"There was nothing to stop me": How a Young Entrepreneur Beat Ill Health to Build a Thriving Business

by Anna Bailey
Jan 29, 2019 8:30 AM ET
When Emilio Giordano decided to start his own business in 2014, he was facing a tough few months. Aged just 21, he was on the waiting list to have open-heart surgery for the fourth time. Giordano was born with the heart condition aortic stenosis – a narrowing of the aortic valve – that had seen him in and out of hospital since birth. “I was set to have the operation the previous year, but the doctors agreed to defer it until I finished uni,” he says. “Then, after I graduated, it was delayed. It was frustrating because I couldn’t apply for jobs. That’s when I started thinking about doing my own thing.”
Life up to that point had been far from easy for Giordano, whose childhood on a small farm in Wales was punctuated by his condition. “I had my first open-heart surgery at three days old, then again at [ages] five and 11, before my fourth at 21. I had several other smaller procedures, too. Growing up, it meant I couldn’t do the sorts of things my friends did. I used to play football but I struggled to keep up, and I couldn’t play contact sports like rugby. I think I would’ve been a sporty person if I could’ve been, so it did hold me back.”