This podcast is with Scott Jens. Scott is the co-Founder and CEO of RevolutionEHR, a fast growing Wisconsin company that few truly know about. RevolutionEHR provides a cloud based electronic health record system for optometrists across the nation.
Scott was a practicing optometrist at Isthmus Eye Care for 24 years, recently ending his clinical practice in December 2015. Now he’s focused on RevolutionEHR where he’s been the CEO since 2006.
Scott and his co-Founder essentially bootstrapped RevolutionEHR for a long time before taking a large investment recently. Their story is quite impressive and educational. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
RevolutionEHR is located in Madison so this is an in-person interview, which is always nice.
Here are some other questions Scott answers:
-How did you start RevolutionEHR?
-How did you find your initial customers?
-Why did you continue to practice optometry long after RevolutionEHR was growing rapidly?
-How many customers do you have?
-What are some important lessons you’ve learned along the way?
David Kruse: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Flyover Labs with Dave Kruse from Madison, Wisconsin, and today we are lucky enough to have Scott Jens with us. Scott was an optometrist and CEO of RevolutionEHR, which provides a Cloud-Based Electronic Health Record Systems for optometrists across nations. So Scott was a practicing optometrist for many years, over 24 years. He recently ended that practice in this last December, 2015. And now he is focused on RevolutionEHR where he has been the CEO since 2006 or that’s when we joined RevolutionEHR. So I guess Scott has been a pretty busy guy. So Revolution is located in Madison. So Scott is here with me today and so that’s a special interview and we’re never into in-person interview. So I’m pretty pumped to learn more about Scott and his background and what he is doing now. So Scott, thanks for joining us.
Scott Jens: Thank you Dave.
David Kruse: So did I mess anything up on the intro there? Were you CEO in late 2006.
Scott Jens: Yes, I Co-Founded it.
David Kruse: You Co-Founded it.
Scott Jens: My technology partner.
David Kruse: Nice, all right. So of course we’ll get into that, but how did you – first let’s talk about kind of your background, before that your optometry background, how you got into it and what interested you?
Scott Jens: I came to Madison after going to University of Wisconsin, Madison and then to Optometry School in Chicago, the Illinois College of Optometry. Came back to Madison to start my professional career and had some help in financing the purchase of an eye care practice. I’ve been in practice of optometry in Madison since 1991 as you said and Co-Joined with a couple of other Madison optometrists to create a group practice called Isthmus Eye Care. We ran that practice really successfully, brought in some new doctors to partnership and throughout my career I was an Optometry Association Volunteer. I was President of the State Association and then was a National Optometry Volunteer and was Chair Person of our first every public health program that we Co-Founded with former president Jimmy Carter. My 15 minutes of fame in 2005 was sitting on a couch with Matt Lauer on the Today’s Show along with President Carter announcing the birth of this public health program which provided free eye assessments by Optometrists for babies to try to get ahead of eye problems that might be undetectable by the well intention pediatric eye visits that are done during well baby checkups. And anyway through being national media spokesperson and other things, I was traveling around the country seeing how my colleagues in Optometry were perfuming eye exams and was finding that they were all struggling with how to document the eye exams they did, a lot of which includes today medical eye services like glaucoma treatment and eye disease management and so forth, and became very passionate about helping doctors figure out how to document their eye care better. Of course in Madison we have always had epic systems, the world’s largest EHR company and it wasn’t because of that, but I suppose I was spurred a little bit by thinking about how to create a system deliverable that would be cloud based at that time and there was no such thing as cloud; this was 2005, but on computer based Mac or PC way to document eye care. And I came across a friend of mine who is a technologist who is working at Denver’s Childers Hospital, helping the pediatric cardiology transplant team come up with a way for the transplant physicians to be able to log into the records to see how their patients were doing. So he had already been ahead of this idea of remote access to technology and he said, why don’t we reapply what I have been doing to eye care records. So he and I started the company. In 2006 we incorporated as you said right here in Madison, but he as a UW graduate, computer science guy, had just moved to Minneapolis for his wife to work on a health system there and so he was in Minneapolis, I was in Madison and we started a virtual company where it was a Madison based company, but we was technology developing there and I was thought leading it here. And we thought if we built it right from my eye care practice in Madison, this would be a platform that will work for anybody. That was the birth of RevolutionEHR.
