A Rising Startup: Five Things One Startup Did to Navigate the Normal Pitfalls
Opargo, LLC is a tech company based in Irving, Texas, whose origins went from a “problem-solution” conversation among its eventual co-founders to a company poised to deliver a major impact to the healthcare industry – in less than three years!
In a nutshell, Opargo looked at how healthcare providers booked their patients and compared it to the growth the airline industry experienced when they began to use yield management strategies to book flights.
Healthcare providers are similar to airlines from a yield standpoint: both have limited time slots in a day, pay differing rates for differing services, lose money from unused slots, and are constantly experiencing rising business costs. Opargo uses predictive analytics, yield management, and patent-pending algorithms to maximize the output of a doctor’s office. Currently, Opargo has clients who are experiencing over 20% yearly revenue increases without having had to make significant changes within their practice.
But this story is not about Opargo, it is about maneuvers they’ve made to evade the pitfalls that derail the majority of startup businesses. Startup capital, working capital, and burn rates are a given. We all know that most startups fail because they run out of cash. Assuming your money has been managed well, here are five concepts you can learn from Opargo’s success:
#1. It’s all about speed
Delays happen. Customers have conflicts. Onboarding takes time. Yes – there are a great deal of variables outside the control of a startup. So focus on what you do control and streamline it, make it simple, and get it out there. You always have to figure in delays on the client side, but once you start accepting your own – cash begins to burn.
Using speed to their advantage, Opargo has cut the time it takes to extract, transfer, and load provider data from several days to one hour. By doing so, they can be versatile and ready for onboarding literally “within the hour.”
#2. Surround yourself with experts
Many startups are worried about money, so they think “low cost” when adding employees. Experts deliver speed. Speed gets you to TTM faster. TTM is usually defined as “time to market.” Opargo calls it “time to money”!
Hire experts where you can. Place experts on your advisory board or board of directors. Seek experts in academia who are looking for real-world models. On the job training has its place, but rarely within a startup.
#3 Focus on onboarding and adoption
Product delivery, onboarding, and adoption are such critical phases for startups. Clients have chosen to trust their business with your new product. These clients are your proof of concept, and they will provide the first testimonials. It’s vital that they not only have a great experience onboarding your product, but they also adopt and continue to use it after you’re gone. Make this process fun. Use gamification if you can. Leave them happy, confident, and excited.
For status updates, overall communication, and accountability, Opargo sends out a regular report card showing adoption rates to the office staff and office manager.
#4 Empower and communicate to increase speed
Startups must be swift and nimble. Don’t get caught up too early in corporate structure. Hire smart and capable people and empower them to make decisions. Hierarchy hang-ups, death by meetings, multistep approvals, etc. – these are all bottlenecks.
Opargo uses an open office to speed up internal communications and reduce the need for meetings. Remember: great leaders spend their time removing roadblocks, not placing them.
#5 Create processes from the beginning. Be repeatable, reproducible, and scalable
There’s a pitfall that every startup encounters where they transition through ideation and creation to implementation. The first time it’s all new. It’s usually all hands on deck and it’s an exciting time to launch your first product or service. But then you look up and you’ve got another client and you have to do it all again. It’s vital that you capture and create processes early and update them often. Yes, they take time to produce, especially if you create documentation and flow charts – but they can save you so much time and money in the future.
Opargo brought in an outside consulting firm to help them capture their current processes and build a four-stage solution from customer acquisition to customer maintenance. This became the foundation for their CRM and training documents for new hires.
It’s important that you are always mindful of the future. Try this mantra: be repeatable, reproducible, and scalable.
It’s an exciting time to launch a startup. The cost of capital is low. The global economy is more accessible than ever. Social and digital media are maturing and can be highly effective means to market, target, and reach clients.
Godspeed to all current and aspiring entrepreneurs, for you are the ones who hire and inspire.
Principal – ThinkWell Consulting LLC.
Posted in: Start-up