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By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Bridge Connector & David Wenger

Read Time 4 Minutes

Business: a healthcare integration platform-as-a-service

CEO: David Wenger

No. of employees: 165 (12 in Palm Beach Gardens)

Main offices: Nashville and Palm Beach Gardens

Funding: Raised $45.5 million in Venture Capital

Recent awards: Inc. 2020 Best Places to Work; Gartner 2020 Cool Vendors; Modern Healthcare 2020 Best Places to Work;  South Florida Business Journal’s 2020 Best Places to Work and 2019 H. Wayne Huizenga Startup Award.

Website: Bridgeconnector.co

 

Bridge Connector, the healthcare platform-as-a-service company founded in 2017 and born in Palm Beach County, now has 165 employees and services about 100 enterprise customers spanning some 750 sites across the U.S. The company has raised $45.5 million, including $25.5 million announced last week — yes, during a global pandemic.

David Wenger, Bridge Connector’s co-founder and CEO, makes hyper-growth look easy, but he has led the company through a number of strategic moves that have unleashed the growth, including properly scaling up talent by continuously bringing on additional roles and raising levels of expertise. “We’ve been really good at seeing the forest through the trees, so to speak, and overcoming any major issue that would prevent us from ultimately continuing to grow at the pace we’re growing now,” he said.

 

THE STORY

The story of Bridge Connector begins with a pitch competition at Palm Beach Tech in November of 2017, says Wenger. (Bridge Connector didn’t win. It still stings.) But shortly after that, Wenger raised the startup’s first round of funding and “it has been a rocket ship since then,” he said.

Bridge Connector provides a suite of vendor-agnostic integration solutions and a full-service delivery model, helping healthcare vendors, providers, and payers more easily share data between disparate systems, such as electronic health records or patient engagement solutions.

“What we figured out is a way to build an integration in healthcare that is agnostic of specification – we can work with any type of vendor no matter how you expect to connect to it. And then, what we’ve created is a way to reuse the integration,” Wenger said. “On top of that, we’re a no-code platform. We’re in that new wave of technology vendors that are focusing on the business user rather than the engineer.”

The company moved its headquarters to Nashville, a healthcare hub, last year and recently expanded the offices there to 37,000 square feet to accommodate about 250 people. But Palm Beach Gardens will always be an important base for the company, Wenger said. Much of the company’s management team, including Wenger, work out of offices above The River House restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens. The company also recently hired a president who will also be working from Palm Beach Gardens. Wenger said South Florida Tech (formerly Palm Beach Tech) has been very supportive as the company has continued to grow. Even that 2017 pitch competition he didn’t win pushed him to push on harder.

 

KEY TO SUCCESS

A key to the company’s success has been its focus on scaling partnerships and creating an ecosystem of healthcare technology vendors.  About a year ago, the company made a strategic decision to focus on hospital vendors instead of hospitals or health systems. “Simultaneously we have created a technology here that we don’t view as another tool or another technology. We view it as a solution to a pain point for all health systems,” he said. Instead of hiring an engineering team to build an integration, they pay Bridge Connector a monthly recurring fee not to worry about it. “Our customers rely on both our people and our technology to help stand up their integrations.”

The result: Business grew 1,000% last year and has doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wenger said. During the pandemic, the company has seen many additional use cases for Bridge Connector, from contactless check-ins and SMS appointment reminders to integrating telehealth visits directly into the EHR. Bridge Connector has hired 40 people since the pandemic started.

To be sure, fund-raising during a pandemic has been a major challenge. Originally planning to raise more than $25.5 million, Wenger met with 100 or so or the top VC firms in the country during the first 8 weeks of COVID, all remotely. Some were interested but a lot of them were just not doing deals. Bad timing.

So Bridge Connector decided to keep the round to its internal investors, which include the firm of former Public CEO Howard Jenkins, and pursue a larger round with top-tier VCs as soon as they can, Wenger said.

 

A DREAM TEAM

For now, Wenger said he couldn’t be happier with his dream team. “It’s because they truly love what they do and where they work. We’re lucky to have the level of talent that we have here.”

To entrepreneurs, he advises: “Stick with your guns and always believe in your idea, you’ll find someone eventually who also believes in it. Create a solid distribution strategy and your go-to-market segment early on. Focus on customer segmentation early on in the life cycle of being an entrepreneur. First, figure out what your ideal customer profile is… and figure out how to create a scalable pricing model that has a solution for any type of buyer that fits within that ideal customer profile.”

Why is your product better than everybody else? Have a good answer for that, Wenger advised, and as you scale proper financial modeling will be a key to success. “And ultimately, don’t be afraid to dream because it might just happen.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Bridge Connector raises $25.5 million in Series B funding

Read Time 2 Minutes

Bridge Connector, a hyper-growth healthcare platform-as-a-service company born in Palm Beach County, on Tuesday announced it has raised $25.5 million in Series B financing to continue its national scale-up.

The round was led by its largest investor, Tampa-based Axioma Ventures, which was co-founded by Howard Jenkins, former CEO of Publix Super Markets. Entrepreneur and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik also participated in the round, which was  joined by all existing investors.

To date, Bridge Connector has raised $45.5 million.

Bridge Connector provides a suite of vendor-agnostic integration solutions and a full-service delivery model, helping health care vendors, providers, and payers more easily share data between disparate systems, such as electronic health records or patient engagement solutions.

“The lack of integration in health care has resulted in care teams relying on antiquated technology like fax machines to relay mission-critical information,” said CEO and co-founder David Wenger, in announcing the raise. “In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been clearer that this inability to share patient data between health care technology vendors creates dangerous care gaps that can mean the difference between life and death for some patients. Bridge Connector is building an ecosystem of connected solutions that is solving this problem.”

