How a Harvard grad set up her business to be acquired — twice — for $1.35 billion

  • While at Harvard Medical School, Lissy Hu saw a glaring problem in healthcare she could fix.
  • She created CarePort Health, a network that helps health professionals coordinate care, track, and manage patients.
  • In the last five years, her company has been acquired twice — by Allscripts in 2016 and WellSky in December, for $1.35 billion. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Lissy Hu considers herself an accidental tech entrepreneur. 

She was attending Harvard Medical School, with the hope of becoming a doctor after graduation, when she saw a glaring problem in healthcare: Many patients need additional care after leaving the hospital, such as at-home services or stints at nursing homes. However, there was a disconnect between the parties trying to organize these efforts, leaving patients without a clear recovery plan. 

“I wanted to build technology that could address this because I had seen technology work in other areas of our daily life, like restaurants and hotels,” said Hu, founder and CEO of CarePort Health, a care coordination network that helps health professionals track and manage patients. “This was an area where technology could solve the problem.” 

Hu launched CarePort Health in 2012 and, in the last five years, her company has been acquired twice — by healthcare IT firm Allscripts in 2016 and health care software maker WellSky in December. CarePort’s latest acquisition was for $1.35 billion and terms of the earlier deal were not publicly disclosed. 

Hu told Insider how entrepreneurs can successfully position their companies to be acquired. 

Commit to serving your customers from Day 1 — even when weighing an acquisition

It doesn’t hurt to dream big, but don’t start a business with the intention of getting acquired, Hu said. “Starting a company is like getting married, in the type of commitment you’re making,” she added. “It’s very odd to think there’s going to be some expiration date.” 

Focus instead on building a company that serves for your customers, Hu recommends. Holding onto your love of the business, its clients, and the problem you’re trying to solve will open more opportunities down the road. 

When weighing an acquisition, choose what’s best for the business, Hu said. Entrepreneurs should ask themselves, would a new owner benefit my customers and be strategic for the company? 

Discussions about CarePort’s first acquisition with Allscripts started when Hu heard customers were using both platforms for their care management. Clients asked if it was possible to integrate the systems so they didn’t have to upload the same information and documents twice.

When Hu started integration discussions with Allscripts, she wasn’t considering an acquisition: She was trying to ease a pain point for customers and see if a partnership would be strategic for her business. 

“I saw that there were so many benefits for our customers in bringing the two products together,” Hu said. “Ultimately, it was going to help us win the market.” 

Do your homework on the company that wants to acquire you

Once the possibility of an acquisition is on the table, entrepreneurs should learn what they can about their future partner, Hu said. Start by getting to know the people you’d be working with, what those individuals think of your product, and your strategy, she added. Those factors will be important in the future success of the partnership. 

Additionally, look into whether the company cultures will jive and if the two teams will work well together, Hu said. “You’ve got to do that reverse diligence if you’re intent on figuring out if this is the right home for your company,” she said. “You have to want to work with the people who are buying you.”  

How to determine a fair acquisition price

When determining your sale price, consider factors such as demand for your business, how much money you’ve raised, what your company booked in revenue, and number of customers, Hu said. Those factors will command a certain price. 

While venture-backed companies may have added pressure to net certain returns, Hu suggests all entrepreneurs consult their board of advisors when establishing a price range. They’ll guide you on other elements to consider when striking a price. 

Prepare for an adjustment period following the deal 

After the deal is done, brace for a period of ambiguity as the two companies merge and find a new working relationship, Hu said. Prepare your team for that uncertainty and know it’s a normal part of the process, she added. 

“It’s a little bit of a leap of faith in terms of whether it’s going to work out or not,” Hu said. “You have to trust that this is the right thing for the customers and your team.” 

Source: Read Full Article