We’re super thrilled and delighted to be chatting with Mike Wessinger – founder and CEO of PointClickCare. Mike founded the first cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) platform for the long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) industry by leveraging a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, the industry’s standard software delivery model today. Since founding the company in 2000, Mike has grown PointClickCare to over 1,400 employees. His forward-thinking vision to design the industry’s first EHR solution has led PointClickCare to become one of Canada’s largest private software companies, and leading innovator in the effort to solve the global challenges of senior health care.
Thanks so much for taking the time for being with us. Can you talk about the early days of PointClickCare. How did you come up with the business idea?
Nobody wakes up saying, ‘I’m going to be in the nursing home technology business when I grow up’, but for my brother Dave and I, that’s really where we started. We began PointClickCare in the late 1990s by reselling technology to nursing homes. Our mother worked for a skilled nursing provider, so we grew up around the long-term and post-acute care industry. It was really through her guidance and insight that we learned about the gaps and inefficiencies that not only impacted the business of senior care, but also the delivery of care and services to seniors.
We quickly found that technology wasn’t evolving in the senior care market, specifically because it’s such a highly regulated industry, so there was no technology sophistication and the budgets were almost zero. We chose a really difficult market to tackle, but at the same time, there were no real players working to solve the challenges of the industry, so this allowed us to really carve out a niche for ourselves.
We introduced the first SaaS delivery model to the senior care industry, but the funny thing is, we had no idea at the time that the model we had developed is what we call cloud computing today. When we came up with the concept for PointClickCare the term ‘cloud’ wasn’t even coined yet, and it was less than obvious that a SaaS delivery model was the way that organizations wanted to purchase software. With Dave’s technology expertise and my business background, we were able to design a platform that met the specific needs of senior care, while also addressing a real need at the same time.
How did you go about validating the business idea, building it and then land those early users/customers?
Technology wasn’t evolving in the senior care market and we saw early on that the industry was getting frustrated with purchasing software and hardware. Introducing a SaaS delivery model allowed us to change the way our customers got paid and really disrupted the market. Of course, when we first introduced this new model we didn’t know if it was right, but we knew what wasn’t working and knew it was time for a change. We saw quickly that a SaaS model worked because there were no major upfront fees required for hardware, and with an industry like senior care that is so strapped for cash, this was a desirable option.
In May of 2000, we landed our first customer and in 2005 we won two major skilled nursing chains in the U.S. market, which brought our platform into over 500 nursing homes, in over 27 States. This was a major milestone for us and really allowed us to grow quickly. Today, PointClickCare serves over 14,000 long-term and post-acute care customers across North America.
You mentioned about building one of the fastest growing software companies in Canada without being a consultant or a coder in one of your articles. What tips do you have for founders with no technical background?
The key is to focus on your role as founder/CEO and not try to fill every gap. I came from a sales background, so spending time in the weeds on code would have been meaningless. My approach to building a software company without the technical chops was to prioritize as I built. I started by focusing attention on building the right culture, which I completely believe is the operating system of any organization. If you’ve got the right culture, you’re going to attract the right people, who will help guide your company and achieve what you want to do. Building that team comes next. This means finding the right people to fill those holes in your skillset, but who also fit into your culture and align with your vision. From here, it’s about setting the vision and strategy with the team you’ve got in place, and finally putting the plan into action. My job as CEO is to make sure that the team stays on track and that I’m holding them accountable. For me, it’s about working ON the business and not IN the business.
We know marketing and product development are such challenges in a startup. What advice do you have for founders?
Stay focused. I often talk about how it’s much more efficient and beneficial to chase markets, not sales opportunities. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of saying ‘yes’ to every sales opportunity that lands in your lap. If an opportunity does not align with your goals or falls outside of your target market, it’s not worth diluting your product, your focus, or your time.
You wrote numerous articles and publication on culture and building a team. Specifically, you mention about putting culture first. Any tips for early-stage startup founders when it comes to building their culture?
I’d suggest a few things. First, make your culture a priority. Money and perks might get people into a company, but culture is what makes your employees loyal to you. When you’re building your culture, think about what’s important to you. What kind of place do you want to walk into every day? In my case, I knew our culture needed to be one of respect and passion for what we do. I wanted to build a company of people who had each other’s backs and who celebrated each other’s diversity.
Secondly, it’s important to be deliberate about building a diverse culture. In the software industry, there is often a serious imbalance when it comes to gender. As the founder of a company, you have the ability to strike that balance. Your customers are diverse, so your workplace should be too.
Finally, don’t tolerate intolerance. In fact, celebrate diversity. Far too many companies turn a blind eye to intolerance, and it’s damaging to cultures and to our industry. Be aware and be vigilant. It will make a world of difference to your company’s culture.
We keep hearing that your team keeps growing. What characteristics do you look for in your new hires?
Our team looks for a combination of skill and will. Clearly, we need talented people from a technical skillset perspective, but we also need those people to be willing to deliver on our company’s goals and believe in our company culture. We look for people who Play to Win, who will Take Care of the Customer, and who understand that Work Shouldn’t (Always) Suck. There is no question that I would walk away from someone who has incredible skills, but who would be toxic to our culture. Our culture has to be preserved for us to continue to succeed.
For more information on PointClickCare visit: https://pointclickcare.com/
For career opportunities with PointClickCare visit: https://pointclickcare.com/healthcare-technology-software-company-careers/