David Kruse: So before that, so why did you get into eye care, what attracted you way back then ’91 or…
Scott Jens: You know studies say that like three quarters of eye doctors have had a vision problem as a kit that gets them inspired to go into being an eye doctor. So the actual fact is my brother and I were both blind as bats when we were kids and I was really compelled by it. My bother worse than me and so it’s actually pretty typical that eye doctors go into being eye doctors because of something that impacted them positively by an eye doctor when they were a kid.
David Kruse: Interesting. So but you got your vision back, right. How were you able to see better, just glasses or…
Scott Jens: Yes, yes, glasses and contact lenses.
David Kruse: So you always had to, I see, I correction..
Scott Jens: Yes, yes.
David Kruse: Oh! Interesting, all right, cool, I like it. All right so that prompted you to get into eye care and then 2006, okay let’s start this company, but are you still working full time?
Scott Jens: So I am – I devoted my every waking hour when I was an eye doctor to building RevolutionEHR and so much so that at the time my four year old child told somebody that her daddy was a typist, because I was working morning and night on my laptop around my patient care schedule. Building the business plan, we were finalists in the Governors Business Plan contest and I don’t know in 2007 or something like that here in Wisconsin and we were very pleased with that. But I was spending every – devoting very minute I could to building the ideas for my partner to build the technology for this software and we put it in my practice in late 2006 in its earliest form, tested it that way and then I had five other optometrist friends across the country that I knew from my days doing my national volunteer work that also put it in their practices and then we launched the software in 2007 while I was still full time eye doctor and also CEO of RevolutionEHR.
David Kruse: I like it, yes. Well I mean that’s just a great way to start company. Everybody, like you kind of talked about this before the interview. You also raised it large around and go before they actually started business, some of the best ways to have something on the side, right and you kind of have this on the side and then kept building it. I mean as far as time commitment its ridicules, but that’s what it takes sometimes, it seems like…
Scott Jens: I was happy to spend the time, because I knew we were building something that was going to make my business better and again, I assumed other eye doctors businesses better. I had the fortune of keeping my salary at the clinic and so it allowed me to invest pretty much all that my wife and I had saved up into the business. My partner he worked for free, and he didn’t have another job. He was committing all his time, hoping that his wife’s salary would maintain, which is another way to be an entrepreneur. His version of the story is I put my career and alternative salaries on hold. I invested more money, he invested time and we went in as equal partners. So it was a really interesting way to go at it.
David Kruse: Interesting and so how – all right, so at what point did you start expanding beyond your practice and the other five practices, because like sales and business development, it takes a lot of time and energy. So how did you start slowly expanding?
Scott Jens: Yes, we in June of 2007 we attended the National Eye Doctor Conference and we had brought in in March a Sales and Marketing Director. She had had a history in selling pharmaceutical drugs and pieces of equipment to eye doctors, so she knew how to sell to eye doctors and we have know here from some past experiences. So we brought her in and she was the only paid employee at that time. We also brought in one of my old office managers to be our customer support direct to support the practices, so there were four of us and then there was another optometrist friend that was an advisor to the business, who had put some, put a bit of a risky in our note. We had a line of credit at the bank and he put his house up against that as my partner and I did. So you know it was way to float some additional funds when it was just founder money initially. And when we went out in June of 2007 to this conference, then we had somebody who actually knew how to sell and collect leads and manage the prospect line and that was when we actually got our first sales. It was in mid-2007, outside of the friends that had started with me.
David Kruse: Okay and what were optometrists using at the time and what did you bring that kind of revolutionized it, because that’s what – I kind of try to do that, but then I realized I was half way through the word I was like, oh yeah, I love it. What kind of revolutionized how they recorded it?
