MedAssets + Precyse announced the acquisition of Equation this month. It’s something that our team is incredibly excited about both for our users and the future of our platform. I wanted to take some time and share just a little about the journey.
I joined the team full-time in Q1 of 2014 after a 30-day contract term where I proved my worth prototyping out an initial MVP. This whole process was key because I was the first full-time engineer and during the interview process, I literally said “I’m not your guy.” Granted, this was premature but the feeling was so because of their current technology stack. Prior to this, the team had engaged contract engineers to setup a Sharepoint instance for delivering embedded Excel files as dashboards and so they wanted to continue building against it. I had built data platforms previously at PressTrends and Explorer.io and knew the right way to get a scalable MVP shipped and so my orientation was such. We talked it out, I proved the model during those 30 days, and we moved forward.
The critical aspect to this was the fact that they were willing to start over because they were more invested in the mission rather than the existing assumptions. A lot of people talk about making pivots and I think pivots can take different shapes throughout the product lifecycle, but the underlying characteristic of being willing to challenge your assumptions is critical to success. Whether it’s relative to the technology stack or the product, you have to be sold out to the mission above being right.
Over the three years we moved quickly and continued to challenge our own assumptions which led to many pivots and ultimately product-market fit. We transitioned from a consulting firm to a product company delivering enterprise healthcare business intelligence. Along the way having to overcome various challenges and keep focus intact.
There’s a hundred different lessons learned and experiences that I can speak to that played their own role in getting us to this stage, but here a few I think are really important.
- We started with consulting, used consulting to drive product, and ultimately scaled product. I think a lot of companies undervalue having access to early customers via consulting services. Those that have taken this consulting strategy such as KISSMetrics have been able to build fantastic products by validating their assumptions quickly. The challenge here is to not get caught into a fully fledged consulting model and keep the focus on product.
- We stayed lean throughout the stack. We bootstrapped. We kept the team small and only scaled our architecture where it needed to be. This allowed us to listen, prototype, and double-down where we saw engagement.
- We cared more about delivering real value over creating a brand or hype machine. So many startups are doing the latter. We were able to grab large clients away from larger, more established competitors because we focused on substance and value. It’s not sexy in today’s startup culture to sit in a room and build out models and cut code for hours on end in order to deliver value. Rather, I see a lot of startups focusing on conferences and brand, which are just noise until you have product-market fit. Allow the value you bring to your customers to be your brand.
- We valued production above anything else and because we’re lean, it built a culture of thinking at scale. How can I automate this or do this in half the time, not because I think it would be cool but because I have no other choice. This, in my opinion, turned a disadvantage (bootstrapped, small team, location, etc.) into one of our leading differentiators.
- We built a great team. I love everyone at Equation. It’s a unique group of analytical people driven to change healthcare in a real way. More so than anything above, putting together the right team is it. If you have the right individuals on board you can overcome setbacks, pivots, or whatever the market throws at you. You can just win.
I’m sure I’ll write more thoughts on this journey but for now, this is where I’m at. I’m excited about the future and grateful to have been apart of everything to date. It’s rare.