Atlanta Startups Transforming The Business Of Healthcare

Venture Atlanta, Startups, Healthcare startups

Health care billing in the United States is a notoriously convoluted process routinely leaving doctors – the backbone of the health care system and entrepreneurs in their own right – to worry about their practice’s cash flow and their own bottom line. Two Atlanta startups are giving doctors affordable new tools to increase revenue, eliminate lost charges and manage their offices more efficiently, allowing doctors to focus on what they do best, providing their patients with excellent health care.

Transforming the Waiting Room Experience

With their iPad-based PatientPad, Digital Assent is transforming the patient experience from the moment they arrive at their doctor’s office.

“PatientPad is designed to improve the quality of the entire patient visit, from start to finish,” Digital Assent’s CEO, Andrew Ibbotson, said. “And nearly everything about the PatientPad is easily customized for each practice.”

The company’s recently shipped second-generation device is a specially configured iPad optimized for use in a doctor’s office. Housed in a proprietary enclosure protecting the iPad from drops and water damage (and making it easy to disinfect), the PatientPad 2 runs a custom iPad app that wraps a full-screen web browser.

Aimed primarily at the “cash-pay” segment of the health care industry that includes cosmetic dermatologists, plastic surgeons and high-end medical spas, the tablet is designed to give patients a great first impression. To accomplish this, each PatientPad “includes a customized welcome screen with the practice’s name and welcome message, custom-configured patient check-in questionnaires, and content that is hand-picked by each practice to educate and entertain their patients while they wait,” Ibbotson said.  Additional options include the ability to display before and after pictures, notify patients of upcoming events and promotions, apply for healthcare financing and enroll in loyalty programs – all before the patient leaves the office.

“As you can imagine, practices that specialize in aesthetic medicine are very image-conscious,” Ibbotson said.  “Many of our customers cite the importance of appearing modern, current, and cutting-edge in every facet of their practice. PatientPad sets the tone that an office is modern and technologically advanced.”

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Some Of Atlanta’s Top Startups Talk About Competing For Talent

Atlanta startups, MailChimp, Scoutmob, Venture Atlanta, Startup Tips

Startups face a myriad of challenges as they evolve from concept to validation, launch to revenue generation. None of these stages is easy. All require effort, perseverance, and talent.  Attracting and retaining top talent is not a number one priority when held up against other pressing issues such as product development and, in some cases, attracting capital.

But when they are ready, startups have to vie for talent in a tight market.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for IT professionals is in the low single digits. Projections indicate that by 2016, the increase in technical hiring will more than double the growth rate of all other occupations. In this hyper-competitive market where the competition is large, established corporations that can afford to extend attractive compensation packages and startups with personnel needs face an uphill climb.

In this red-hot labor market, wise startups realize that it’s not always about cash.  Instead, offering a unique culture and creative perks can be just as compelling. It also helps to recruit in places that others do not.

MailChimp CEO Ben Chestnut knows firsthand how hard it is to attract talent, but it’s not because Atlanta is a barren wasteland.  He uses the fact that Atlanta is a top market in the region to his advantage. “It’s very much a ‘leave no stone unturned’ approach we take, and I’d add that we tend to look under really weird stones. It helps a ton to be in Atlanta, because we’re an attractive city for talent in surrounding areas to move to.”



Soletron CEO A.J. Steigman, an Emory graduate, uses being in Atlanta, and connections with the local universities to his advantage. “The business conditions in the city are superb for startups,” says Steigman. “The positive business environment plus the ability to recruit top notch talent from local universities were the primary reasons for us getting our Buckhead office.”

Startups know there are intangibles that come into play when trying to attract talent. Founders and CEO’s alike find themselves having to sell their vision to potential employees. This is difficult in the earlier stages of a startup’s life but does get increasingly easier as it gains traction. Consistency and clarity of vision is key.

“Our sell is always the same,” offers up Michael Tavani, co-founder of Scoutmob.  ”We have a huge and unique opportunity to do something magical that’s never been done before and doesn’t happen much, if ever, out of Atlanta.”

Scoutmob is one of the few business-to-consumer startups showing traction in a town known more for successes among business-to-business startups.

Unique perks go a long way toward attracting Millennial and Gen Z candidates who make up much of Scoutmob’s employee base. Located in the hip Krog Street area, this is Tavani’s description of the “vibe” at Scoutmob: “a casual environment, no set hours or vacation policy and working with a bunch of people that are determined to create something delightful that millions of people will use.”

Continue reading, and see what Adam Bitzer cofounder of Pardot and Bill Fasig CMO at Sports Challenge network have to say.


SoftWear Automation Bringing Garment Industry Back To U.S. By Way Of Atlanta

SoftWear Automation, Atlanta Startup,Startup, Venture Atlanta

Steve Dickerson, founder SoftWear Automation (photo: TedX)

Five years ago, retired Georgia Tech automation professor Dr. Steve Dickerson was getting ready for a seminar on the future of robotics.  In preparation, he asked what the biggest need in robotics was today?  The answer came quickly – automation of the garment industry.

To the Lowest Cost Provider Go the Manufacturing Contracts

Dickerson, a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur, grew up in Commerce, Georgia, where at one time there were three sewing operations. Today, most sewing is done overseas, where manufacturers have sought cheap labor.  Pricing pressures are so intense that clothing manufacturing has moved from China to countries with even cheaper labor like Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam.  Dickerson plans to change that trend and bring garment manufacturing back to the United States.

Dickerson, who co-founded SoftWear Automation, Inc. with Dr. Wayne Book, envisions technicians specializing in robotics supervising an entirely automated process, which will replace the need for seamstresses in factories and make the United States competitive in the garment industry again.

According to Plunkett Research, Ltd., in 2012 America imported more than $100 billion in textiles and apparel, while exporting only $22 billion. “In order to manufacture in the U.S., [you] have to be automated,” Dickerson says. “[Businesses] have to eliminate direct labor to make it profitable.”

Old Problem, New Solution

The loss of U.S. apparel manufacturing is not a new problem. In the 1970s and 1980s, government agencies recognized the issue and began developing projects to bring it back. These efforts failed in large part because an economical way to bring the industry back remained elusive — until now. In 2012, SoftWear Automation received $1.2 million from the U.S. government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is required by law to purchase military garments made in the United States.

SoftWear Automation’s robotics focus on more than just sewing. In place of seamstresses, the system will guide fabric through machines and transferred from one machine to another.

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