August 29, 2022

Episode #48: Don Fish – IVFCRYO

Don Fish is widely considered one of the foremost authorities in cryogenic fertility preservation, storage, distribution, logistical operations, and cryogenic systems design/evaluation.

Don has a long and rich history of experience as an executive in reproductive & stem cell cryo-preservation, cold-chain logistics & solutions, cryogenic facility design, and risk mitigation consulting. That experience spans more than two decades and multiple industries to include IVF Biobanking, Stem Cell Biobanking, Healthcare, Clinical Research, Biotech, and Pharma industries.

Prior to founding IVFCRYO, Don had global oversight in the biorepository of the largest reproductive tissue bank (California Cryobank), the largest egg bank (Donor Egg Bank), and largest stem cell bank (Cord Blood Registry). Don also helped launch the California Cryobank “Life Sciences” brand by extending into the medical device market and overseeing the launch and operations of the Kitazato USA brand of products.

Before his work at California Cryobank, Don helped launch one of the very first NIH biorepositories at Indiana University servicing clinical research studies with companies such as Eli Lilly, Covance, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer foundation.

Don has been a contributor of organizations such as AATB, AAB, AABB, ASRM, and ISBER organizations and has consulted or been a contributor in multiple published best practices and white papers in the IVF, stem cell, and general biorepository fields.

Don is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, having served as a medic at the largest U.S. training facility in Europe (Hohenfels Training Facility) and then following up his several years of active duty in the Indiana National Guard.’

He is now the CEO and Founder of IVF CRYO located in Fishers, IN who’s primary focus is to help the fertility industry mitigate the risk of specimen loss/damage through best practices. IVF CRYO is a premium cryogenic solutions company that provides gold standard services that are specifically designed to meet the needs of the IVF industry and their patients. IVF CRYO now offers Premium Courier Services for transferring reproductive tissue, Cryogenic Laboratory Moves, Offsite Tissue Storage, Industry Leading Cryogenic Equipment Sales, and Consulting Services throughout the United States.

