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Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship: Philippe d’Offay, CEO of PMD (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Aug 7th 2016

Sramana Mitra: Talk to me about revenue ramp. You talked about hitting $1 million in 2009. How did the business accelerate from thereon? What were the drivers?

Philippe d’Offay: We’re a four-time Inc 5000 nominee. That is one distinction that we’ve had. Last year, we generated $6.4 million in revenue. From 2009 to 2015, there was a six-fold increase in revenue and a two-fold increase in profit. Of course, we’re a recurring revenue model, so keeping those customers happy allows us to start the year with new revenue on top of revenue from new customers. We’ve always been obsessed with customer support and providing a great service.

The other thing we found was that eventually, we got so big that nobody was able to keep up with their customers anymore. It just got to the point where each of us had 500 or more doctors who knew us by name. It got to the point where everybody was spread thin. Everybody was trying to do all of their duties. Customer engagement is one of those things that lacks urgency in many people’s minds. We started seeing some slipping there. We started seeing some customers that were unhappy and we didn’t know that they were unhappy.

That was a big turning point – realizing that you have to hire people that are specifically skilled at managing an account. We went from a company where if we hired an account manager, we wouldn’t be quite sure what to do because each of us would visit our customers every quarter face to face to a company where we absolutely needed these people. That has led to us learning some pretty incredible things from our customers that we’re really not smart enough to have known ourselves. This learning from our customers allowed us to diversify our product. Now, we have multiple sources of revenue.

As you know, you can’t really ride that one-technology-horse out into the horizon forever. There are things that happen in the marketplaces. There are competitors that appear. All of a sudden, that one product is, overnight, irrelevant. I was fortunate enough to have seen Clay Christensen speak about his book The Innovator’s Dilemma. That clued me in on a really important aspect of PMD. We actually created a division within PMD whose sole purpose was to bankrupt the primary company. We started innovating out of that company and creating products within days. Those that started gaining traction were then slowly brought over to the other side of the organization to become mature products.

Sramana Mitra: You did all this without external financing?

Philippe d’Offay: That’s not 100% true. I started PMD using personal savings. When those ran out, I then reached out to family, friends, and colleagues. Then I brought in angel-type investors. These were people who knew me or knew somebody who knew me. It wasn’t an institutional type of angel.

Sramana Mitra: How much money have you raised for the company?

Philippe d’Offay: It’s just a little over a third of a million.

Sramana Mitra: You basically spent about a little over a quarter million, and you’ve built a business that is doing $6.5 million recurring revenue.

Philippe d’Offay: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: That’s awesome.

Philippe d’Offay: I do want to mention one thing. I’m a very detail-oriented type of personality. As I lent money to PMD from my personal savings, I realized that rather than paying myself a salary, which has tax consequences, if I slowly pay myself my loans back, I could save a lot. Things were running really thin and what I was worried about in the long-term is that all of my life savings would never come back to me in the form of savings. I remember talking to my dad about that. He said, “What do you want to do? Do you want to invest in somebody else’s company and hope to get 5% every year, or do you want to invest in your own company and have a life for yourself that you have control over?” I think it was the right decision.

Sramana Mitra: The pride and joy of building something of your own is not very easy to match in any other form.

Philippe d’Offay: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: It was great talking to you. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship: Philippe d’Offay, CEO of PMD
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