americanpod

Ep 5: Allison Wood – CEO of LCMS+

In this episode, I interview Allison Wood, the CEO of LCMS Plus, an enterprise software solution that helps medical schools streamline accreditation reporting and gain greater insight into medical programs.  Spun-out from Duke, LCMS Plus is software that tracks everything surrounding the education components of medical school, which includes keeping track of student schedules, grades and evaluations of instructors just to name a few.  In this episode, Allison discusses how the company was spun out from Duke and how she manages life with a business partner who is the CTO and also her husband. We also discuss how she has come to see the value her software provides.

In this episode we explore: 

  • How the mission of her company actually impacts all of us [20:27]
  • The story of being the first software spinout form Duke School of Medicine [21:34]
  • The challenges of pricing the product and recognizing its true value including a trick she used to discover the appropriate price for her product [26:28]
  • “The partnership we offer is just as valuable as the software itself.” [26:40]
  • The pain of managing long sales cycles and cash flow challenges as a young B2B company in education market [28:14]
  • What her advice is for startups being spun-out of universities [31:53]
  • “I really believe we attract the kind of energy we put out.”
  • How Allison incorporates “culture checks” in the hiring process [52:41]
  • How Allison tries to enhance communication while working with a distributed team [54:13]
  • “Ritual is what bakes values into habits.” [57:06]
  • The pros – and cons – of being married to your co-founder [57:57]
  • How Allison’s teenager helped her create boundaries between work life and home life [1:04:34]

LCMS Plus Website

Ep 4: David Hadden – Co-CEO of Pro-ficiency

David Hadden is the co-CEO of Pro-ficiency, a maker of simulation learning technology for the healthcare industry. Using Pro-ficiency’s technology, doctors, patients and clinical trial investigators can face real life scenarios and make decisions in a consequence free environment to improve their performance and create better outcomes.  In this episode, David talks about how he came up with the idea for the company after helping train doctors in Africa, what it was like to exit his first company, Therasim, and how simulation is a superior learning construct for those in jobs where people face life or death decisions.

In this episode we explore:

  • David describes the Pro-ficiency products [2:52]
  • Where simulation training is used and why [8:48]
  • David describes how he realized how he could apply the power of simulation to improve patient outcomes while working on an AI product to train doctors to combine medicines together to combat AIDs in Africa.[11:35]
  • David describes exiting his first company Therasim, a venture backed company, which also did virtual patient simulation [23:47]
  • David talks about how he is self-funding this company today [32:19]
  • David talks about how and why one would choose venture capital over self funding [33:16]
  • “The only thing I haven’t done to fund a company so far is rob a bank.” [33:29]
  • David paints what success looks like in 5 years [55:36]
  • “If the founder is doing stuff that isn’t sales, find a way to not do that stuff.” [56:37]

Pro-ficiency’s Website

Ep 3: Clarence Bethea – Founder of Upsie

Founded in 2015 by Clarence Bethea, Upsie is an insurance technology company changing the way device warranties are purchased, managed and serviced. In this episode, Clarence tells the story of how he learned about his opportunity in the marketplace, how he got the first version of his product made and what it was like to raise money via TechStars. Clarence also explains the thing that keeps him motivated and excited everyday.

Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy my interview with Clarence.

In this episode we explore:

  • The percentage of people who purchase a warranty from Upsie before they purchase the device [03:58]
  • When people purchase warranties (before or after purchase) [4:43]
  • How people sign up for Upsie [05:46]
  • How Upsie gives transparency into what is inside the warranty [06:31]
  • Who supplies the warranties for Upsie [07:20]
  • Upsie’s relationship with the big box retailers [08:26]
  • “If you don’t want Upsie around, do what is right for the customer.” [09:14]
  • How Clarence once ran to a Sprint store to buy a $900 phone for a customer to solve an issue
  • Upsie’s competitors [10:08] “We are the biggest threat (the warranty industry) has had since Square Trade in early 2000s.” [11:23]
  • Importance of the human element in building Upsie
  • How Clarence builds the Brand Identity
  • How the team is constructed [15:05]
  • How Clarence came up with the business idea [17:00]
  • His mentorship with the former Best Buy CEO [17:27]
  • How Clarence started the company with the help of a branding and design agency in exchange for equity [21:19]
  • How Upsie gain their first customers [23:43]
  • Early mistakes [25:23]
  • Sales funnel [32:50]
  • Techstars [36:51]
  • The equity raise that was done after TechStars [40:09]
  • The key metrics Clarence is watching [44: 51]
  • “We are a warranty company, but we are basically a data company.” Upsie has some information that every phone company could use [47:00]
  • What scares Clarence [50:06]
  • The call from the customer that made him cry [55:14]

