Before he was even out of high school, Bill Rader began his first company. He will proudly tell you that he was into scuba diving “before diving was cool.” Prior to graduating, Bill Rader appeared in the newspaper and hung out with Jacques Cousteau. So, yeah, you could say he was “cool” from the start.
Perhaps cooler was the company he grew—literally—from his hobby. Bill’s first business arose from the sand dollars he found on his scuba trips. He would pre-sell them and seek out the quantities needed to fill his orders. This wasn’t as easy as he had anticipated, though, and orders were climbing.
You may see where this is headed…Bill’s first business venture took shape when he began farming his own sand dollars. He was raising fields of sand dollars beneath the water, harvesting them, processing them, and packaging them. He sold them to be gold-plated—all of his sand dollars transformed into 24 karat gold. This was a huge fad in the late 70s and early 80s; Bill sold 4 million. It’s casual.
He sold the company just before the fad ended, and graduated high school at 18 and driving a Porsche. After spending time in the military as a submarine reactor controls engineer during the Cold War, Bill would start a series of other companies with varying degrees of success. Another business would begin and fail; Bill attributes this failure to his lack of understanding about the business sector. He would then go on to found a home automation company; Rader calls himself a pioneer in the industry. We don’t disagree. Though he feels it was ahead of its time, the company was the largest home automation company in the world in 1994. Bill would eventually sell the company, rationalizing that the timing wasn’t right.
After one other business venture, started in 1999 and sold this December, Rader would settle into his current startup, Efferent Labs. Efferent Labs began in 2011 and satisfied Bill’s self-advice of “doing what you love, doing what you know, aligning the timing, and defining success as more than a dollar sign.” He attributes this wisdom to each of his former startups and the lessons he drew from each. Efferent Labs illustrates his fifth piece of advice:
“The most important thing in life is doing the right thing.”
It would not be a grand exaggeration to say Bill Rader has done it all. He’s had five startups, lived in 18 states, experienced great success, and felt great loss. In fact, it was after the loss of both parents to cancer, coupled with a particularly severe bout of MS symptoms, that Bill would land on his final venture. It has not been a straight path by any means, but Rader has found what he feels he was meant to do. Efferent Labs, founded by Dr. Spencer Rosero and himself, is going to change lives and save them. It’s going to revolutionize cancer treatment, and, eventually, medical cures across the board.
Click here to read more about the inception of Efferent Labs and their growth in Buffalo, NY.
Click here to hear from Rader himself on his lessons learned.
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