Transcript

hello this is coach Tim Campsall and I’m your host for the self-made myth make a difference together show where we are talking with successful business owners to hear their story of the journey to building their business and because we know that running a successful business and achieving success in business is not something that we can do on our own we’re taking time out to recognize the folks that have helped us along that Journey I’m excited to have a fellow business owner with us today from Indiana my guest has a combination of a passion and perseverance which has served him extremely well in business he enjoys spending time at the lake with his friends and family and he’s proud of the business he’s created that’s allowed him to walk away from a paying job welcome Don to the show today hello Don I like that thanks for the introduction well hey let’s have you uh continue with that uh intro tell us a little bit about yourself introduce yourself tell us about your yourself your personal story maybe you know where you were born where you live a little bit about your family sure you know you you gave me the best introduction right I’m uh the founder of IVF cryo and CEO I grew up like you in Indiana um or at least you’re in Indiana um I grew up in a place called Anderson Indiana a little North of Indianapolis well known for automotive parts and things like that until the industry kind of shut down and went away but uh you know that’s what Anderson was was a was a factory Automotive uh Factory part so grew up there after high school actually joined the Army and went in as a medic and served almost four years in a hohenfels Germany largest training facility in uh Germany and so anyone going down um you know downfield to the um uh they’ll always get trained in hohenfels Germany and so that was pretty exciting to be a medic there lots of training accidents and other things going on there um and then I came back to Indiana of course came back to Indiana Indianapolis area and then I went to school at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis so that was great for me shortly you know I graduated with the Bachelor’s of Science degree in biology shortly after that I started working for Indiana University and started my biobanking um journey and career um that took me to California for about 10 years but now I’m back in Indiana running IVF cryo and having a great time fantastic awesome so you mentioned earlier I mentioned in your intro that you like spending time with the family so tell us about your family yeah well you know my dad’s gone he passed in 2006 uh but we were extremely close the whole time and we’ll I got a feeling we’re going to talk a little bit about that today during the during the show here and uh you know my mom had since moved down to Arkansas with her um brothers and sisters you know they’re all living down there but I still have family here you know my brother is here my friends are here that I grew up with and so you know just like I said on the weekends we’re either at a campfire or on the lake you know just kind of trying to find that time outside of business to relax our minds for a little bit fantastic so um is there a funny story Don that your friends like to your friends or family like to tell about you that you’d be willing to share with us today and you know what I my funny story is that I don’t have a funny story is it weird I’m sure there are funny stories about me out there I don’t know that I should share those I don’t know so what’s going to happen is when people when people hear this they’re going to tell us about the stories in the comments so that’ll I think that’s even better yeah tell us in the comments tell your funny stories about it there we go all right so don tell us how the business came about and at what point did you have the confidence that you could run your own business well the business came about I was already working in the industry and so I feel like after 10 years of working in the industry and you know I was mentored by some of the Legends in the industry um Kathy Rothman um Charles um oh shoot I’ll remember those names in a minute here but you know there’s some Legends in the industry that really mentored me throughout um and so I felt pretty comfortable um that I had all the knowledge and then you know I’ve been around where we acquired companies and started companies and launched new products so I felt like I could always run a business um and when I was a kid my dad actually ran a landscaping business and so if you ever want to know how to run a business if your parents should run a business that certainly helps you out through uh it does yes um and IVF cryo it’s actually uh what I think is a great story is that we came about as a necessity for the industry um IVF cryo entered the market as a consulting firm to help mitigate the risk of specimen loss and so at the time in 2017 2018 there was some wide media coverage of uh cryogenic tank failures that had embryos and oocytes and semen in them and other reproductive tissue that were all lost or damaged due to failures and it actually happened at multiple sites and very close proximity and timing you know over and over and over again and so it’s it’s one of the things that I was I was in the industry with and you know there weren’t a lot of experts going around that could help with this so IVF cryo entered the market right then we were already thinking about entering the market and so we launched uh initially as a consulting firm just to help you know mitigate that risk and help all the fertility industry learn what they can do to help prevent these things from happening and as you know as luck would have it as we’re going through and auditing these uh fertility clinics we actually found that there was a greater need than just Consulting that they actually needed much more services um for for the industry