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Pharmpreneur of the week Michael Nashat: "The biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur is getting started."

My key driving force to become an entrepreneur was fueled by my passion for patient care and my desire to make a meaningful impact and change in the healthcare industry. Throughout my career in pharmacy, cannabis, neuroscience, and community pharmacy, I witnessed the crucial intersection of business and patient care.
Michael Nashat



2008. Doctor of Pharmacy - PharmD, Pharmacy

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 


Pharmacy Owner 

Board Member–OnPharm United 

Managing Director–Prince Rx 

Former President/CEO of TerrAscend Corp 

What excites you about being an entrepreneur? 

The excitement about being an entrepreneur for me is innovation and problem solving. I love solving problems and asking how we can innovate a product or a service and how we can make it a better experience for the end user. Being a pharmacist with a regulatory background, I also love solving problems and working on complicated projects to ensure regulatory compliance as well as business success. 

How has your entrepreneurial career evolved since your graduation? 

I have had an opportunity to have a variety of experiences since graduation. After my PharmD, I completed my Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Neuroscience Medical Strategy at Rutgers University/Bristol Myers Squibb. It was there that I learned about healthcare stakeholders including the role of the FDA, payers, researchers and healthcare professionals in the healthcare ecosystem. I then joined my dad and my brother in Canada in our community pharmacy business. I learned how business and patient care intersect in ensuring a pharmacy can be sustainable to serve its patients and be financially viable.  

With the advent of drug reform changes, I found myself very active in my profession. I attended budgetary meetings with mentors and worked with my dad and pharmacist leaders to co-found OnPharm Inc Pharmacy Group. I served as the executive director of the organization until 2016 and grew its membership to over 230 pharmacies. Today, OnPharm United is the largest independent pharmacy purchasing group in Canada with over 600 pharmacies. 

During my tenure, I continued to be involved in the profession and served on the board of the Ontario College of Pharmacists, Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy, and Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada. I also served as a member of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care's Pharmacy Council, and the Co-chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association's Owners Advisory Council. 

With medical cannabis legalization on the horizon in Canada, I decided to take my pharmacy, regulatory and neuroscience experience and cofounded a medical cannabis companycalled TerrAscend. This provided me the opportunity to serve patients in a different way. As CEO of TerrAscend, we became the first company to sell cannabis in Canada, Europe, and the United States legal markets. Today TerrAscend sells cannabis in six markets across North America with over $248M USD annual sales.  

Today I work in the pharmacy sector. I have cofounded and invested with my partners to grow their community, compounding and specialty pharmacy and technology solutions through business development, financial insights and regulatory support.  

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur? 

My key driving force to become an entrepreneur was fueled by my passion for patient care and my desire to make a meaningful impact and change in the healthcare industry. Throughout my career in pharmacy, cannabis, neuroscience, and community pharmacy, I witnessed the crucial intersection of business and patient care, which motivated me to find innovative ways to serve patients and deliver care differently. Active involvement in my profession and drug reform changes allowed me to recognize the challenges and opportunities within the industry, driving me to create solutions. As I took on leadership roles, served on boards, and participated in advisory councils, I developed an entrepreneurial mindset, which inspired me to explore new ventures. The success of TerrAscend, becoming the first company to sell cannabis in multiple legal markets with significant annual sales, validated my drive for growth and expansion in the healthcare sector.

How do you define success? 

For me, success is defined by the impact I have on patients' lives and their overall well-being. It's about making a positive difference and improving how healthcare is delivered. Additionally, I measure success through my entrepreneurial achievements, such as founding and growing ventures like OnPharm Inc Pharmacy Group and TerrAscend. Being able to establish businesses, explore new markets, explore unchartered ventures and grow sales and business performance is important to me. Moreover, I value professional recognition and influence, actively participating in organizations and boards to shape policies and advance my profession. Lastly, personal fulfillment and growth play a crucial role. Continuously learning, developing skills, and feeling satisfied in my work contribute to my definition of success. 

As a successful entrepreneur, what continues to drive you? 

Several factors continue to drive me. First, my passion for patient care remains at the forefront of my motivation. Having witnessed firsthand the intersection of business and patient care through my background in pharmacy, post-doctoral fellowship in neuroscience, and experience in community pharmacy, I continue to seek innovative ways to serve patients and make a positive impact in the healthcare industry. Second, the desire to create solutions and make a meaningful impact drives me to remain actively involved in my profession and participate in drug reform changes. This motivates me to establish and grow successful ventures, such as OnPharm United and TerrAscend, that can help address industry challenges and improve patient outcomes. Third, the drive for growth and expansion fuels me to explore new frontiers and opportunities within the healthcare sector. Overall, my passion for patient care, entrepreneurial mindset, desire for impact and innovation, and drive for growth and expansion continue to motivate and drive me as a successful entrepreneur. 

What are the biggest challenges to being an entrepreneur? 

The biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur is getting started. The healthcare industry is vast and complex with endless opportunities for improvements. Finding your first solution/problem that you want to take on can be challenging especially since inexperience is the biggest hurdle. This is why I recommend working with/partnering with an established entrepreneur in the field to ensure that you can validate business ideas, focus, plan, develop and executed the business plan and the financial forecast which is the backbone in order in any successful venture. 

How do you manage work/life balance? 

Managing work/life balance is tough for an entrepreneur but it is very important. As a business owner, achieving a perfect work/life balance is an ongoing challenge. While I do my best to set boundaries and prioritize self-care, the reality is that when you are a business owner, you never really disconnect. My work is always on my mind, and I am constantly thinking about ways to improve and grow the businesses I own. However, I do recognize the importance of taking breaks and making time for personal and family activities. When possible, I delegate tasks to trusted colleagues, and I try to use technology (such as Calendly and Microsoft To Do) to wisely to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Additionally, I am flexible and adaptable, recognizing that achieving balance requires ongoing effort and adjustment. Ultimately, I strive to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life, recognizing that it may not always be perfect, but it is essential for long-term success and personal well-being. 

What books/resources do you recommend for every entrepreneur to check-out? 

I think the books/resources that everyone entrepreneur needs vary depend in the entrepreneurship stage they are in and the experiences that they had. Having mentors to guide is a key for success. I was lucky that I had accomplished business mentors around me like my dad, experienced pharmacy owners and other successful entrepreneurs. My favourite readings include From Good to Great, Harvard Business Review, The Globe and Mail, The Tipping Point, Outliers and Blink. 

What advice would you give to colleagues who want to become entrepreneurs? 

Every organization you are affiliated with is a business. They need to bring in money whether it’s through sales, billing, membership, or tuition fees. They need to ensure that their costs are covered by the funds that they bring in. The pharmacy curriculum program primarily focuses on patient care, pharmacology, and clinical practices, with limited emphasis on business education. As a result, upon graduation many pharmacists may lack the necessary business acumen and entrepreneurial skills to navigate the complex healthcare industry and start their own ventures.  

My advice is to learn the business that you are in. Understand how and why the money comes in. What are the costs to run the business and keep it going. How can it grow and what will be the cost of that growth. If you learn how a business works, build a network of advisors and partners, be adaptable and change the status quo, you will be in a position to build a viable business plan and succeed. 

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