Scott Jens: Even the system I had in my practice, I was a Mac guy. Back in high school in the early ’80, the Apple 2 was how we were writing basic code programs to teach us in high school about what was going in the world of advancing computing, because Jobs and Wozniak has sort of gotten Apple 2 stood up and so I was an Apple guy and we had run an Apple patient management software practice that had been built by somebody in Green Bay. We thought that was pretty cool, that’s why I wanted to the system to across platforms. Just browser based was the way. My partner had said, no we’ll do this, we’ll do it across the web and AOL was really the only example of web based computing that I could think of going back at the time that everyone was using in 2006, right. So this was pre iCloud, pre iPhone, pre iPad, and all the eye care practices were using some sort of practice management patient software that it usually had something adding to it like a framed inventory software database or a computer based schedule book, and these systems that were an optometry had started to include electronic medical records and modules that you could clamp on to the patient management software, but they were clunky and bolted together component systems. So there were some software systems in optometry and our marketing, our sales and marketing gurus who we brought in, she identified that the differentiator for us wasn’t just that we were online so to speak, in the cloud, but that our system was centered around the patient record and there were no modules to pick. We provided everything as opposed to the medical record being an add-on and we started with the patient visit records that everything happens off of that, right. Once you put data in the patient record, the eye glass prescription, the medication prescription, the next appointment, the optical order, the claim that you said in the Medicare or to Blue Cross, Blue Shield was all hinging around that medical record. So the medical record was the core of our technology and the other thing that differentiated us from the build or the architecture of the software was our patient – our customer engagement model. Everybody else charged in the old fashion by-work station, which is a very clunky model, right, plus they had to have servers in house and other expenses. We were, hey whatever computer you have PC, Mac, it doesn’t matter. As long as you have an internet browser, you can access our software. So we are just going to charge you on a bi-license basis, that doctor being the license. So if you are a one doctor, three location practices with 10 staff, I don’t care how many computers you access from, I have to scale my deliverable to you base upon just you the doctor being the subscription center. So when we went at the market, we were, we did what we call the Costanza. In one of the Seinfeld’s episodes, George came to the conclusion that if everything he had otherwise done was wrong, he should do a 180 degree opposite and that must be right. So we took everything that was being delivered in optometry and said it must be wrong, let’s do 180 digress right. Cloud based, no server, by doctor subscription, simple, simple, simply and the really started nailing it in ’09 and 2010.
David Kruse: Now of course its super – very common place, but back then that was revolutionary. All right definitely different. I mean there is sales force being, sales force was just – around 2006 it was kind of getting their feet under them and starting to expand. So you guys were definitely ahead.
Scott Jens: Marc Benioff doesn’t know how much of a model the sales force was for us, because I was reading and their sort of things was the word software with the red circle and the line through it and we were really emulating much of what SalesForce.com had done, and our thinking as we developed our business plan and went forward. But one of the challenges for us is that our total addressable market was pretty small, we’re kind of niche vertical and we were struggling with fund raising. So simultaneous to bringing our customers was the idea that we were really bootstrapping the thing and unfortunately we didn’t get the kind of resources in that – the bigger, larger addressable market companies had. So that was a struggle, but we fought our way through it and persevered.
David Kruse: Okay, because how many – what is kind of your total addressable market? How many optometrists are there?
Scott Jens: There’s about 40,000 optometrist and there are some eye surgeon ophthalmologist that find our system potential compelling. So we were always operating under a less than 50,000 provider market and we could extrapolate it out through our subscription based cost concept to maybe a $150 million, $200 million addressable market.
David Kruse: It’s still sizable.
Scott Jens: It was sizable, but a lot of people that were advising me were telling me to repurpose the application to other health professions, say veterinary medicine or dentistry and sort of reapply the technology across other verticals to make the market bigger. That was partly because a lot of it were perspective investors, particularly Angel Funds and such were just not finding enough market to be comfortable. None of them ended up investing, so I’m actually quite pleased with that.
David Kruse: Yeah, that worked out for you, didn’t that? Interesting, all right. I’m curious, how long did it take to develop that initial, kind of initial product. It sounds like you guys have pretty evolved products. I’m sure it’s evolved over time, right.
Scott Jens: It has.
David Kruse: I’m curious to see how its evolved, but kind of at first initial, how long did it take to coat up the…
Scott Jens: It took generally about 18 months. To be clear we did work with an outsource shop in Edinburgh, Scotland to build it and the reason we used that shop is that we found that the original application on Adobe Flex, which was a way to build rich internet application technology, sort of Web 2.0 technology off of Adobe Flash. Well, and it was actually a macro media shop at the time. At that time that we were contracted with that, it was a macro media relationship. Of course as everyone knows today, Adobe ended up buying them and at that time we had to transition over to Adobe contract and ended up stopping with them after that, but the original application was all Flash based, which was great until 2010 when Steve Jobs sort of declared as phishing that with Adobe and said he wouldn’t put Flash on an iPad, so we’ve been repurposing the technology over to HTML 5 which has been necessary in advancing it anyway, but it’s always made the application look better and feel and perform better than anything else that any of our prospective customers looked at. So I’ll never be sad about having developed it with Adobe Flex. But with that being said, that original build was 18 months, but it was with that third party you know to get us off the ground. We had no other developers. It was just Jim and me, our support person and our sales person to start, just the four of us.
