Saturday, December 02, 2006

Then and Now

A few days ago I posted about my experience with medical billing and said that..

Somewhere in between the internet's model and the current state-of-the-art in health information management systems, there's probably an opportunity for Google or some future company like Google.

I wasn't alone. And somebody is giving it a try. I received a nice note from Christopher Parks cluing me in to MedBillManager. This is a pre launch of a web site designed to help you track your medical bills on line. I thought it was crazy at first, but I had a chance to use the system a little last night and I think they have done an excellent job at making a complex problem simple effective and easy to use.

Looking at their about us page, I noticed that they're using Ruby on Rails for the site development. Using the system you can tell this is a classic "web 2.0" application. Lots of AJAX, clean, simple, effective. In a lot of ways it's a stark contrast to the start up of yesteryear.

Let's compare and contrast, shall we?

Funding$10,000,000 Series A Round
From Ventures R Us
Personal funds or Angel Investors
StaffingTwo or three hundred close friends
Including a "Chief Segway Officer"
Four guys who care about what they're doing
InfrastructureA building in San Jose
Server Room full of Sun Gear
The Internet
Maybe a collocated server
Some MacBooks
Application ArchitectureJ2EE (and a $1,000,000 app server)Ruby on Rails for free
Marketing$7,000,000 Superbowl adsThe blog sphere

The problem with the 1999 column is that it's full of things that distracted us from really doing what mattered most--building things that had value. It was the antithesis of "lean." We spent a lot of time and energy on things that didn't matter. Out of that $10,000,000 funding round, a lot of start ups had to spend way too much of their time working on all the overhead that didn't matter in the end. They also signed themselves up for an "exit" that might not have been reasonable. They had to show how they were going to make money right out of the gate, rather than building something that had value to their users, and let the money come where it may.

These MedBillManager type start ups are single mindedly focused on providing the greatest value, and nothing else. Build it and they will come isn't crazy, it's the right thing to do.


Blogger CAP said...

Steve - Thank you so much for your completely unexpected, yet greatly appreciated post!

- christopher

6:12 PM  

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