard work. But together we bootstrapped, scaled, and – 7 years later – established a platform for ourselves as successful practice owners, as well as trainers and consultants in the space. It was applying the same principles of hospitality that had made me a successful director that guided my instincts and business acumen in aesthetics. 

The pain points: while building our practice, I felt inefficiencies on the payments and financing side. I was shocked at how – as a physician’s office – we could have such difficulty attaining financial products to help us at the beginning (first 3 years). We dealt with red tape everywhere: small credit limit from our credit card, too young to obtain an SBA loan, rejected for grants, rejected for lines of credit from institutional banks. We believed in ourselves and I had the will to push forward even when the times were tough, financially. As someone who embraces Fintech, I sought out instruments such as lines of credit to aid in acquiring as much working capital as necessary to build and scale. These helped, but at a cost – upwards of 48% interest – when borrowing. And on top of that, we felt the pressure from our vendors to buy in bulk and, at times, overextend our cash flow, to buy into higher “tiers” for better pricing. 

In the Medical Aesthetics industry, any purchasing incentives – terms, discounts, sample products – are at the discretion of the manufacturers / vendors. It would be ideal if practices had more autonomy over their ability to acquire reasonably-priced capital (no matter the stage of the practice’s life), and earn rebates and rewards that they could actually use to help improve practice cash flow and build their business with. 

Enter Aesthetics Card. A business credit card to reduce friction and reward practices. We are currently building. On the horizon is a consumer card, with a robust suite of perks and rewards helping to bring luxury and the ease of high-end hospitality to our vertical. Together, these cards will transform the 25 billion dollar industry with sexiness and luxury.

With Aesthetics Card, I am venturing into a new (3rd) industry. I seek to become a master in an effort to help push myself professionally and personally and to bring my unique and extensive knowledge and expertise to Fintech; bridging three verticals that intrinsically are not all that different. The principles are the same. The innovation is unique.  

John Bergano
December 20

A Letter to the Community

Dear ScaleHealth Family, 2021, what a year! This year, like last year, has been filled with a multitude of unexpected twists, turns, pivots, and opportunities.