The Future is Now: How These Leaders Handled Startup Changes

The Future is Now: How These Leaders Handled Startup Changes

Startups pivot and adapt, see how these founders handled transformation

Your idea: it’s how you built your startup, generated your mission and set your goals. In fact, it’s what drives your very business. But what if your company hits a rut or the industry expresses a new need? It might just be time to pivot. We interviewed some of Ohio’s founders who, in the face of intimidating change, handled curveballs and redirected their startups to success. See what they have to say about adapting for the future by tackling change head on.

Dan Fronczak, Co-Founder and President, Healthy Roster

Dan Fronczak, Co-Founder and President, Healthy Roster

 

 

 

 

 

 

TechOhio: What changes has your company experienced the past couple years?

Dan Fronczak: The company is now doing business in 47 states across the country with 160+ sports medicine groups. As we’ve grown, we’ve started to find other uses for our app/platform in the home health and industrial spaces. As a medical provider, using Healthy Roster to document outside the clinic and communicate in a HIPAA compliant manner have proven to be the two big winners for scaling our business. We now have 16 FTEs on staff all working out of our downtown Dublin office, right next to the new bridge that’s being built. It’s been exciting to have a growing company alongside a growing community!

TO: What challenges did you have to respond to?

DF: There are challenges every day to tackle. The biggest challenge is trying to stay focused. As an example, there are plenty of areas in the medical space to address, but when we looked to expand this year, we had to really do our homework and find out what was most tangential to our core product. We have a hard-working, smart staff. We constantly draw upon each other’s feedback to make the most educated decisions possible. The home health and industrial work spaces were well-thought-out paths to travel down without diluting our overall efforts. We could have easily been side-tracked with other product ideas and enhancement suggestions.

TO: Anything that surprised you about how your company had to adapt?

DF: Nothing surprises me anymore. It sounds cliché, but the unpredictable is the only thing that is predictable. We haven’t had to pivot our business, but we adjust to the ebb and flow of our market constantly: their needs, their buying cycles, their vision. We handle the unknown very well.

TO: Were there certain changes in your industry that prompted these changes? If so, what were they and why?

DF: Not really. The change to the industry is us! Because Healthy Roster is so unique, we’ve had to educate our customers on how to buy our product, as there are many layers of oversight in a hospital purchase. It’s all good though because in the end, there is total buy-in and an inclusive approach to launching the platform.

TO: What advice would you give a startup facing growing pains? How do you prepare for the future while taking care of present needs?

DF: Stay focused and embrace the roller coaster. Additionally, hire good people to be on the ride with you and lean on their feedback.


Chase Bergman, Founder, Gylee Games

Chase Bergman, Founder, Gylee Games

 

 

 

 

 

 

TechOhio: What changes has your company experienced the past couple years?

Chase Bergman: I previously founded ChoreMonster and am now launching a new video game studio called Gylee Games in Cincinnati, so there have been a lot of changes for me. One of the reasons we’ve started this studio is we noticed that there was a trend in the video game market for the past five years where users marry themselves to one particular game and put hundreds of hours into it. Think about Fortnite. Customers aren’t buying nearly as many games because games are requiring so much of their time and energy. Gylee was started specifically to create what we call “breather games,” which are games that are anywhere from five to ten hours long to complete the entire narrative. They are specifically cooperative, not competitive, so you also stay away from the aggravation of esports.

TO: What challenges does this industry pose?

CB: The video game industry is changing at an incredibly rapid pace. Mobile is still a huge contender, but it requires such a vast amount of microtransactions to make it feasible. It’s really not sustainable for a company that only has 20 people or so. We’re watching the PC platform wars unfold, because there are more avenues that PC players can buy games. We’re making sure that we’re ready for these changes when they happen.

TO: Anything that surprised you about how your company had to adapt?