to provide to help mitigate the risk and so since then we’ve launched shipping Services we’ve launched lab cryogenic move Services we’ve launched you know Consulting off-site storage um and so all of those are really based around risk mitigation and preventing specimen loss awesome so for those uh listening who don’t understand the industry tell us a little bit more about uh about your company and what you guys do oh so Ivy of cryo um again our focus is risk mitigation but uh we are at cryogenic Solutions company that’s specific to the fertility uh industry and what that means is that the way um specimens are kept forever is that they’re frozen and neither they’re vitrified which means that they’re frozen really quickly and really cold but basically they’re stored in liquid nitrogen until they’re time to be used and so what we do as a cryogenic company is we can sell you the proper equipment and help design the proper equipment for it to be stored in another thing that we do is help transfer that tissue from one Clinic to another very safely with GPS and temperature monitoring and all these cool little features so that the client themselves can see that happening um and then we’ll also do large lab cryogenic moves as all as fertility becomes much more commonplace you have to open up new facilities and they have to be you know these Stellar you know world-class biobanks fertility clinics and then you need to move your tissue from one place to another and so IVF cryo helps move all of that cryogenic material from one place to another to the other lab extremely safely and the last thing that we do is uh we help clinics and fertility clinics and everyone in the industry mitigate the risk for what they’re doing internally projectally with best practices wow who would who I guess we would have should have fought it but it’s not something that’s top of mind for most of us but there’s quite a lot that goes on behind the scenes it sounds like yeah exactly right you would think you know there’s a lot to fertility and then really you know making sure that things are safe is a high priority yeah fantastic so don share us a story where someone pushed you or or inspired you that you could do it even maybe when you didn’t think that you could and the impact that that person had on you well I really like this question and you know it’s not I would say to somebody that pushed me and inspired me throughout my years is we’re gonna go back to my family it’s always my dad right so I was extremely close with my dad um from him going to baseball games and pushing me through baseball games um when things didn’t go right coaching my little league or you know when it came to business when it was time to run his business I think he was you know a huge influence on my life in fact I’ll show you a little bit of his story and that he worked for a factory almost all of his life grew up in Anderson worked in Anderson and then those factories closed down and so when those factories closed down all of them closed down there were no jobs to be found around and so you have to figure out what are you going to do when that just happens and you have a family right um and so you can go try to find a job go move you know there’s a ton of options what he did I thought was extremely spectacular and that he talked to my mom he talked to my brother and he said I’m going to launch our own business I’m gonna take my pension that we have there we’re all in on this every bit of money all in we’re gonna launch our own business and he launched a landscaping business um my mom did all the finances my brother was an operations director at the time my dad you know oversaw sales and I as a younger kid would just work in the Summers doing landscaping which is the best job in the world and so I think as a young kid watching how he did things and how he was tasked with tough situations and how he handled those things I thought was both inspiring and you know he pushed me as well and so even though he’s no longer with us um he’s always right there for me in fact IVF cryo is owned by another LLC called ihove and it’s i-h-o-af and it stands for in honor of Arthur fish and so that just tells me everything I go in the building and I see the I hope sign you know it reminds me what I’m doing here and what my purpose is um what a what an incredible Legacy to memory a way to honor your dad that’s awesome well thanks I I really like it again whenever you can go in the office um and have a reminder of what’s your reason what’s your why why are you doing this and how you should be acting and how you should care yourself that’s the way I do yeah it reminds me of uh sign it sign in Simon sindex book start with why in terms of we all have to have that purpose that greater reason why we’re doing what we’re doing if it’s you know if it’s just based on money well it’s easy to get discouraged and frustrated and right and want to give up but if we’ve got that bigger reason that bigger purpose and it sounds like you certainly do thank you for sharing that with us yeah absolutely thank you for the question I thought it was a great question so don what’s your biggest learning as a business owner you ever see that show Big Brother yeah you watched big brother yeah they always say expect the unexpected that’s my biggest learning is to expect the unexpected we launched in 2018 it really didn’t do business until 2019 and if you know the timeline covid happened early in 2019 um shortly after that you know all the all the Ruckus with political uproar now we’re dealing with inflation and so that I would say my biggest learning is to expect the unexpected um and know how to Pivot right and I think most business owners will say it doesn’t matter whether it’s covid it doesn’t matter whether it’s the economy it doesn’t matter whether it’s inflation there’s always going to be something coming up right and so