The Latest from the ABM Experts
August 15, 2019
The Physical Therapist Who Built a $100M SaaS Company
Written by Sangram Vajre
Most times, it’s not when we’re forcing it. It tends to reveal itself in the most mundane of activities.
But, when it shows up, it’s a beautiful thing.
This is what happened to the president and co-founder at WebPT, Heidi Jannenga. As a physical therapist, she saw the need for a more sophisticated method of documenting patient visits. Pen and paper was the protocol.
Without initially recognizing it, Heidi was carving out a brand new market category for her SaaS product. She was the first to create a solution to a problem that was affecting all of her peers.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take just a snap of the fingers to get people to believe in your solution. Heidi had a lot of work ahead of her in 2008.
Now, WebPT controls 40% of the market.
Heidi fills in FMF co-host John Rougeux on her steps to category creation success.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
Five steps to making your market category a reality:
- Building strategic partnerships
- Hiring the best team
- Educating your audience
- Rising as an industry thought-leader
- Taking time for personal growth
1. Build strategic partnerships
You’ve established that you have a fantastic idea for a new market category. Now, find a credible partner who can help you get off on the right foot.
Heidi has always been a physical therapist professionally and at heart. She didn’t have any experience in the development of software. Though she was about to learn a great deal about the SaaS market, she needed to team up with a developer.
A tactical partnership can speed up the process of launching your solution more so than if you set out to do it all on your own. Find a partner that complements your strengths and compensates for any weaknesses.
2. Hire great people
This step might sound really simple. And, for the most part, it is.
If you acquire the capital to hire a team, make sure their values are aligned with your vision for your company. Understand that teachability and humility are among the best qualities an employee can have. You might even prioritize them above experience or skill.
Heidi emphasizes that WebPT hires according to culture first and foremost. None of the members of her marketing team had experience in the healthcare space. However, they have the passion to learn and knowledge of digital marketing.
This team helped WebPT take 40% of the market share.
In order to hire for culture first, keep these ideas top-of-mind:
- The voice you use externally should be reflected internally. The tone you use to recruit rockstar employees should be the same tone you use once they commit to your company.
- Hire according to company values and mission. Ask yourself, “does this person support our company’s values and vision for the future”.
- Find people who aren’t only concerned with the bottom line. Don’t short-change your employees. But, if they’re only concerned with generating the most money, they likely won’t buy into your company’s mission.
3. Educate your audience
Getting over the learning curve is a big part of category creation. You know that your audience will love your solution if they could only see how easy it is to use.
Heidi understood that she had to make it as convenient as possible for her audience to educate themselves about her SaaS product. A few strategies she implemented were:
- Blogging about the business side of the physical therapy industry
- Hosting free webinars every month
- Speaking and networking at industry conferences
Unintentionally, Heidi’s team saw another category branch off of their new one:
Education for the business side of physical therapy.
WebPT became the leader in educating physical therapists about running their practices from a business perspective. Now, Heidi’s team hosts an industry-wide conference focused on providing the latest and greatest processes for creating a successful PT business.
4. Own your position as an industry thought-leader
When you’re a successful category creator, others will look to you for industry updates. You have an innate responsibility to be a leader for your niche.
By thoroughly educating their audience and owning their position as an industry thought-leader, WebPT is well-known and well-respected. They’re the first brand many professionals in the space think of when considering EMR software for outpatient therapy.
5. Take time for personal growth
At the end of each episode, we like to ask guests for one piece of advice they’d like to leave listeners with.
Heidi stresses the importance of taking time for personal growth. She has seen the benefits – personally and professionally – of taking time for oneself. Heidi encourages you to ask yourself what you want out of life and to take time to better understand yourself.