Lauren Yen, 21
Company: Frontida Records
Title: Chief Executive
Location: University Park
Funding to Date: Approximately $18,500
What led you to start this business?
At USC, myself and one of my co-founders, Laura Roed, enrolled in an engineering course that designed and built solutions for use at Camp Moria, a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece. There we met nongovernmental organization clinicians and public health officials who needed a way to quickly search and document medical histories of refugees. We saw that the paper charts were difficult to use, easily lost, could be misinterpreted due to language barriers and poor handwriting, and were rarely shared among different health groups working in the camp. We were inspired to help them by creating a customizable electronic health records system to fit their ever-changing needs.
How are you funding your business?
We’ve done a bit of our own fundraising and received some grants. Going forward, we plan to license our software for an affordable monthly subscription fee. We will also fundraise and collect tax-deductible donations as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Are there advantages to starting a business in your 20s?
Starting a company in your 20s means going out on a limb. There are financial risks and occupational opportunities that you are giving up to pursue the growth of your company. Young people are also often juggling various roles. I am a master’s student at the Keck School of Medicine and CEO of Frontida. My colleague and our chief strategy officer, Quincy Guenther, has balanced running Frontida’s expansion efforts and operations, graduating from college and getting married — he even completed Frontida’s taxes on the day of his wedding. Another advantage: My team has received countless hours of free advice and support from professors, university-related mentors and professionals.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
I started brainstorming the idea of Frontida at the start of the pandemic. I realized there was a heightened need for electronic health record systems to document and track diseases like Covid-19. I recruited colleagues to build a digital Covid triage system for the refugee camp. This was our first application that later developed into a full EHR system. My team faced challenges in not meeting in-person due to social distancing requirements, yet I was encouraged how my teammates persevered and remained passionate during Zoom meetings about the mission of the project.
Where do you go for advice regarding your business?
Frontida received critical business advice from professors and programs at the USC Marshall School of Business and various startup incubators we participated in. We also gained insightful mentorship from Duet and Hikma Health, two wonderful nonprofits focused on aiding refugees.
Where do you go for professional services?
We have been kindly mentored by nonprofit consultants, lawyers, physicians, business experts and professors. We could not have developed Frontida without their support, guidance, and belief in us and our
Does social responsibility play a role in your business?
Yes. Frontida was founded with the social mission to develop custom, cloud-based health documentation tools for health providers and patients in low-resource, rural and developing communities. Our greatest hope is that our technology will make a difference in the lives of people using our software.
Do you feel that your business is particularly tailored to the Los Angeles market?
We could not have started Frontida anywhere but USC. And within the Los Angeles community, we met and have been supported by crucial mentors who have offered advice and guided us through various challenges. Without them, Frontida could not have been possible. That said, our EHR system can help health providers working in clinics all over the globe. We plan to launch in Panama and the Middle East in upcoming years.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy reading books, playing guitar and creating videos.
Keep reading the 2021 20 in Their 20s Special Report.