I’d say the biggest learning that it is expect that something is going to happen it’s not going to be all smooth for you know how to Pivot or else you won’t survive um and that’s just the truth yeah I I love their advice on knowing how to Pivot so unfortunately when covet came about a lot of business owners kind of just ducked their head in the sand right and said hey this is going to pass over in a couple weeks we’ll all be fine in a couple weeks turned into a couple years and unfortunately a lot of business owners who didn’t pivot um you know are no longer around and on the on the other side the positive side of that there are many who did pivot right and they actually came out of covet significantly stronger than they went in because they just figured it out right they’re like like your dad’s story they’re like we got to do something we’re gonna we’re gonna figure this out right and it’s not easy you know and I would never come down and say that someone didn’t do the right thing during covert because no one could expect that but all of the survivors and I mean all of them I guarantee you they pivoted in some way and they changed Direction and they figured out how they can still do business whether it’s doing Zoom Meetings online or whether it’s opening up a fast food lane or whether it’s doing liver here however it was a lot of people that survived in fact I’d say everyone that’s still open you know pivoted in a big way they sure did yes it was a it was definitely a crazy time I’m not sure it’s over no positive it’s over well to your point there’s there’s just gonna be the next thing right whatever that whatever that ends up being the next thing right now that it’s inflation now it’s going to be something there’s always going to be some type of challenge expected unexpected be ready to Pivot I mean it’s always in my head all right if something comes up what’s the next thing how do I do that and so you know that’s I don’t know if that’s advice but that’s how we did it yeah that’s how we survive and to your point it’s not even like you can plan what the pivot’s going to be because you won’t know where to Pivot until the thing becomes so you just have to be ready to act quickly exactly you know I don’t I was reading I think I watched some of those uh TV shows and I’m a shirt you can edit if we go over on time maybe I watch some of those TV shows about how Budweiser pivoted during the when they shut all the alcohol down right and so they started making soap or they started doing this you know there’s a million other things I’m sure that most people would have thought that they would have had to shut down their business during prohibition but they found a way they pivoted and found a way to stay open yes indeed Don we know that business success doesn’t happen in isolation so tell us about your biggest business challenge during the years and and maybe a fellow business owner who came alongside you and helped you get through that I’ll use covet as an example I’m sure that’s come up a million times for you and it’s no different just since we’re on that topic um you know during covid we couldn’t necessarily talk to people we had to go to zoom meetings or you know a lot of the businesses shut down and weren’t open um and so it was we were in growth phase that year so we were we had designed things and we were ready to grow and that requires going to conferences and meeting people and all of that had stopped right and so as a new business how do you figure out how to Pivot and what to do and so actually one of my friends uh called Michael Levin owned some businesses in the same Arena out in California and he had actually you know had several coaching discussions with me I think and you know I’m really thankful that for that and what he had said and advice he gave me and I followed it was let’s focus you know why don’t you focus on the things that you can control right now let’s focus on enhancing the business plan let’s focus on making sure that all your marketing materials are ready to go so when we’re open that’s ready to go your brochures let’s make sure that your website was ready to go um and enhance that let’s see the things that we can uh work on luckily we did have business that we could continue on but there was a lot of things that we could do you know really what kova did for us was give us a pause and say let’s really solidify our business so next year hopefully when this is ready to go we’re in three weeks or two weeks um then we’re ready to shoot to the Stars right we’re ready for that growth 100 and that’s what we took the time to do there are a million other people that helped me through that same thing my business partner Brian Hoff you know my brother who was you know always there on the phone saying hey what are you doing for covet you know what’s happened how are you gonna and you know he would help me pivot as well but um there’s quite a lot of people but I remember Michael Levin had sat down and coached me and I you know spent countless hours in his office going through those things it reminds me of the idea of slow down to speed up so you you took a pause you got some of the things together that you may not have really had the time to do if you were you know just running into lawn so that’s that’s awesome that you got that advice Stephen Covey he he has that principle of circle of influence versus circle of concern right and we can often get ourselves caught up in the things we can’t control but if we focus on the things that we can control then our circle of influence actually expands because as we control those things like there’s then a multiplier effect of the you know more things pop up that we can control and and our circle of influence grows and you know what it occupies your brain in a different way instead of stressing out on the things that you can’t control which is really just what you just said