David Kruse: Interesting. And can you give a quick overview of kind of the current stats and like how many employees do you have and how many customers or whatever you can share will be – just give people an idea.
Scott Jens: We listed our business starting in 2012 in Inc Magazine, so we had to start to express those things publicly, because we wanted to you know help other budding entrepreneurs see how we were doing and what we were doing and actually that year we ended up on No. 544 on the Inc 5000 list. We just missed the Inc 500, the top 500, but we’ve fallen since then, because it’s hard to keep up the trajectory. But as of today we’re at about 150 employees and our total software revenue was projected by the end of this year to be about 13 million.
David Kruse: And is that recurring, all of it?
Scott Jens: Most of it is recurring. We do still – we see an initial upfront fee from our customers to sort of do the initial on-boarding and training and some data conversion from the old software, so most of it is recurring.
David Kruse: And your entire focus is on optometry?
Scott Jens: It is, and again you have a few i-surges ophthalmologists on the system, but we never took the bait to go to another vertical. I did explore veterinary medicine for a while, but never went.
David Kruse: Never went, all right. And how does 140 employees, what – do you have like developers, sales people or what the – how do you kind of break it down?
Scott Jens: Its fundamentally developers, about a little over a third of our spend is developers. We are in excess of 3000 developers I think. Some of those are across a number of different skills capability, some front end, some back end, some data conversion. Then we also have a pretty big chunk, about a fifth of our spend is on sales and marketing and we have a pretty robust customer support team. We followed a jet blue philosophy. All of our customer support specialist work from home. They do their support over VoIP, phone, internet, Skype, etcetera using salesforce.com as our CRM and all of them have to have worked in eye care practices in order to be on the customer support team, so they can really and quickly identify with the people that call him and that’s been very scalable, because we can – we have a national search. Actually everybody in the company works from home. We’re a completely virtual company, but I think from a support side it’s a little crazy, because they never really talked to one other. But they do every day through different source of technology to keep in touch.
David Kruse: Yes, interesting. Have you ever thought about international expansion? Do you think there is any possibility of like expansion?
Scott Jens: There is and we made a run at one international play and particularly in Europe this past year and didn’t end up making the final cut, but we do have potential opportunities we’re exploring. We have expanded into Canada, which is technically international and that’s been fairly straightforward, although there are some governmental provincial billing expectations. We had to build into the software and slowly and surely knocking those off in order to make our Canada approach.
David Kruse: And when there are – you went to Europe were you trying to partner with distributors with that or…
Scott Jens: No, no we weren’t going to go at it ourselves. It was – eye care in the rest of the world is much more likely to be developed – to be delivered through what we might consider here in the US to be chains. In the United States things like LensCrafters which is owned by Luxottica, which also owns frames like Oakley and Rayban, you think of them as places where you get eye exams in the mall, which you have your alternative choice of getting eye exams from a private eye doctor or a large clinic right. In Europe for example its very common to go into a shop on the street corner and that the doctors in that shop and that shop is much more of a retail chain. So we’ve looked at partnering with a number of them as their institutional software company. But there are some pretty formidable competitors to what we do in Europe and so generally when they look at us they like us, but they kind of pick their brethren in that context.
David Kruse: Got you, that makes sense, and what about investment. You told us how you definitely bootstrapped it, but what type of investment are you taking on?
Scott Jens: Thanks for recognizing it was us. First, when I agreed to do this with you, one of the things I hoped to accomplish is even if one or two people that are budding entrepreneurs listening to trust their instincts, to bootstrap it and put in their own investment as much as possible. I think too often entrepreneurs are looking for somebody else is money to burn on their good idea and I think it really does matter to prospective investors that you’ve put your money where your mouth is. So we did do that. Like I said Jim was putting his career on hold and doing this and my wife and I put in everything we could. We did a pretty traditional friends and family fun raise early in the game. People including my mom and Jim’s father-in-law and people like that and then we did find a few people, a neighbor of mine who is a surgeon, who just seemed to really believe in the idea and a few others and that was our first round and then …
David Kruse: How much was that worth?