Founded in 2017, the company now employs about 165 people, said Wenger, in an interview with South Florida Tech. That’s up from just 25 employees two years ago. Coming off 2019 with 1,000% growth, Wenger said the company’s revenues nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bridge Connector has also added 40 employees since the pandemic’s spread in the U.S., Wenger said.

The company moved its headquarters to the healthcare hub of Nashville last year, but still has offices in Palm Beach Gardens, said Wenger, a serial entrepreneur was raised in Palm Beach County and previously ran a marketing and advertising agency before founding Bridge Connector. Wenger and much of the executive team are based in Palm Beach County. Bridge Connector recently hired a president, who is also based in Palm Beach County.

The new funding will further support the company’s scale-up as well as the growth of Destinations, a new integration-platform-as-a-service  that connects health data systems using use-case-based interoperability blueprints to speed integrations with major vendors.

“We believed strongly in Bridge Connector’s mission to improve interoperability in health care when we made our seed investment, and they’ve exceeded all of our expectations along the way,” said Jenkins, who has participated in every funding round.  “With the company on track for 800 to 1000% growth in 2020, we are eager to see how our continued investment will help Bridge Connector impact the industry and create a health care system that works better for patients.”

Stay tuned for a Member Spotlight coming soon with more about Bridge Connector.

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Bridge Connector

Read Time 4 Minutes

Business: Bridge Connector is an integration platform as a service that delivers streamlined secure integration solutions for healthcare organizations. 

Launched: 2017

HQ: Palm Beach Gardens, with offices in Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn.

Employees: 25

CEO: David Wenger

Website: bridgeconnector.com

CEO’s advice to new entrepreneurs: “You will be knocked down over and over again, but what’s important is that you keep getting back up.”

There’s no magic key that opens the startup funding door. It takes persistence, a great product and team, and perhaps a bit of luck.

Just ask David Wenger, CEO of the Palm Beach Gardens-based health-tech startup Bridge Connector. He said he reached out to 300 to 400 investors before a friend knew someone who knew someone who introduced him to the Jenkins family of Publix Super Markets fame. “They agreed to a meeting and here we are,” said Wenger.

Bridge Connector recently announced a seed investment of $4.5 million, led by Tampa-based emerging-technologies funder Axioma Ventures backed by Howard Jenkins, former CEO of Publix. The financing will be used to continue hiring developers and bolstering its support, sales and management teams.

Bridge Connector, which launched in May 2017, is a secure integration platform as a service for healthcare. “We connect whatever disparate systems that healthcare facilities or systems use,” Wenger explained, using the example of a nursing home brand with 100 facilities around the country, each with different systems. “What we have done is found a way to do it for a relatively low cost compared to what else exists out there and we are full service. That means they won’t need to devote a whole team to build these integrations.”

Wenger, who grew up in Palm Beach County, formerly ran a marketing and advertising agency for six years. It was hired to build an integration for a healthcare client. “It took six months. I said to myself there has got to be a better way to do this.”

His father, a doctor and now also a Bridge Connector investor, inspired him to push on. “My dad always said, ‘create something that is yours and own it’.”

Without taking a salary for a year, Wenger and Judson Lathe, COO of Bridge Connector, went into stealth mode to bootstrap their platform. Developers Adam Henry and Aaron Wallace built the original platform. Wenger and Lathe assembled an executive team that includes Director of Sales Mike Iggulden, a former pro hockey player and Cornell grad who helped deliver a Salesforce partnership; Jason Raphael, VP of Client Relations, who joined from Accenture; CTO Joshua Douglas with 20 years’ experience in healthcare; and VP of Sales Andy Harlen.

“Now it’s literally clicking five buttons and we can build that whole integration that took us six months,” says Wenger about Bridge Connector’s integration tool. “We said to ourselves ‘this is really something’ and then we branched out. We partnered with Salesforce and some very big EMR companies.”

Since the fund-raising, Bridge Connector has been on a hiring spree. The startup, just six people in January, is now 25 in a recently expanded Palm Beach Gardens headquarters and offices in Knoxville, Tenn., and on Nashville’s Music Row. The company aims to be at 40 to 45 employees by year’s end.

“Our motto is master what we are good at and grow out other streams of revenue. There is a lot of opportunity,” said Wenger, who is married and has two toddlers. “We think Palm Beach Gardens is paradise. We think we can grow something very big in South Florida.”

But he added, “Regardless of how big we get, I always want to be the company that responds and communicates fully and transparently to our customers and associates. That’s very important to us.”

Over the next year, Bridge Connector plans to expand its platform and announce more key partnerships.

“Now we have the money to grow the company,” Wenger said. “We plan to be the integration solution for healthcare.”

His new funder thinks so too.

Howard Jenkins, co-founding partner of Axioma Ventures and former CEO of Publix, has joined Bridge Connector as chief strategy officer and a board member, as part of his company’s investment. Other investors in the $4.5 million round include Alex Jenkins, co-founding partner of Axioma; Hannibal Baldwin, CFO of Baldwin Beach Capital and Co-CEO of SiteZeus; and Dr. Jeffrey S. Wenger, a gastroenterologist.

“We are excited to back Bridge Connector,” said Howard Jenkins. “It’s a great example of thinking outside the box and leveraging the value of existing healthcare systems, rather than being disruptive for the sake of it.”

Member Spotlight | Bridge Connector & David Wenger
Bridge Connector raises $25.5 million in Series B funding
Member Spotlight | Bridge Connector