Entrepreneur Profile: Matthew Browning, Your Nurse Is On.com
We hear it every day in the news – small business drives the growth and job creation in our economy.
Independent’s Entrepreneur Profiles celebrates the people out there changing the world every day. We ask each entrepreneur eight questions to give us a little insight into their vision of the future, and their take on building a company.
This month, we feature Matt Browning, Founder and CEO of YourNurseIsOn.com. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, YNIO helps healthcare organizations get their staff (nurses, doctors, and other staff) assigned to the right work at the right time across geographical locations.
To learn more about Matt and his business, visit YourNurseIsOn.com.
Eight Questions for Matt
1. What does your company do?
YourNurseIsOn.com helps healthcare systems and hospitals put “The Right Provider in the Right Place, Right Now” using two-way phone, text and email communications; in the end, that helps them improve patient outcomes, improve patient safety, and decrease employee injury and turnover rates – all of which improve healthcare profitability.
2. When did you start your company, and why?
“Start” is a subjective term – the idea has been in development for sometime. The actual incorporation was in 2007 and our first product introduction was at the Health 2.0 Conference in the fall of 2009. Our initial users began in the spring and summer of 2010 and we went post-revenue for January, this year, 2011. So I’d say we are just getting started, though we “started” a while ago. See, it’s all relative
3. What are your funding sources?
We’d always heard that “money grows on trees,” but found little out there. Beginning our company when we did, post-Internet bubble and mid-real estate crash, we weren’t surprised that no one was throwing money at our “sock-puppet” of an idea. We did however have a small group of family and friends that believed in our idea, knew of my successful business and healthcare history, and were still solvent in this difficult period. Boot-strapping was, and is, the name of the game – it has been instrumental in our nimbleness, creativity and cohesion as a team. We have met many milestones – Proof of concept, alpha product, beta testing, customer implementation, customer retention and, of course, revenue – while maintaining a very small burn-rate. This has positioned us strongly for our next capital round with a proven product, team and model. This, in turn, allows us to focus on scaling, customer service and product refinement with the funds we raise.
4. What have the top 3 challenges been in your start-up process?
1) Funding: Cash helps – too much cash can hurt an early company, but too little cash slows speed to market and makes simple management decisions more difficult.
2) Novelty: Being the first with an idea requires LOTS of additional sales work – both for investors and companies. Oddly, your competitors can be quickly sold on your idea and begin to morph their offerings accordingly.
3) Team: Small budget equals small team, even more difficult is that it is a small team of “BIG” players – I mean, EVERY single team member “wears too many hats” and “juggles way too many balls” and is INVALUABLE to the operation but every single team member, including the founder, is human. And humans can tire, make mistakes, forget, have personal, family and/or medical issues or simply become overwhelmed. At that moment, that very second, we MUST remember we are a TEAM with the same goals and we will ALL cross the finish line together, or “go down with the boat”- and pick up the slack, cover their butt and go the extra mile. That is what makes us a team, no matter the level of funding, and strong teams win.
5. Define ‘entrepreneur.’
An entrepreneur is just like every other human being in the world that has an idea that could, POSSIBLY, make the world a “better” place – except for one thing! They are often unable to release the idea, like many people who forget great ideas forever, and become entranced by “the vision.” The vision is a peculiar embodiment of an idea into a “parallel reality,” if you will, which enables the entrepreneur to tangibly experience a “present instance” of a technology or product that does not currently exist. In my case, I experienced an intuitive understanding that YourNurseIsOn.com was not just “another idea,” but could fully experience what healthcare communications would be like IF we actually could overcome the technical challenges and produce a platform that functioned as we envisioned. That experiential reality made ME a believer that we had a paradigm-changing, disruptive technology that MUST be brought to market. I’ve often joked that the idea finds the entrepreneur when they are prepared by their life experiences and open to change, then it transforms that simple human being into an agent of its manifestation capable of near super-human feats of endurance, marathon travel, whirlwind meetings, midnight oil, blood, sweat and tears. I thank my wonderful wife, Phoebe and my amazing son AJ, everyday, for their sacrifices and support of my mission, my calling, my belief in YourNurseIsOn.com and personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way
6. Read any good books lately?
YES! Gardening, urban farming, reforestation and permaculture are some of my major interests and I just read, re-read actually, Elliot Coleman’s “Four Season Gardening” about year round, sustainable food production in the Northeastern United States. Another example of how primitive technologies like cold frames, hot beds, hoop houses and others can be used for the modern benefits of food self-reliance, unmatchable nutritional quality and local production. New ways of organizing the world to meet all of our needs, using existing resources efficiently and sustainably can improve the quality of life for us all, it seems, and not just in healthcare communications
Vision, CUSTOMER INPUT, team, CUSTOMER INPUT, design, CUSTOMER INPUT, build, CUSTOMER INPUT, implement with THAT customer.
Obviously, building a NEEDED product with customer input to solve a real and expensive problem is a great formula. I am not a fan of building a widget to see IF we can find a market, though that can be successful for some. I am a fan of radical, transformational, paradigm-busting, disruptive technologies and products like YourNurseIsOn.com and the iPod or iPad, however MANY successful businesses are built on incremental innovation and modest change or even maintaining the status quo. Build it fast, build it cheap, build it rough and FAIL FAST. When it is ugly and barely works, get input, suggestions, advice and THEN refine it. Go virtual and mobile, use open source tools and communities, network, inform and market through social media for pennies- spend little on “stuff” on everything on “it” whatever your “it” is. Oh, yeah and buy smaller amounts of printed collateral, NO MATTER WHAT THE DISCOUNT! And if you’d like an older design YNIO folder, or outdated business card, just let me know
8. What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
“Go out and buy yourself a five-cent pencil and a ten-cent notebook and begin to write down some million-dollar ideas for yourself.”
If you are an entrepreneur in the Northeast and are interested in being profiled, we invite you to contact us.