Scott Jens: Yes, we raised about $250,000 that way. So it was a pretty significant amount of money. Of course to find people who are credited investors was a whole another story, because you want to be smart about who can bring in and we do have to meet some SEC guidelines when we do that. So we were able to do that and including an optometrist who had been – in fact the first person who had prescribed me a pair of glasses, who had become a friend once I got into my professional career. So a lot of very trusting people who felt like they believed in passing our vision. And then after that we were doing Angle Fund Play here in Wisconsin, in North Illinois and to be perfectly honest, we had a lot of interest, but nobody would do anything other than give us a solid pat on the back.
David Kruse: And how much revenue did you have at that time? When you like…
Scott Jens: I mean you $250,000 perhaps.
David Kruse: That’s more than a lot of folks, but yes.
Scott Jens: Yes, it was pretty nominal I think in the eyes. It’s always like when you are raising money you get the early investors that will trust the idea. Then you want somebody to see revenue, and then that revenue never seemed to be enough. So we were every passing [inaudible] and so we were given some pretty nice invitations to a number of Angle Funds. Like I said we covered the gamut cross Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, but the pats on the back were about it. Then the economy collapsed and so raising money in late ’08, early ’09, we were struggling. We were fortunate that here in Madison, Wisconsin, we do have a Community and County based economic development group, Madison Development Corp. and they were willing to back us and so we needed to find one more substantive investor. Through a series of network dinners and coffee meetings that I had, I was introduced to a very wonderful investor in Wisconsin who many Wisconsin starts-ups know, his name is George Mosher and George made an introduction for me that helped. George ended up investing and his investment helped bring MDCs venture debt investment in. So were just firing on all the necessary cylinders. We certainly weren’t hitting any significant home runs, but those trusted investments were a key to us and then George made some introductions to some other folks. In Madison I received a couple of investments that were from significantly – significant business people who ended up being on our Board and I don’t mind mentioning their names. There is Sean Cleary, who’s company Cleary Building Corp. It’s nothing to do with software. A friend who ended up serving on our Board and Mike Swanson who had a history in software businesses and both of them also helped us with some other individuals. We ended up only raising money from individuals and the total aggregate of those individuals ended up being a little short of $1.5 million on top of the money Jim and I put in. So we did really raise a lot of money over time.
David Kruse: And what year was that?
Scott Jens: Those were closed in 2010 and 2011.
David Kruse: Okay, right. Have you raised any yet since then?
Scott Jens: No, no, we stopped in 2011 and then in 2014 I realized – I mean we were doing great. Our investors were happy, our Board was happy. We were going – some years we had doubled, we were doing a 100% growth and you know we were doing 70%, still maintaining 50% year-over-year and you had asked about numbers. I mean by end of 2014 we were slating to do about $8 million in revenue, which was another 70% over the year before.
David Kruse: That’s crazy.
Scott Jens: Our burn was pretty significant, but what we had in the bank leftover from 2011 was starting to be exceeded by the monthly burn. So I did some reviews of potential investment bankers to represent me on a fund raising mission either to find some venture capital money or maybe even find a strategic or financial support over the business. And by the late part of 2014 that retained investment banker found me a group of private investors from the West Coast who were interested in putting a significant financial investment into the company to keep the culture, to keep the people, to expand our footprint in the eye care space and so we did that investment in October of 2014 and its just, its changed the company significantly. So we are very excited about what we’ve been doing over the last 18 months.
David Kruse: And you don’t have to answer this, but with the Founders and the current investors did they take some money of the table.
Scott Jens: Most of them took all their money off the table and most of them received something like a six to seven x-return on it.
David Kruse: Six to seven x in like three or four years.
Scott Jens: Yes, yes.
David Kruse: No bad. Interesting, all right. And where you want to take Revolution over the next five years and well before that, actually I was curious, when did you actually start – go to full time on Revolution.