I was able to focus on you know all these great things and be ready to grow so it really just helped the business in the long run as you’re running and growing a company you almost never have the time to sit back and say all right Y and Z I really think this through again um so it allowed us that time I don’t want another kova to come we utilize it to the best of our ability I think yes so for everyone listening yes we’re not gonna ask for another covet but maybe the takeaway is slow down right take some time to to focus on the the items that you don’t usually focus on right get some of the fundamentals in place and and get yourself prepared for the next level of growth that’s tough though you know that’s probably the toughest thing is that everyone wants to grow so fast um and it’s hard to do that with maintaining quality and you know you’re going and going and going you know no one’s stopping so I agree with you when you get a chance or maybe you make a strategic decision to take a few weeks to do that in fact that’s something that we’ve recently done is every year now we try to take a week to at least do a strategic meeting that’s several days um to go through those that’s awesome I I um it’s mandatory for all of our clients to come together once a quarter for a full day of of planning the next the next 90 day plan right so that nice get out of the office right get away from the day-to-day commit yourself to that one day of planning so that you know you when the next quarter comes you’re ready to hit the ground running love that yeah you mentioned mindset too Don it’s like 90 of whether we’re going to be successful is is based on the messages that we tell ourselves in our head right is that right yeah I also telling myself more positive things yes and indeed yeah yeah like right we all have these lies right that I’m not good enough I can’t do it I’m not capable whatever they are right and so the key is to recognize those and and write down the opposite in a in a positive affirming way right I’m not good enough I’m more than capable right I don’t have the knowledge I I I’m ready to take on this I’m ready to learn I’m I I am learning how to be a better version of myself whatever that is because you know the law of attraction says that we’re going to get whatever we believe whatever we think in our head so the more we can cut off the negativity and replace it with positive affirming thoughts then that’s what’s that what’s going to end up happening in in our personal life as well as in our business I’m a big believer then and let me tell you those voices are going non-stop business owner or just a person in general you know that self-doubt is always in there you know but now oh man there’s something else but yeah you just got to keep positive right keep pushing through no matter what and hopefully good things happen yeah and everything that generally speaking everything that we want in life and everything that we want in business is on the other side of our comfort zone so if we’re constantly in the state of I haven’t done it before then it’s natural to have those self-doubts right and those questions and those fears and and so it becomes even more important as we’re growing something new that we cut those negative thoughts off and replace them with positivity because we can get caught in that spiral of you know I’m not good enough or um the the uh um the self-doubt and the fears or the Imposter syndrome is the word that that is possible yes absolutely think until you make it right there yeah right so don if I asked you to pick three people in your business owner Journey that you’re most grateful for being there as part of your business’s growth who are those three people and how they help you oh that’s easy one there’s about 50 or 60 of those people that she’s three it’s actually a pretty easy three one my brother um my brother has actually been involved with my business since day one and even before that you know we’re constantly on the phone talking about what could business look like why could uh it happen and all those voices that you just talked about and in your head of self-doubt and it’s not going to happen and what do I do now and what was me you know when you have something someone within your family or anywhere that you can talk to um and they always have your back no matter what and they’re always also there to give you a reality check and tell you to it how it is yeah a little high on the horse uh you know um so I really appreciate my brother number one and what’s your brother’s name Ed Fish okay awesome he’s a director of operations at the at the at the business now and um you know he’s been like I said been there since the beginning doing little things and anything anything that he can and so that’s number one for sure number two is my business partner Brian Hoff um when they tell you to find somebody with the different skill set than you yes Brian’s a godsend um Brian has a skill set of dealing with Finance uh Brian has a skill set of dealing with legal and Brian has doing um agreements and so Brian can look at line by line legal agreements for hours at a time and can look by sell by sell of Excel for hours and like for weeks on end and he’s having the best time in the world and so I’m extremely helpful for Brian um or are thankful for Brian for all the help that he’s given for his skill set being completely different what my skill set is and for just you know believing in the company the way that he does us you know we’ve worked together at California cryobank for about 10 years and so uh you know he was doing our finances already with IVF cryo and when we discussed and had the opportunity to come on board he was 100 in and we complement each other so well um and awesome I would suspect then that uh you staring at a legal document for two weeks is not something that would make you happy it makes me so mad

