StartUs Presents: appointmed

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Viennese startup appointmed provides software solutions in healthcare. Learn from co-founder Patrik Inzinger why having the right team is what matters most.

Describe appointmed in 50 words or less.

appointmed is aiming to be the global trademark in healthcare software solutions. Healthcare professionals already love to use our practice management software in their daily business and in the near future patients will also enjoy the experience and ease of managing their health in the most comfortable way.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

I’ve always been someone who rather pursued his own way than to fit the “norm”. After a few years as an employee, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t carved out for a 9-5 office job. I got more and more frustrated with the situation I was in, so I took a leap of faith and started my freelance career. (I still take on interesting projects from time to time under

I pretty quickly got the chance to work with quite a few recognisable companies all over the world, but it was through my connection to the guys from Pioneers Festival when I got introduced to the Austrian startup scene. They of course knew tons of young startups who were in need of an UI designer for their initial MVPs. In the case of products like Durchblicker or Codeship I also got to work on the next version of already established platforms, that in the end made quite an impact in their growth and attracted huge investors as a result.

Infected by the spirit and ruthless dedication of those guys, appointmed is our attempt to build something from scratch ourself that is not only useful for healthcare professionals, but will also improve the lives of a huge amount of people.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

On the patient side we enabled everyone to manage every aspect of their medical life on a single platform. We believe that all the data that is now exclusively available in some weird desktop software at your doctors office should be directly available to you as a patient as well – always accessible via web- and mobile apps. If you need a second opinion or need to see a specialist for example, you can also share selected information with other healthcare professionals or even put in new data to keep your file up to date before your next visit.

On the other hand, current software solutions for healthcare professionals are, quite frankly, terrible. Bloated and overly complex (desktop only) applications are the norm and most people we talk to are getting more and more frustrated or simply gave up using them all together.

The value of appointmed is in the details. We strive to make even the most complex workflows as simple as possible and go the extra mile in terms of code to achieve this. Advanced telemedicine is also something we definitely have on our extended roadmap.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

At the (early) stage we’re in right now, the most important measure of success is clearly the feedback from our first customers. Of course, every business depends on revenue at the end of the day, but I believe that building a product people truly love is the necessary foundation which a successful business can be built upon – especially in the very traditional healthcare industry, where it is really, really hard to sell innovation in (software-) technology.

Feedback also helps us to focus on the right features, tasks and details to actually achieve such product. Another good thing that comes with this deep engagement with our users is that they actually care about our future as a company and help us out in every way they can.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

That’s a pretty tough question, as almost every single day is different from the day before. I’m mostly in charge of keeping the team on track and exploring new ideas and concepts for our products. Apart from that I also talk to a lot of potential partners and of course our users. We value their feedback quite a lot and even implemented a custom feedback form before we had a working calendar view in our practice management software!

Since we don’t work from a physical office and many of us enjoy the freedom of working from wherever they feel like, most of our communication happens in Slack or Google Hangout (lately we’ve also given Sqwiggle a try – we’ll see how this works out in the long run). We still try to have at least one day a week where we all get to hang out together and get work done that needs direct feedback from others though.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the software like you imagined it in the beginning?

I wouldn’t say we pivoted, but over the last couple of months our focus on features has shifted according to our users’ feedback. It hasn’t been like “oh that doesn’t work, we need to stop doing X and do something completely different instead”.

Thankfully we already tested early concepts and wireframes with a good number of potential customers from the very beginning – even before having written a single line of code. That way we were able to make sure that we are actually building something that healthcare professionals find useful in the end – plus we also got our first early-adopters that way!

So right now everything we do is is more like a refinement of the direction we were already heading from day one, which potentially saved us from completely pivoting and building the “wrong” product in the first place. That doesn’t mean that we won’t change our direction in the future though. You always have to stay flexible and react on ever changing environments and needs of the market.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

I could tell you about all the stuff that we believe we do better than our competitors, but at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is if your users love your product/company or not.

We do take quite a lot of time to talk to them and emphasise how important their feedback is to us. At the same time we encourage them to actually be part of the development process with their ideas and thoughts. This has been incredibly helpful so far and we definitely want to continue those conversations in the future and even build tools around it to make sure every user feels like they can actually be a part of the team and influence the product in a way.

(Of course there is – with every business, and this is true especially for startups – always a certain amount of luck and the right timing involved to actually be successful in the long run.)

What do you look for in team members?

First and foremost: personal fit. In my opinion THE most important part of every successful business are the people behind it. Now matter how good (or bad) the product is, the team is always a deciding factor when it comes to success or failure. Companies with 50+ employees often have the luxury of compensation by number: If there is someone who doesn’t fit the culture or doesn’t perform as expected, there is a good chance that the rest will step in and save the day. When you’re a small team like we are right now, a single bad hire can potentially mean the end of the whole company.

So what does our ideal candidate look like apart from personal fit? Probably someone who has been some sort of self-employed before (part time or full time doesn’t really matter) and knows how to be productive, even if there is no one looking over their shoulder 24/7.

Why would a talent join your team?

I guess the number one reason why people like to join our team, would be the fact that it feels like being a freelancer, but has all the convenient aspects of having a full time job. We usually don’t track time spent on any given task, but rather define a clear and realistic timeline and let the people decide when and how they want to tackle the issues at hand.

At the end of the day we strive to build a company culture around freedom and self-empowerment. The way companies like Buffer are structured are a huge inspiration and I do believe that this is the direction our whole industry should be heading.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

Honestly, I’m not sure if there is single one I’d choose.

One of those moments is definitely the evening Bernhard (my co-founder) and I discussed the idea of appointmed for the very first time while watching the sunset from his terrace (that sounds pretty cheesy, right?!) – I think that was back in September 2013 and it was almost a completely different concept at the time!

Also the very first crash of our production system – we didn’t have multiple instances of the application at that time – was something that will be stuck in my head for quite a while. I’m pretty sure it looked something like this.

Apart from that, we had some amazing action packed team events, our weekly hackathons are always tons of fun and I’m sure were going to have lots memorable moments in the future as well.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

Stay as small as possible for as long as you can. The more people you have to take care of, the harder it gets to keep great chemistry between every single one. Most of the startups I’ve worked with and which ultimately failed, did so because they not only hired too fast, but they also hired the wrong people for the team.

As mentioned before, the team is by far the most important asset of your business, so don’t ruin it with someone who is potentially dangerous for your company.

That doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree on everything all the time of course, but use some common sense when it comes to bringing new people on board and only focus on hiring if there is real pressure to fill a certain position. Don’t hire for the sake of growing.


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