Scott Jens: Late in 2012 my mom passed away and that was a really big change for me in my life. Like I said, original investor and was a guidance sort of light to what I was trying to do, a beacon for me. I said you know time to simplify, that was her advice, simplify your life. So I followed that instruction and asked my partners at the clinic to let me go down to a day a week. So I was still pretty significant owner in the practice, because my senior partner was just retiring and we had the younger doctors that were partners and they granted that, and I will always be indeed to them for allowing me to go fundamentally full time. I was working in the clinic a day a week, but I was working on their eye care business or the software business more than 40 hours a week and so I was full time in my opinion early 2013, but I – if you want to measure it by Monday through Friday work week, I started that actually for the first time ever this January. So I’ve been CEO of the company while I was having a foot in clinical care. I always felt like it gave me a good sense of how it was to really use our product in practice, and how to impact and practice and its taking care of patients by being in the practice. But I was defiantly not the kind of the participant in the clinic that my partners wanted and I probably that day a week was wanted more by my software team than I realized. And so this has been really a big change, but a good one and nice next step in my life.
David Kruse: And for entrepreneurs out there, how much revenue you’d be having when you went down just one day a week. I think it’s a good start that you know you hung on to your other job for a long time which is interesting.
Scott Jens: The business was still under $5 million of annual revenue when I did that.
David Kruse: It was still…
Scott Jens: But I mean you know it was sizable. The headcount though was you know or the spend was really easy to spend on the employees. It was hard. From 2011 to 2013 we were still generally under paying the executive leadership, because under market – because we wanted to build a robust team of people, it was always about the team first. The customers are certainly important, but we felt if we treated our team well, that was important and of course the first employee was the Director of Sales and Marketing and the Director of Customer Support that I’d hired in 2007 were still and are still with us now, both in the VP leaders of their business divisions. So it was really nice. I mean so today we’ve got almost 5,000 eye doctors in the US and Canada using the system and represents 1000s of accounts. On any given day they are in excess of 22,000 users of the software system logging in on a daily basis, pounding away at managing their patient care through the software and we have a big vision to try to provide those who use the software more services. So some of those are technology modules that they can add on for an additional fee. Early on we never offered additional modules. It was just one pay, get it, but now we have other things they can add on. We also have started to provide human based business process outsource service. It’s very common for medical software companies that do EHR to add on things like revenue cycle management for the clinics that use their software. Examples of companies that have done like we are doing include Athena Health and others who are serving a different part of the medical community, physicians in particular. For the optometrists who use our software, they are usually a three to five employee per doctor outfit. They don’t have a lot of the human resources and so they would like to refocus their resources on their patients. Why have somebody in the back office waiting on the hall with Medicare and the process of clam. So we provide that for them and that has occupied – I don’t know, we’ve got something like 55 of our employees today just doing that back office outsource service. What’s nice about it is the average revenue per customer can be you know two, three, four times more when they are using our BPO service than just the software subscription. It’s not as sticky and it’s not as likely to be considered as valuable of revenue. But it’s still added revenue. Its share of wallet that they are probably spending on an in-house employer and outsourced service otherwise, so why not spend it through us and that business service construct is called the Rev360. It’s our business service idea that we’ve just been developing and launching, where we tell our customers we have a 360 degree view of your practice. We sit with that data that you are storing. If you want us to leverage it to help you run your business more optimally, we are happy to do that and we get pretty good penetration of those add on modules and services from our existing customers.
David Kruse: What’s an example of module that you can add on?
Scott Jens: We had to go through the government certifying electronic health records for compliance with federal standards. We had to invoke a software technology that communicates from an EHR to another HER, so doctors can talk across different EHR platforms and this technology infrastructures is called Direct with a capital D, and we are not natively knowledgably with what direct communication is. It’s sort of like – think of it as secured Gmail from one EHR to another and so we licensed an infrastructure from a company that does direct and then relabeled it RevDirect for our Revolution EHR users. So RevDirect is a module, when you add it on to Revelation EHR you pay 5% add on to your monthly access fee and you get all the licenses for all of your staff and for your clinic to have a direct address to send messages to other physicians that are on different EHR technologies. And for our doctors to participate Government Reimbursement Programs, they effectively have to have this add on module. And so it’s been a nice way to sort of get a price increase out of the customer, but to do it in a way where they have to have the technology and it’s something that they find the value. So the cost to benefit ratio for them is easy to calculate and they add it on.
