SMARTcare Software On Why Healthcare Technology Companies Thrive in Western Wisconsin
20 Mar 2020
SMARTcare Software is at the forefront of the emerging tech ecosystem being built in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and the Momentum West Region. The company has created a full-service software suite of tools that are designed for the growing home healthcare industry. When founders Bill Mattle and Scott Zielski decided to launch the company in 2017, they chose Eau Claire for its proximity to higher education, a dedicated regional workforce, and the belief that tech companies can thrive in smaller beautiful communities, rather than needing to be confined to dense metropolitan areas.
Bill and Scott’s decision to locate in Eau Claire has been financially advantageous. Idea Fund, a venture capital firm in La Crosse, was SMARTcare Software’s first funder, and the fund only invests in Wisconsin companies. SMARTcare is a Wisconsin Qualified New Business Venture, so investors receive a Wisconsin income tax credit equal to 25 percent of the value of the investment made into the certified company - something that has allowed them to attract additional investment.
In Eau Claire, SMARTcare has also benefited from a location in the CoLab. CoLab is a shared workspace that serves startups and entrepreneurs by giving them access to a larger network, diverse perspectives, and the local startup ecosystem. This includes participation in VentureHomes, a network of startup hubs that combines statewide resources with community initiatives to provide local entrepreneurs access to a full menu of startup resources. By locating in the CoLab, SMARTcare not only benefited from access to these resources, but has been able to grow their team without paying significant lease rates or needing to pay capital outlays for things like office furniture.
With funding and a flexible location, Scott Zielski has been able to focus on things like talent recruitment. The company has steadily grown and has hired engineers, customer support and sales people out of their Eau Claire offices. With UW-Eau Claire in town, they have also attracted a wide range of interns looking to gain work experience while adding value to the growing company. “Our team has been key to our success. We have the best employees because they genuinely care about what we do and our customers. This has been a competitive advantage,” said Zielski.
SMARTcare Software has the foundational elements they need to succeed - a passionate team, access to key talent, funding, a location and vision. It was Bill Mattle and Scott Zielski’s vision for the future of healthcare that inspired the launch of the company. Coming from Pfhizer, Zielski saw changes in the healthcare industry overtime and observed a move from acute care to homecare. They predicted that with 400 people an hour retiring in the U.S., and 90% not wanting to go to an assisted living facility, there would be a need for healthcare technology that supports the caregiver/patient/family relationship. They set out to create a software that could help healthcare companies to manage their business while allowing healthcare providers and families to stay in communication across this distance.
The software works well and the company has begun receiving awards, including Healthcare Tech Outlook’s ‘Top 10 Home Healthcare Solutions Providers - 2020.’ When asked what has made their software a success, Zielski replied, “We focus on the caregiver and patient engagement experience, which leads to stronger relationships and better outcomes. Our software can answer questions like ‘who will be there today’ and ‘what care they will deliver’. We also offer integration with Google and Alexa so you can ask, “How was Grandma’s care today?” This provides families with peace of mind. From a business perspective, our software is a full digital automation solution. We offer GPS location clock in and out to keep track of employees. Invoicing, satisfaction tracking, a marketing system and lead tracking are also included. We also offer a full HR suite which allows companies to bring in caregiver candidates, run background checks, utilize hiring tools, track certifications and alert providers when they need to be renewed. Home healthcare companies who use our software have an over 45% increase in operational efficiency and a 97% reduction in paperwork.” Home healthcare companies agree that SMARTcare Software is helping them to run their businesses more smoothly. This is why after selling their software for less than a year, they already have clients throughout the United States.
When asked if the decision to launch their company from Eau Claire was the right move, Zielski said, “Absolutely. This is the ideal place to start a technology company. This area has great educational resources and employees. We compete against companies in California, where people don’t have the same work ethic and have much higher expenses they need to cover with pay. This is a great environment and Eau Claire offers a great work life balance. People don’t separate work from play here, so after work people can go to Phoenix Park or the theater, which has allowed us to attract talent looking to live in this type of environment. One advantage and why we have grown is that our customer success team really believes in the success of the customer. When you speak with a SMARTcare team member, you are not speaking to someone in another country. You are speaking to someone in the Midwest – that’s a competitive advantage that has allowed us to grow beyond our competitors.”
Zielski believes that these same advantages can apply to other technology and healthcare companies as well. “I came to Eau Claire six years ago when I was working for Pfizer. My dream was to build a healthcare company in Eau Claire with a vision to build up a healthcare ecosystem. We believe in technology and that you can create a healthcare software company in this part of the state. We are proving it out every day,” he said.