I hate it I just hate it who’s your last person uh my last person is actually our very first employee of IVF cryo and again there’s probably a million other people but I want to mention our very first employee uh Emmy Karimi um and it’s funny you know although we hired her to do one job she’s probably doing about 10 other jobs right now um and it’s always one that person that’s your first Superior employee is you know pretty special in the first place but when you see what they can do and it’s so more you know there’s such a high performer they’ve done so much more than anything that you could ask them to do um and so I’m extremely appreciative of that person and you know it’s even though the one thing I’ll say I joke with her it’s just a little bit annoying that when I whenever I go to visit clients they always say hey oh by the way Emmy’s great I love Emmy no one ever says Don you’re great I really love you but they say by the way Emmy’s great we love her every single person so maybe they’re telling her the same thing about you yeah

I’m fine with it I’ve come to terms with it right Don as you think about the next three to five years what are the biggest challenges you see that you’re gonna face in in hitting your goals and who are the types of people you’re going to need to overcome those that’s such a great question again putting a covered like scenario aside um you know I think for us and particularly it’s about growth we’ve we’ve taken that time we’ve created the foundation we believe we have the best products and services out there we believe that we’ve distinguished ourselves and that we’re extremely unique in our market and so um launching that growth is you know our primary mission is going to be our primary challenge um and the right people to do that and I will say even one more thing along with that it’s not just the growth it’s how do you grow without compromising the quality so we can grow extremely fast we touch that on that a minute ago but how do we do that and still maintain our quality of operations and our customer service um because we’re a customer based company um and the people it makes me that makes me think of so the difference between growing and scaling right so growing can happen and we trip all over ourselves and mess it up scaling means that we’ve got the foundation in place to support that growth yeah yes thank you for chiming in with that scaling which is probably a better word because when you scale you’re scaling everything including your quality and so you’re not compromising anything so I love that term um and then the people we want around us we’ve actually gone out and we’ve hired well we didn’t hire but we brought in a team of advisors and so this has been key for IVF cryo we have a lot of people that aren’t on that are not on our Advisory board that help us throughout the industry and I love that about the fertility industry it’s small it’s niche and everyone knows each other and everyone’s willing to help each other and so um I can’t give enough thank yous out there and name enough people for that um but I would say as we grow we want those people and so we went out and we had we have a team of advisors you know Adrian Allure is a Joe Joel Reynolds um is our quality person um Kathy Rothman who ran California cryo bank and I mentioned earlier and by the way the other owner was Charles Sims I can’t he’s gonna kill me you’re in his last name and so is everyone else um well now now you’re recovered so it’s all good recovered from it now right and so you know that’s how it’s scaling but then how do the kind of people that we need around us are people that have been in the business who have been there and done that and can kind of help us and that are willing to do that and luckily infertility there are a lot of good people that are willing to help us awesome Jim Rohn um one of my favorite authors says we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with so don as you think about that what advice would you have for business owners who are trying to do it all on their own yeah one don’t don’t don’t try to do it all on your own um I get it you know because it’s your baby right but as soon as you have the ability to bring in other people and get their help um definitely try it um scary part is that some of those people are probably limiting you the people around you and some of the people you need to bring in and find new people right so we went out and we found a team of advisors that you know I wasn’t good friends with before this I reached out to them told them what we were doing explained and they were able to come on to just help us um and we had other people in the industry um that I wasn’t necessarily friends with that are just willing to help us and once once you reach out for help and so one of the things I learned in business that we actually didn’t get to because you wanted just one is that you got to be willing to ask for help and when you are there are a ton of people there willing to help you but you have to ask for it yes yes you’ve got to make yourself vulnerable right because people aren’t going to just give the advice because they don’t want to come across as you know condescending or interrupting your life yes you’re right as soon as you say can you help me people love to feel like they’ve got the ability to you know share their wisdom with others and help others yeah absolutely so you know the people around you I would I would challenge people to expand their Circle and go after go talk to Industry experts that are in your industry get their opinions you know let them you know get their advice tell them what you’re trying to do get their advice a lot of people will give free advice and so uh take it take good free advice yes absolutely last question here Don if there was something catastrophic that happened in the business who’s the first person you’d call and what would you want from them well I’ve already answered this question if you you hear the same names throughout this so it’s gonna be my brother it’s going to be Ed Ed Fish um he’s the person you know whenever anything happens I call and complain to him um everything’s fine don’t worry about it quit complaining get up and uh and do something about it um and so that’s really really our relationship I love it and do you give it back to him as well I try yes the answer is yes if you were here he would say yes definitely absolutely 100 over uh so don you’ve been blessed with some incredible people who have helped you on your journey if they were all here on the show today what would you want to say to them well hopefully I say this to them all the time but you know every one of you that I mentioned and a million people that I haven’t mentioned here in the show and I mean a million people probably um they’re helping my dreams come true so thank you very much I think I say that quite often I think it’s not something that knew that they’re hearing but you know everyone you know that we’ve mentioned they’re helping my dreams come true my dreams to own a business my dreams for a better life and so I’m really appreciative of everybody out there I love it I’m done it’s been a absolute pleasure having you on today thanks for being on the show thank you I appreciate it Tim to everyone who tuned in thanks for listening to the self-made is a myth show with your host coach Tim cancel be sure to help us spread this Movement by liking the show and posting it on your social media channels and to join our movement go to bemadtogether.com all right folks that’s a wrap make sure to pay it forward and we’ll see you all next time take care