Robin Wiener: We were lucky enough to do a project. I had gone out and recruited a company that wanted to do wellness. We built a wellness platform for them.
Sramana Mitra: You were basically doing contract software work at this point. Out of those three desks at the incubator, you were taking projects and building software for people.
Robin Wiener: Exactly. One of the software we built was for a wellness company. Microsoft approached them and said, “We’re starting this brand new platform called HealthVault.” Are you familiar with HealthVault?
Sramana Mitra: No.
Robin Wiener: We had our moment at a big kick-off conference down in DC where they talked about why they would want to build something like HealthVault. It was right after Katrina. What’s interesting to think about is healthcare. What happens then? People’s homes are flooded, so all your records are gone. Even the hospitals were affected and all the servers blew up. Now, you have people leaving New Orleans and going to Dallas or Houston. Let’s say they have cancer. The doctors ask them, “What is your chemo regimen?” The patient doesn’t know because all the records are gone.
The concept for HealthVault is to take that information and put it in the cloud so it can follow you anywhere you need to go. That was our ‘Aha’ moment. Everybody has situations where you wish you had your records on you. That’s really where we got into working with personal health records. We were ahead of the game than what it is now. We started that in 2007. We were passionate about it. It felt like something we’ve been waiting for. We went after it. That’s the way we started. This is where we were changing from a professional services company to a products company.
Sramana Mitra: That’s actually the transition that I want to understand a bit better. This company gave you a project and you built this project and put IP on it.
Robin Wiener: No, they did that. Now we realized that we sit on top of the cloud but it’s just a database. How does the patient access that data? We decided to build a product called InstantPHR. One of the things we realized is, as we were building things for people, everybody wanted the same thing but slightly different. We used to do a lot of work with SharePoint too. We were like, “What can we build that’s not just an application, but also a platform that can be adjusted to meet many clients’ needs?” That’s how we started to build InstantPHR. It has over 200 different widgets or pieces that you can build on any kind of application you want. Instead of people having to engage professional services, we can take those pieces and go ahead and build that form. It’s not just a set of applications.
Sramana Mitra: You built a toolkit that would help you build in a modular way.
Robin Wiener: Absolutely. Being in professional services, you learn things. One of the biggest things we learned is to make sure that this platform can be localized. Everybody forgets about that until the first client comes in and says, “I’d like that in Spanish too.” It’s been a huge advantage for us. It can be in any language in the world. We have it in Arabic, Chinese, French, and Polish. We’re able to pull out the files, change the language, and push it back in. That’s something we learned by having to do so many different projects before. We architected a solution that can be flexible, not just for the US, but for countries all over the world. I think that’s our secret sauce.