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Software firm CEO says startups take time to make an impact

About 460 attend innovations summit in Toledo

It takes just a few years to turn a startup into a firm that can be acquired quickly. But if your goal is to have a large impact on the world, expect it to take at least 10 years.

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Matt Scantland, CEO of CoverMyMeds.com, gives the keynote address at the ProMedica Innovations summit.

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“It took Microsoft nine years to get to $100 million in sales. ... Oracle took 10 years,” said Matt Scantland, chief executive officer and co-founder of CoverMyMeds, an Ohio-based healthcare software firm that was recently bought by a drug distributor for $1.1 billion.

“The point of this data is that it takes a very long time to have an impact that ends up making a real difference on the world,” said Mr. Scantland, the keynote speaker Thursday at an innovations summit sponsored by ProMedica Innovations, the business incubator arm of the Toledo health care provider.

About 460 people attended the summit, which was held at the Park Inn by Radisson downtown.

CoverMyMeds, which began in 2008 in Twinsburg, Ohio, but now is based mainly in Columbus, provides software to streamline the “prior authorization” process that health insurance companies use to regulate the use of medicine and medical services.

CoverMyMeds software automates the process that used to require phone calls and faxes between multiple parties, thereby saving time and paperwork.

“We took a big problem — prior authorization — something that happens 200 million times a year in this country, and every day in the doctor’s office, and we solved this not by disrupting the established players but by making their businesses work better,” Mr. Scantland said.

“That created a network effect … that allowed us to grow, and then we did that by counting on our employees,” he said. CoverMyMeds is Ohio’s first “unicorn,” a software industry term to describe a startup whose value exceeds $1 billion.

Mr. Scantland co-founded the firm with pharmacist Sam Rajan, although it was Mr. Scantland’s third startup. The CEO said he learned some key things in his two previous attempts and it helped him achieve his goal of making an impact with the healthcare software firm.

“At CoverMyMeds we have a simple playbook for 10 years. It starts with taking a big problem and solving it in a way that everybody wins,” he said.

CoverMyMeds figured out a way its product could make everyone happy. Doctors and pharmacists both began using the product, allowing them to communicate better. Meanwhile, insurers saw their timetables become more efficient while pharmaceutical firms saw better sales.

“Solving a big problem allows you to create a network and that means your customers help you to grow, your customers end up doing a lot of the work,” Mr. Scantland said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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