Bridge Connector: State of the Union
Bridge Connector CEO David Wenger kicked off the company’s first annual Apex on Friday, February 22, 2019. He took the stage with “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty playing, which could easily be considered David’s personal and professional theme song over the last couple of years.
We wanted to share his remarks, as they give a great overview of where Bridge Connector has been, and where it’s headed in the next year.
What a year it has been for Bridge Connector. This past fiscal year has been outstanding, and even more significant when you consider we launched just a little over a year ago.
At this exact point in time last year, we were sitting in a WeWork with five people. We now have 57 individuals on our payroll. I really appreciate every one of you and all of the hard work put in by everyone to get us to this point. We are focused on growing — “growth over everything” as you’ve heard me say before, whether that means in terms of hiring or from a learning standpoint. We, as individuals and as a team, are able to achieve this with “continuous improvement,” which I see time and again from our team. This is why we’ve identified it as a core value we’ll continue to live by here at Bridge.
We grew tremendously this past year, and with 50 projected hires in the next 12 months, we will roughly double in size. The sales team will soon increase to five times its current size, with growth in our delivery, product and HR staff as well.
In addition to growing our team across all departments, we’re growing the product, the culture, and of course the processes, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel as our numbers increase. “Growth” — in a rapid, yet smart and strategic way — is definitely our motto moving forward.
For all of you who haven’t heard this story yet: About a year and a half ago, Jud (Bridge Connector’s COO Judson Lathe) and I had an idea — to build a platform that could integrate anything, quickly and affordably. I’m proud to say we’re doing that now. It’s working.
During those first few months, as our marketing agency was phasing through a transition and we were simultaneously building Bridge Connector, it was a tough period of time — rife with the kinds of challenges that test every aspect of your character. Jud and I felt this on a very real level, full of personal sacrifices and doing whatever it took to “do right” by our existing agency clients and people. That process really put into my brain and Jud’s brain — you always treat people right. And that’s how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis. We respect each other. Yes, this is a business, but we also want it to feel like “family.” And no matter how big we get, we will always be that way. So the details surrounding that lesson were challenging, but that’s why we added “resiliency” to our core values. Without it, we’re not here today. As can happen when you’re starting a business, you get knocked down a lot, but we’re here now. That’s thanks to all of you.
I’m really proud of all we’ve done. We have partnerships with some of the biggest companies in the country — Salesforce, major EHRs, and all types of app technologies. We’re improving our product on a daily basis and innovating consistently. That’s how we grow — by coming up with new things, being persistent, being focused, and being respectful of each other in the process. No matter what happens, we’re always going to stick together, because that’s how you solve things.
As Bridge Connector grows, our product and product team has grown with it. We’ve made significant improvements to our core platform, adapting and growing in order to be the best it can possibly be for our clients. We’ve also made significant strides toward expanding our product suite, thanks to the innovative minds on our team who want to solve as many problems in the health care industry as we possibly can.
… Which brings me to Sales. It’s a smaller department, but for a company to be this size and be able to pull off what we did last year? My hat is off to Mike and Andy on a job well-done. Last year, Bridge Connector was a new company with one beta customer. Fast forward to today: the numbers we have been able to close, and the strategic partnerships we were able to make this past year have been absolutely fantastic. Not to mention, we’re preparing to launch our first “Powered by Bridge” social determinants of health (SDOH) app, Care Service Connect, which we were able to share more about at HIMSS. This is such a timely issue to address, coupled with a great solution, as usual, from our product and tech departments. All of this to say: not many companies make it out of year one, let alone have revenue in year one. And I’m proud to say we had significant revenue in year one. So that is truly a testament to the innovation and hard work happening across the organization, in every department.
I’m really, really proud of everything that all of you do on a daily basis. Always push forward, always rely on each other, and always treat people the right way. And the rest will take care of itself.
Apex brought Shark Tank, Town Hall
Following David’s remarks, each department gave updates and presented goals for the coming year.
A “Pitch Competition” allowed all interested employees the opportunity to pitch their business ideas in a format similar to the Shark Tank television series. Five individuals pitched to judges, with their product or business ideas ranging from new, original products Bridge Connector could add to their roadmap, to what they felt was the next, most logical extension for Bridge Connector to expand their business offerings to existing customers.
As a surprise to everyone, David presented the first annual Apex and Founders’ Circle Award. This year’s recipient was Mike Iggulden, who was recognized for his dedication as one of the original Florida staff who has shared in the startup risks since the very beginning, and for emerging as a leader and a determined, high-producing “closer” on the sales team.
“Mike is a very trusted, loyal, and hard-working person who embodies every single one of our core values,” said David.
David also fielded questions from all employees during a Town Hall portion, which the company will continue doing on a quarterly basis, to allow for open and direct feedback, with David already committing to research and possibly incorporate some of the suggestions offered during the event.
“Just because we’re growing by leaps and bounds doesn’t mean that employees should ever feel that their voice may not be heard,” David said. “I loved the Town Hall. And I also used it as an opportunity to remind all employees that they shouldn’t feel like that’s the only time they ‘have my ear.’ Any employee, regardless of department or position, should always feel free to connect with me directly on Slack or via email.”
According to Merriam-Webster, “apex” is defined as the “top or highest part of something.” And the consensus among Bridge Connector staff is that this event was indeed a high point that brought together their different departments, increased understanding, and inspired to achieve shared goals in the year ahead.