The Comeback: How One Entrepreneur Reversed His Fortunes

Pediatrician Michel Cohen founder of Tribeca Pediatrics had a booming business, a best-selling book and downtown NYC celebrity baby cred until the bottom dropped out. How did he get back on top?

NY Observer Pediatrician Michel Cohen Photos by Francesco Sapienza/For New York Observer
Pediatrician Michel Cohen Founder of Tribeca Pediatrics photo by Francesco Sapienza

From the outside, fit and photogenic French-born physician Michel Cohen was on his way to becoming the 21st century’s answer to Dr. Spock. In the early 2000s he ran Tribeca Pediatrics, a smart, hip, high-quality New York City practice that catered to the neighborhood’s smart, hip parents, whose children he saw in his signature quirky medical office — think Pee-wee’s Playhouse meets a Wes Anderson film set. The media loved him and parents appreciated his common sense, low-intervention medical approach to children’s health.

Things were going so well that he opened up another office in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the healthcare industry was in flux with expanding regulations, upheavals in technology, rising pharmaceutical prices and dramatic cuts in insurance reimbursements. As a result, many doctors were abandoning their private practices to join corporate healthcare clinics and hospitals. (A report from Accenture shows that the percentage of U.S. independent physicians plummeted from 57 percent in 2000 to 33 percent in 2016.) But Cohen, who spent his days biking back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge, managing his growing practice, seemed to be bucking the trend.

Or so he thought. One morning in 2008, he received a very disturbing call from his bank. “They told me I was $400,000 in debt,” Cohen says. “I was in complete shock.” To make payroll that month he had to borrow $30,000 from a friend.

Our story in Entrepreneur’s Startups Magazine here