CB: I think it’s being very decisive on which platforms we’re going to release on, and what the cadence of those releases are. You know, when we started, Epic Games’ store didn’t exist. It’s an incredibly new platform. Now, we have to go in and see what the best choices for our game are. I think the rise of Nintendo Switch has been surprising to a lot of people. Not only that, but we’re looking forward to announcements from Sony and Microsoft about their next generation console. So, we want to be very aware and astute about what’s coming.

TO: What advice would you give a startup facing growing pains? How do you prepare for the future while taking care of present needs?

CB: For me in particular, one of the biggest pieces of advice that I could have used is to stay focused on my core competency. There are many opportunities that could be distractions. You should definitely analyze new chances and take them into consideration, but if they move you away from the reason why users love you, be careful about being too opportunistic. We’re also moving the studio to Ohio from New York City purposefully. We see a huge talent pool here and we’re excited to pull from that and grow our business.


Mark Woodka, CEO, OnShift

Mark Woodka, CEO, OnShift

 

 

 

 

 

 

TechOhio: What changes has your company experienced the past couple years?

Mark Woodka: A few years ago, we were a niche software company that was focused on staff scheduling. Although OnShift offered some ancillary products around our core scheduling solution, we were still primarily a “scheduling company.” In the past couple of years, we made two significant decisions as part of our business strategy that took our business to the next level.  The first decision was to move beyond scheduling, becoming a platform company that addresses the staffing challenges end-to-end that healthcare providers are facing. The second decision was to find a financial partner who could help drive our growth both organically and inorganically which is why we partnered with Clearlake Capital last year.

TO: In what ways has your company grown? What challenges have you responded to?

MW: OnShift has grown exponentially the past few years. We have grown revenues historically at a 30%-50% annual rate.  We hired over 50 people in 2018, and now occupy 4 floors in the Keith building in downtown Cleveland. High growth presents a number of challenges. Finding and hiring great people in a tight job market is always a challenge. We put a lot of energy in to getting great people on the team and providing them with rewarding work and top tier benefits. Culture is critically important to us. My business partner, Teri Hembree and I work hard to ensure our culture is maintained and that we are staying true to it.

TO: Anything that surprised you about how your company had to adapt?

MW: The reality of running a startup is that you are going to have to adapt. The challenge is reading the tea leaves to know how to adapt and when to do it. It’s easy to keep doing the same thing over and over because it’s familiar. Good CEOs are adept at pattern recognition, seeing changes in your customer’s and market’s characteristics or needs and knowing if you should evolve your approach or products. A couple of years ago most of our customers acknowledged that they couldn’t hire enough staff and hire them quickly enough. They turned to OnShift for a solution. Could we build new technology to help them hire faster? When we unpacked the problem, we found hiring was a challenge, but the major driver was employee turnover. We launched OnShift Engage to help our customer’s retain existing employees and it has been wildly successful. Driving more candidates in the front door without closing the back would not have alleviated the problem.

TO: Were there certain changes in your industry that prompted these changes? If so, what were they and why?

MW: There is a widespread workforce shortage which is projected to get much worse in the coming years. Industry trade associations project that we need an additional 2.5 million workers in healthcare by 2030. A shortage of new candidates coupled with very high turnover rates are putting tremendous pressure on our customers. We feel that we can deliver solutions to help address and alleviate these pressures and are looking to both build new products as well as acquire technologies that accelerate our roadmap.

TO: What advice would you give a startup facing growing pains? How do you prepare for the future while taking care of present needs?

MW: If you are the CEO of a high-growth technology company, you need to do two things very well. First, you must make sure the day-to-day operations of the company are performing as expected and course correct as quickly as you can if they are not. Second, you need to continue to manage high growth. As you grow, internal processes need better definition and you must have the systems in place to be as efficient as possible to achieve economies of scale. The last piece of advice I would give is to enjoy the ride.


Healthy Roster is based in Columbus, Ohio and is a portfolio company of Rev1 Ventures, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier.

Gylee Games is based in Cincinnati, Ohio and receives support from CincyTech, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier.

OnShift is based in Cleveland, Ohio and received funding from JumpStart Inc and North Coast Angel Fund, both partners of Ohio Third Frontier.

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