Brett Byman, CEO, and Katie Hottovy, CMO, are part of a locally-connected group of entrepreneurs that harnessed their talents to compete (and win) a healthcare themed startup competition in January of 2013. Winning the Healthcare Connect contest was just the beginning. This aggressive and talented group has taken Nobl from idea to market ready in less than one year. Read on to learn more about Nobl’s fast formation and what’s next.
The Big Plate: What’s on your plate?
Brett Byman : Oh goodness, where to begin! 2014 has brought some exciting changes for our company and team. We recently launched Nobl as our new name and brand, moved into dedicated office space in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District, hired additional talent to expand visibility on the east coast, filed a patent application for our proprietary software, and announced our involvement in Pipeline, an exclusive community of entrepreneurial leaders building high growth companies in the Midwest.
TBP: Give us a brief overview of Nobl
Brett Byman: Our team at Nobl has spent the last year developing and testing a software solution to improve patient satisfaction in hospitals, identifying “hourly nurse rounding” and the vehicle in which to do so. This process of hourly rounding has been proven to increase patient satisfaction, decrease falls, and decrease call lights in hospitals. What we found is that this seemingly trivial task can be redesigned and reengineered, amplifying the benefits in the process. We’ve leveraged technology to do just that.
TBP: What is the backstory on how your startup came to be?
Brett Byman: Our team came together in the fall of 2012, when Bryan Health and the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development sponsored a competition for local entrepreneurs. The Healthcare Connect Competition provided the winners with an opportunity to test and validate their solution in a live hospital setting. Our team incorporated 15 days after winning the competition and hasn’t looked back.
We have since worked with Bryan Health executives, leadership, and staff to test and validate our solution. Those relationships have been crucial in providing clarity and uncoupled insight into how to improve our product. We understand how frustrating it is for nurses to be forced to use software that was built by people who have never stepped foot in a hospital before. We made it a point to not only listen to their suggestions, but actively build the solution around their feedback.
Katie Hottovy: Back in the fall of 2012 The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce along with The Partnership for Economic Development created the first Healthcare Connect Competition in Lincoln. The competition was held in January 2013 with Bryan Health being the client of the competition. All the cofounders had met one way or another through working together at Nutech Ventures and through Nutech Ventures Startup Bootcamp. Cofounder and CIO Ben Leduc found out about the competition and contacted the rest of the cofounders to enter the competition. We met at local coffee shops for months before the competition, strategizing and developing the premise of our software. We ended up developing not only a working prototype for the competition but a fully designed one at that. Having both of those elements made us stand out from the competition.
We ended up winning the Healthcare Connect Competition and received a 120 day pilot at Bryan Health. We took full advantage of having our software in the hands of hundreds of users. The nurses, staff, and administration provided clarity and uncoupled insight into how to improve our product. By taking a nimble but lean approach to our software development in those 120 days we were able to add some of the best features to our product today. I guess I can say the rest is history.
TBP: You are a graduate of the NMotion program. What types of startups should consider applying to an accelerator?
Brett Byman: Any new or aspiring entrepreneur would be crazy not to first look at accelerators in their area. The mentorships, support, and connections are 150% worth the time invested. As young entrepreneurs, our ego sometimes wants to tell us that we have all of the answers. Please don’t make the mistake of believing this! From the inception of our company, my goal as an entrepreneur has been to learn as much as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time feasible. Accelerators are designed to do just that, and our company wouldn’t be where we are today had it not been for NMotion.
TBP: What part of launching your startup took longer than you thought (or cost more)?
Katie Hottovy: We knew early on that we wanted to change our company name since it no longer represented who we were and what we stood for. The idea of a name change happened the same time we were kneedeep in developing our software and undergoing a pilot.
As a team we decided to focus our efforts collectively on the product and worry about the company name later. Once the original software pilot ended we were able to focus on the launch of the national brand Nobl.
As we are finding out, everything in healthcare seems to take longer than expected. Development, quantifying results, sales, and everything inbetween takes considerable time. This is true not only in healthcare, but for enterprise solutions in general. Trying to emerge as a relevant player in this industry simply wouldn’t have been possible without the connections, opportunities, and support that resulted from the Healthcare Connect Competition.
TBP: How do you strike a balance between making your product “perfect” and getting a product out to the customer on time?
Katie Hottovy: The longer you develop something the less likely it is to launch. From day one we implemented a lean approach to designing and developing our software. We start with the development of an MVP (minimum viable product) and then release subsequent updates and improvements as we receive feedback. A product can never be perfect because perfectionism is subjective. However,
we strive for excellence, and with that in mind we constantly look at what what we can do to improve our solution.
TBP: Best startup advice you have received (or learned)
Katie Hottovy: One of the best things I recently watched came from the 99U conference. Sebastian Thrun, creator of Google’s self driving car and Google Glass, spoke about ‘The Universal Law of Innovation, Build it, Break it, Improve it’. I think the title of this talk says it all but check it out for yourself: http://goo.gl/1RBmaI
Brett Byman: Never give up and never slow down. Perseverance is one of the most important factors in the success of any venture. As an entrepreneur, assuming anything will be easy or handed to you is the greatest mistake you can make. Every day you need to push yourself to work harder and longer than the next guy, because that’s what separates the majority from the “lucky”.