Dan Rodrigues is the founder and CEO of Kareo. He founded the company in 2004 with a vision of simplifying medical offices with web-based medical billing software. Prior to launching Kareo, Dan started creating technology for the healthcare industry in 2001 as a co-founder and managing partner of Skematix, a software consulting firm based in Southern California. In the late 1990s, Dan was the co-founder and CEO of Scour, a search engine for finding music and video files online. Dan began his career as a software developer for RealNetworks and Visio. Dan holds a bachelors of science in computer science from the University of California.
Sramana: Dan, let’s start with the beginning of your personal story. Where are you from, where did you grow up, and what circumstances set you on your entrepreneurial journey?
Dan Rodrigues: I was born in Orange County, California. I grew up in a middle-class family. My father was a pilot and flight instructor who turned into a computer programmer and consultant. My mother was in a lot of different roles primarily doing administrative work. Both were entrepreneurial by nature, and both were very interested in computers. They also both taught me to be very independent and the value of hard work.
My dad introduced me to computer hardware and programming in the early days of the desktop PC. My mother, interestingly enough, was the manager of a Kinko’s-like copy shop and did a lot of desktop publishing by night. One of the things that was interesting about my upbringing is that through my junior high and high school years my mother was involved in two successful entrepreneurial endeavors. She was an early employee of both. She would meet with the founders in our living room and help them with their projects.
The first company was The Upper Deck. They were a baseball company that created a disruptive baseball card product that was an order of magnitude better in quality than anything else that had been done. That company really took off and went from one person with an idea to several hundred employees.
The other company she was involved with was the company that created Hooked On Phonics. She helped the founder design the reading kit and packaging for the kit. That product went on to be very successful and challenged the way that reading was taught in the U.S. It made the phonics reading methodology very popular.
Her involvement with those companies definitely influenced my path towards becoming an entrepreneur.
Sramana: Where did you go to college?
Dan Rodrigues: In high school I was involved in academics and sports. I was the editor of the high school newspaper and yearbook, which taught me a lot about organization and project management. I then went on to college and decided to study computer science. I spent the first couple of years at the University of Washington in Seattle and then finished at UCLA.
When I was at the University of Washington I had the opportunity to take a couple of jobs as a software developer on the afternoons and weekends. The first company was Vizio. I joined them just six months after they went public. They had world class software, and I learned a ton from them. After Vizio I joined RealNetworks. I was there in the 1995 and 1996. That was a great opportunity to see a high-growth company in an exciting time. They had just struck a deal to distribute the product on Windows 95 and were preparing for an IPO.