Accomplishment is my greatest motivator.
Location: Madison, WI
Product / Service Offering: Continuing medical education courses
Founder Interviewed: Daniel G. Guerra, Jr., CEO
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I have a personal goal of not being thought of as a tourist in life. I look at problems in the world as opportunities to use my talent to solve them. I know that along the way I will have successes and failures. As a challenge to me, I want to continue to learn from my failures and learn to be more effective and efficient at problem solving.
Accomplishment is my greatest motivator.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
Prior to starting AltusLearn, I was a software developer with a small lifestyle software development company. Just after the recession of 2008, I decided I wanted to build a SaaS (Software as a Service) product and wanted to get out of the business of selling my time hourly.
I built five packages of software over a three-year time frame. The SaaS software I built included a customer relationship management software (CRM), an e-Commerce Product, mobile transaction software, real estate management software and a learning management software.
I found the most traction with the learning management software and sold it to several publishing companies which in turn sold it to the higher education and continuing medical education market.
When we sold our learning management software to the medical education company, I attended a healthcare industry tradeshow, where our client was exhibiting, to see how our software was used. At the tradeshow I learned about challenges that existed within the medical education industry. I had some suggestions for our client to better serve the healthcare industry’s education needs as it related to their business model. Our client chose not to implement the suggested changes and went out of business 18 months later.
After they went out of business, I chose to enter the continuing medical education field and launched AltusCampus in December 2013, which is now AltusLearn. We are having a great time building our user-base and creating a first of a kind marketplace for continuing medical education.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
AltusLearn’s online platform provides continuing education courses to individual healthcare professionals and healthcare employers. For professionals, AltusLearn enables them to meet and track professional license requirements or simply improve their professional skills. For employers, AltusLearn protects their workforce’s compliance through education and helps improve the overall skills of the team.
There are 16 million healthcare professionals in the United States, all of whom are required to participate in continuing medical education. Healthcare professionals and institutions spend a combined total of $20 billion per year on continuing education, and within three years the market is expected to double.
Continuing education is required for many healthcare professionals, ranging from physicians to custodial staff at healthcare institutions. For a healthcare institution, Medicare/Medicaid (CMS) reimbursement, which accounts for 49% of an institution’s revenue, is contingent upon employee licensure.
The supply side of the market is highly disorganized, and educators currently have no efficient way to widely distribute and monetize their products. AltusLearn provides hosting and distribution for online education.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Our competitor in continuing healthcare education is the conference or live event business. Many healthcare professionals receive their required continuing medical education at national or international conferences which require the expense of travel and time.
As both the technology and demographics of healthcare change, we are seeing a shift from conference or live event education to more online and interactive education that we are able to provide.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The challenge was figuring out the customer base and how to monetize. Ideas are simple; getting prospective customers to take action is the hard part.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful.
We learned a lot by participating in a startup accelerator. The accelerator program we participated in, gener8tor, was ranked number 14th the year we participated. They really helped us refine our business model, focus on tractions, and make introductions to prospective investors.
Startup CEOs need to take advantage of the resources in their local startup community. Most importantly, remember to get and give; it’s a small community.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We have raised over $ 1.0 Million from our investors. The only thing I would do is deploy the first $500,000 differently than we did. We were under a lot of pressure to achieve results; therefore, we hired people to accomplish them. We should have allocated those resources differently. We learned from that experience and lived to fight another day.
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Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
No, again it is about becoming involved in your local startup community. The community will help you to achieve success, but you have to participate and ask.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
The number one challenge of any startup CEO: figure out how to become more efficient on user/customer growth.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
I don’t know if it is really a “hack”, but it is simple. When you need help, you should ask for it. The worst people can say is “no”.
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