Young Business Owner Thrives at Insight Park

Ole Miss alumnus takes fast track to launch to own health care product business, go international

Jonathan Scala.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Jonathan Scala. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Walking the halls at the University of Mississippi’s Insight Park, one might glimpse a lean young man dressed in Ole Miss tennis gear and mistake him for an MBA intern. But Jonathan Scala is nobody’s intern – he’s the unassuming president and CEO of JS Health Partners.

And he might be dressed casually because he’s headed out to Dubai to discuss expanding his business globally.

A native of San Diego, Scala went to high school in Oxford and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accountancy at Ole Miss. He became a licensed CPA in Tennessee and, after working in public accounting only six months, became a vice president of finance for a commodity trading and distribution firm. Two years later, in 2009, he started JS Health Partners.

“I realized that money buys time, not happiness,” Scala said. “When I looked at how many hours I put in and the length of time it would take to make the salary I desired, I thought I could accelerate that time schedule and make things work faster on my own.”

Scala entered into the profitable health care business through selling various patient bedding products to large national health care corporations.

“I learned to foster relationships and grow trust with cotton-based product manufacturers from Pakistan,” he said. “I met my textile manufacturing partner in a hotel bar in Frankfurt Germany, while eating a pepperoni pizza and having a beer. It was my last night there and I didn’t care for the food. Fast forward from that day, and we have done over $5 million together in that category alone.”

Scala was also able to get his business going without outside investor dollars.

“I didn’t want to accept investor money in the early stages, as the valuation of my business was fairly low and I didn’t want to give up too big a piece of the pie for such a small investment amount,” he said. “I wanted to take a stab at it on my own, as I had saved about $100K of my own money and wasn’t going to take investor money until I absolutely needed to.”

With some of the nation’s top 20 health institutions, plus local facilities such as Graceland Care Center and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, as clients, Scala predicts he will further his business both domestically and internationally in hopes of reaching eight-figure sales targets.

Besides being a business owner, Scala is a successful investor and adviser. He owns a real estate company called Layla Real Estate, with rentals in Oxford, and also is an investor and consultant for a technology company in San Diego and an apparel company in New York.

He attributes his business acumen to his uncle, Robert Slaughter III, who is a law partner with the national law firm Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith in Los Angeles. However, his entrepreneurial spirit comes from his father, who was absent during his adolescent years.

Owner of a large chain of Hallmark stores, his father asked Scala to work for him during the summer of his 18th birthday. Scala continued to work for him in the summer and all holidays throughout college. During Scala’s senior year at Ole Miss, his father had a stroke and was unable to manage the stores, so Scala left school for six weeks to return to California with some friends to handle his father’s business. It was during that time that he felt confident that he, too, could be an entrepreneur.

Most recently, Scala made the sound decision to relocate to Insight Park. “My clients are mostly large regional health care systems and associated industrial laundries, who rarely visit in person so the actual office space isn’t of utmost importance,” he said. “However, further deepening my relationship with my alma mater and the university’s resources were a major attraction.”

At Insight Park, Scala has access to the nursing school for clinical research, as well as MBA interns on hand to mentor.

“We are delighted that Jon Scala chose to locate JS Health Partners in the Innovation Hub at Insight Park,” says William Nicholas, the park’s assistant director. “He is a dynamic entrepreneur who has enjoyed many early successes due to his tremendous drive, passion and persistence. I am in awe of his accomplishments and I appreciate that he is so willing to share his expertise with our less experienced entrepreneurs. ”

In the future, Scala plans on expanding the footprint of JS Health Partners both domestically and internationally, as well as furthering existing investments and keeping an eye out for additional investment opportunities. He has been formally invited for a second visit by the Director of the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia to install his business plan, the first business of its kind in the region.

“I’m no one special,” Scala said. “I believe that if you have a good business plan and can offer and deliver value that is both qualitative and quantitative and conduct business with honesty, integrity and with a smile, good things can happen. At the end of the day, I hope to look back and say I had a lot of fun.”