#0016 Simon Spurr of HealthCloud

By
The Civitas Team

36 ideas from Simon Spurr on selling into enterprise customers, surrounding yourself with good people and having a strong board of mentors and advisors.

Simon Spurr is the CEO of HealthCloud, a platform which enables organisations and partners to easily develop highly interoperable solutions across the healthcare value chain, for the purpose of standardising and simplifying healthcare data. HealthCloud has been working with many of the leading healthcare organisations in South Africa and has managed to build up a strong team and board of advisors to support their growth. A Civitas team member had the opportunity to speak with Simon to understand key lessons and insights from his entrepreneurial journey, thus far. Read below to see what Simon had to say.

Summary of the best ideas from the discussion:

  • Nail a market niche
  • Attach yourself next to people that you can learn from
  • Identify key people to join your company as early as you can
  • Build a strong base of customers
  • Eliminate the risk of overselling and not being able to deliver
  • Work with a team that will get fully behind you
  • Enterprise sales is a long road (sales cycle) in any industry
  • Work harder than anyone else.
  • Be really passionate about what you're doing.

Finding and validating ideas

  1. “We recognized that there was a need to start bringing inpatient (health) data into a more centralized, consolidated view, making it more meaningful.”
  2. “Find a niche in what you're doing, many companies are doing the same thing or copy-pasting models that either they've seen overseas or they've seen locally and trying to compete on that level."
  3. “Validation came from testing and scratching our knees and getting bloodied noses in the market.”

Competition and barriers to entry

  1. “The competitiveness exists more in the fact that what we see is enterprises wanting to try and create their own competitiveness against each other”
  2. “Because the space we play in is highly regulated and the legislature is quite sticky, it needs an understanding of what level of legislation needs to be complied with.”
  3. “There’s not too much competitiveness in terms of a direct competitor. I think it's more of clients who think that they can do what we can offer.”
  4. “The collaborative approach is a very different mindset to do what a lot of companies do. It’s very South African where people feel they have to continually compete against each other. I've spent some time abroad and they think very, very differently in those markets.”

Fundraising

  1. “We've gone through the South African version of fundraising - angel to seed to venture capital and strategic partners coming in with investments and testing.”

Mentorship and advisory

  1. “One of my philosophies is I've always tried to have a mentor, even while working in corporate, I've tried to attach myself to someone that I can learn from.”
  2. “We've got some really good strategic advisers in the business - we identified some key people, probably not early enough, but fairly early in the business. We told them that we can't pay them, but can they work with us and help us shape the business.”
  3. “It's absolutely essential to have people who think differently to you, networked differently to you and can challenge your own thinking.”
  4. “I can't stress how important it is to bring the right people in and not necessarily give them equity - that that can be gained over time.”
  5. “Someone that is trusted, that will grow value. If there's value in the business together, then you will find value for them, whether it's through equity or through something else.”
  6. [On building tech] ”I’m not a coder, but if you have a business strategy and a coding team that you're working with, you really do become set in your own way of thinking and you need that external validation from someone who's close enough to the business to be able to give you some objective, sound, advice.”

Team

  1. “Finding people who believe in the idea - whether it's your team or your investors or shareholders, people have to back you and get behind you.”
  2. “You’ve got to surround yourself with good people.”
  3. “Working with like-minded people - you can have a concept in your head that no one else buys into, and that's not going to go anywhere.”

Sales and growth

  1. “There is a risk of overselling and not being able to deliver. Never compromise on delivery or oversell.”
  2. [On selling to enterprise customers] “It's a combination of the advisors on our board and a unique value proposition.”
  3. [On selling to enterprise customers] “There’s a lot of really top-level thinking that sits around the table and that that opens up networks.”
  4. [On selling to enterprise customers] “At a board level, we've got some really heavy hitters all well connected in different areas.”
  5. [On selling to enterprise customers] “It's a long road in any industry. But in South Africa, it's having to convince old dogs to teach them new tricks”
  6. [On selling to enterprise customers] “The business that we pitched on three, four or five years ago is only now it's starting to come through.”
  7. [On selling to enterprise customers] “We follow a top-down approach - so our clients would be big enterprises who need to either gain access to information themselves to make risk decisions or clinical decisions”
  8. [On selling a technology product] “Because it's tech you want to embed yourself and then you want to keep iterating and selling more services if you can.”
  9. [On selling a technology product] “As with most kinds of tech businesses, once you're integrated, you have done quite a lot of work to get that integration up, so there is an investment and level of commitment from both customer and supplier.”
  10. [On servicing existing customers] “It’s not that we are not chasing new business but we got some clients in our books and we want to bed down and understand what works for them and grow with the bigger clients than to secure new business at this stage.”
  11. [On servicing existing customers] “We've got a really strong base of clients.”
  12. [On servicing existing customers] “We are doing a lot of enhancements with existing clients and trying to strengthen relationships and grow revenue or get more to get more commercial value from existing clients than from getting new customers onboard.”
  13. [On servicing existing customers] “It improves the ecosystem when more and more people are using our platform, so it's a scale that benefits us as well as the client.”
  14. [On servicing existing customers] “As we grow ourselves, we actually grow a lot of benefits for partners and clients."

Building technology products

  1. “We've tried and tested everything. We outsourced in the early days, then we brought some in-house, then we went back to outsourcing through a hybrid model and now we’ve got everything in-house.”
  2. “We were using an outsourced company who we then brought in through a shareholding structure.”
  3. “We run sprints -not completely agile but it's a bit of Agile and DevOps.”
  4. “The business is really built around integration and we're just busy with integrations, continuously so the environment is just continually changing.”

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