David Kruse: Interesting, okay. We are coming to the end here of the interview, unfortunately. Is there – I’ll put you on the spot is there any good. I mean you brought up some good lessons but you know there are lessons that if you do it again, what would you do differently. Anything for other entrepreneurs out there that you would advice?
Scott Jens: Yes. Probably the biggest learning I took from the whole thing that I would do differently was, early on we were smart and not assigning any of the funds we were hoping to raise to the two founders Jim and me. We are going to do it all to customer support and to sales processes and marketing, because it is a software business and those are the places where you think you need to spend your money. But the one thing that I was not getting the right amount of traction on was to perspective investors I wasn’t focusing money on somebody who is really a software knowledge leader for the company. Somebody who had been in software before. My developer partner was a software guy, but he wasn’t a leader of a software company in his past and I certainly as an eye doctor wasn’t a software company leader. So it took some sage advice from somebody who said to me, listen I think your user funds plan needs to include what prospective investors need to see, which is a good steward in the software business and that ended up causing us to change our business plan and our user funds plan to include a Chief Operating Officer who would really be recruited from and would really understand running a software business. Once I put that person in place, prospectively in terms of definition and title, then investors saw it as a more ligament software company than just a great idea. So what’s the takeaway? The takeaway is, when you have a great idea, as much as you want to lead it, you have to be willing to let somebody else come in and run it with you that has domain expertise if you think you are going to obtain the kind of funding that’s necessary to go forward. It’s not enough to just have a good idea and say I know the domain in eye care. Somebody needed to know the domain in software. Once we did that we really found the interest in investment much higher and we ended up landing that investment from the necessary individuals that helped fund the business and again, we got the right person early on and that person hired in 2008 is still with us today as the Chief Operating Officer.
David Kruse: And two more questions, one is around mentor, which might get people bored, but how heavily do you lean on mentors throughout the process, and how often do you talk to them and…
Scott Jens: Yes I leaned on mentors a lot. I leaned on mentors that were eye doctors who needed us to stay true to certain things that needed to be delivered in the software. I also did, like I said a lot of dinners and coffee meeting with anybody who would meet with me and there are some people that don’t even know they were mentors, but over time I was studying from them, learning from them and taking advice.
David Kruse: Your sales force.
Scott Jens: Yes, and these were real ligament Madison, Wisconsin people who had been successful in businesses that weren’t software businesses. They were just people who had seen through great ideas to success and so I really leaned on those people a lot and even today I still talk. People like to talk to me because they see what we’ve done as successful and I’m grateful for that, but I’m always willing to talk to people who are starting businesses. Hardly they are still mentors to me, right. I mean somebody who is starting a new business that has a great idea that might be 10 or 20 years younger than me, I still find is there is somebody that I can learn something from, because I’m still a budding entrepreneur. We are still building new businesses, business lines, business services and I’m fascinated by how they go at, what they go at. So I think the most important thing I’ve learnt is never put – never keep my guard up, I put my guard down and I’m willing to be forthright and I’m willing to be transparent, because I think if you give you are going to get.
David Kruse: That’s good, all right. Last question this is more for the Madison folks, if you are visiting Madison I’d like to ask, what’s one of your favorite restaurants in Madison?
Scott Jens: That’s a great question.
David Kruse: And you can say one or more.
Scott Jens: Yes, I mean. So a little secret, when I went to the University of Wisconsin I worked at a dark hole in the wall on State Street, called the Brat House. Today it doesn’t look anything like it did in the 70% and 80%. It’s called State Street Brats, but that’s probably an affectionate favorite because of the time I spent working behind at that time, a charcoal grill, cooking on dame days and enjoying all the co-workers that I had. So that would be one and the other probably mentioned often, but I like the old fashioned On The Square. It’s kind of an interesting place and very busy.
David Kruse: Awesome, all right. Well I think that does it for the interview and Scott, I definitely appreciate it. That was – I like your energy and it was great hearing your story. It’s quite impressively built here in Madison and I don’t think most people know your story. So hopefully after this more people know this story, because it’s interesting and Scott you are definitely a good resource for Madison Wisconsin and so, yes, thanks for coming on.
Scott Jens: Thanks.
David Kruse: And thanks everyone for listing to another episode of Flyover Labs and we’ll see you next time. Thanks.