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Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship from Arizona: Heidi Jannenga, Co-Founder of WebPT (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Apr 23rd 2017

Sramana Mitra: What do you fantasize about? Are you now trying to take the company public or do you want to do some sort of an acquisition? Now that you have private equity in there, you have to do exit.

Heidi Jannenga: Yes, we have to do exit, but that was one of the other things that we love about Battery. They are patient investors. They don’t have a playbook of three to five years. Their average is quite a bit higher than your average PE firm. We are thinking about opportunities for exit. We fantasize about being a hundred million dollar company by 2020.

We’re going to have 50% market share. We’re going to grow through acquisition. Inevitably, what we think is most likely going to happen as an exit for WebPT is one of two things. One, we are going to be the platform company in which Battery brings on, through acquisitions, other disciplines so that we become more of a platform.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a roll-up strategy.

Heidi Jannenga: Yes, or we become a part of a roll-up strategy where somebody else will be rolling up these niche markets. We’re either going to be the acquiree or the acquired.

Sramana Mitra: Very good. Wonderful story. I’m thrilled to hear about all the maneuvering that you’ve done. Last question, you have been a successful female entrepreneur in technology and you don’t come from a technology background. Tell us about your experience and what is your message to other female entrepreneurs?

Heidi Jannenga: It’s been an interesting transition – the transition to being in a technology company coming from healthcare as a physical therapist. It was actually a fairly difficult one for me. I’d been practicing for close to 15 years at that point. I was at the top of my game. I’m not the risk taker among the two co-founders for sure. I’m the more conservative one. To take this leap of faith into jumping to a software company was definitely not an easy one. That resonates with a lot of female entrepreneurs.

In 2008, we launched that company but then at the take off point, we actually had a beautiful little girl right at that same time. I was becoming a mom and leaving my 15-year career, and jumping into something that I really didn’t know a whole lot about, all at the same time. It’s like learning a new language. Even though it was a new arena, the skills that I was bringing to the table with my operational and people management skills were 100% applicable. A business is a business at a certain level, but it was a new language in terms of developers. I soon learned how to talk the talk and understood what we were trying to accomplish on the technology side.

Too often, you get that fear of the unknown. When I really took a step back, I had all these other skills that are so applicable that others don’t have that play to my advantage. That’s what I did. The people management component, the accounting side of things, the hiring – all of those things is something that I embrace and brought to the table. As you’re building a software company, my technological co-founder was able to focus on that piece. I’m still often the only woman in the room. When we were going through the PE round, I was always the only female in the room. Sometimes, it was intimidating. For the most part, especially being a co-founder, I felt very confident. You just got to find your place.

Sramana Mitra: I’ll tell you one thing that you had an advantage with. You had the goods. Your business was a strongly performing business. You were not shopping a concept. You had proven execution. You were bringing to the table a business to fund. You were in the driver’s seat. There were a lot of investors interested in you.

It would have been very different when they are doing the courting as opposed to being chased. Our mantra in One Million by One Million is don’t go to investors as beggars, go as kings. You, obviously, went there as a queen.

Heidi Jannenga: Absolutely. I love that. Not only that, I was the subject matter expert. Time after time, I was educating them on my industry, which gave me that power. They were not as knowledgeable. We came in with not only the technology chops, but we came in with the subject matter expert. That was a huge differentiator for us that gave me that queen’s crown.

Sramana Mitra: Thank you very much.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship from Arizona: Heidi Jannenga, Co-Founder of WebPT
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