Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Morton, Texas, a small town just west of Lubbock. It’s a dry cotton farming part of the state. You can learn a lot about life in a dry land farming community.
I also spent time in Houston, which was about as different from small town life as you could get. Growing up in those very different places gave me the opportunity to interact with people across a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences.
What university did you go to?
I was in Lubbock at Texas tech for two semesters, but quickly ended up in the Army. This was back in the 1990’s, I spent a year in South Korea, and six months in Guantanamo Bay. I had several outstanding leaders in the army, that taught me a great deal about leadership and teamwork. After the Army, I attended the University of Houston.
Where did you work before your current company?
I joined a startup tech firm in San Francisco. I managed a database team there. It was my first management position, and it allowed me to see a lot of business strategies that worked, but also a lot that didn’t.
How did you start Kinnser Software?
After San Francisco, I returned to Houston where I found a group of home health care companies that were looking for software to help them operate more efficiently. This was in 2003. They couldn’t find anything on the market, so they contracted with me to develop something. I set up an office in a home health agency and developed software to solve their problems. I worked very closely with them. I kept the software really lean and easy to use. In home health care, the user is a 50-year-old nurse and not someone who is necessarily savvy with the latest technology tools.
The software met a real need and became the foundation of what is now, ten years later, the leading software for the home health industry–Kinnser Agency Manager™.
What does Kinnser Software do?
Kinnser Software delivers a web-based electronic health record (EHR) solution to home health agencies, therapy companies, and hospices. Our software schedules clinicians, holds medical records, records the visits, generates claims for reimbursements, generates bills and financial reports, and allows HIPAA-compliant messaging between the professionals providing care to patients. The fact that the software is web-based means the information is secure, yet available to the mobile workforce that makes home care possible.
What is it for?
Kinnser Software is for home health agencies, therapy companies, and hospices of any size.
Why did you call it Kinnser?
“Kinnser” was a name that was short, simple, and unique.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?
I’d say hiring has been the toughest part. I’ve never believed in throwing people at problems. At Kinnser, we don’t hire until there’s an undeniable need. We’ve made excellent and careful hiring decisions over the years, but it’s been a very deliberate process and highly challenging.
What is the next step for you and your business?
We took on private equity about 2 years ago. I found I became more aggressive in running the business once I had that capital behind me. Consequently, we’re growing quickly, expanding our reach, and gaining increasing larger customers–which brings new challenges.
Because Kinnser operates as a Software as a Service (SaaS) company, it is absolutely essential that we stay focused on customer success. We have to earn our customers’ business every year. Kinnser’s most important next step is always to keep satisfying our customers.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
My recommendation is to start out depending on your customers for revenue, not investors. There’s a saying, “revenue solves all problems” which I believe is really true. Revenue means you are doing something right. It means customers want what you’re offering. I believe Kinnser took on investment capital at the right time. I see some companies taking on the wrong capital, at the wrong time. Your goal shouldn’t be to take on capital as soon as possible, but to build a business that customers need.
What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?
Over the years, I’ve learned to fire myself from roles when there was someone available who could do a better job.
Working with our private equity partners–Insight Venture Partners–has been like that. They work with a lot of companies and have seen a lot of strategic strategies succeed and fail. They know what works and what doesn’t. Their input has been very helpful.