Upsie’s  Website 

Ep 2: Nathan Clendenin – CEO of StoryDriven

Nathan Clendenin is the Founder of StoryDriven, an 8-time Emmy Award winning video marketing firm that specializes in telling human centric stories. In this episode, Nathan tells how he develops stories for his customers, what a “brand journalist” is, how StoryDriven comes up with their core values and what it was like to get an Emmy. We also talk about what kind of stories he wants to tell.

Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy my interview with Nathan.

In this episode we explore:

  • Nathan describes StoryDriven’s videos and what makes them different [1:10]
  • How the Emmy-Award winning video of “Stop the Stigma” was created [1:49]
  • How to tease out stories from customers [4:16]
  • How StoryDriven used “The Odyssey” to explain the mission of a speciality hospital for the treatment of eating disorders [6:44]
  • Asking binary questions to create tension in videos [7:49]
  • StoryDriven’s company ownership [13:49]
  • What a “brand journalist” is [14:27]
  • How Nathan figured out how to price his services [18:04]
  • His first customer [20:53]
  • Newborn twins photoshoot [22:43]
  • When Nathan hired his first employees [27:24]
  • StoryDriven’s initial sales strategy [29:19]
  • Working through cash-flow issues [31:40]
  • Adding a partner to the company, and losing that same partner [32:53]
  • Getting an Emmy [41:07]
  • Nathan’s year in Africa and how it changed him [46:34]
  • “I want to tell stories at StoryDriven that give people hope.” [49:47]
  • The unexpected challenges and thrills of building StoryDriven [52:38]
  • How making the company has changed him [58:40]
  • How Nathan instills the values of the company into the company on a day-to-day basis [1:01:16]
  • The only way to come up with your company values [1:02:50]
  • What success looks like for Nathan and his company in the coming years [1:05:29]

Story Driven’s Website

One of Story Driven’s Emmy-award winning videos.

Ep 1: Joe Bell – Co-founder and CEO of Cultivate

Joe Bell is the CEO of Cultivate, a social media management platform that helps companies plan, organize, and execute social campaigns that reach more customers. Cultivate was featured in South by Southwest’s 2017 Startup Spotlight and won North Carolina Technology Association’s Top Tech Startup to Watch for 2017.  In this episode, Joe shares his experience evolving his marketing company into a software company.  He talks about bringing on co-founders and raising money from investors. He also gives his advice on how to land those first customers.

In this episode we explore:

  • What the Cultivate product does [2:02]
  • The origin of the Cultivate platform from a consulting agency [05:23]
  • How Cultivate is evolving as a platform focused on musicians into other verticals like the automotive industry
  • What makes for good social media marketing [12:42]
  • How Cultivate is structured as a company and who are the co-founders [15:30]
  • The meme that was seen by 1 out of every 10 Facebook users [16:19]
  • How co-founders divided equity [22:46]
  • Conversion rates [25:23]
  • How Cultivate makes decisions on new features [26:20]
  • What it was like to raise equity funding [31:18]
  • How a proposed dress-code policy lead to Joe Bell starting his first company. [49:19]
  • Cultivate’s technology stack and development [54:15]
  • How Cultivate handles customer support [55:28]
  • Funniest and hardest part of the job [1:00:37]
  • How Cultivate ended up saving thousands of dollars by testing a feature before allocating development resources [1:01:33]

Cultivate’s Website