Mentored episode 4: Dolmarie Méndez

Abartys Health is disrupting the healthcare industry by streamlining data communications within providers, insurers and the patients. Led by two women entrepreneurs, on this episode Sebastián speaks with CEO and founder Dolmarie Méndez about this P18’s Gen.2 company.

Dolmarie: I’m a born and raised Puerto Rican. I’ve been in health insurance industry for 15 years, which had helps us accelerate everything a little bit. That definitely is one of the essentials in entrepreneurship. It can’t be an idea of something that you don’t know about. You have to be an expert that is now dedicate and lead your business

What is Abartys Health

Abartys was born from the necessity and the crisis, particularly here in Puerto Rico. Abartys is dedicated to harmonize health data between all the sectors that have to communicate. It is clinical data between healthcare providers, that’s hospital, labs, clinics; payers, that the insurance; and, obviously, the patients. With a change in regulations, patients are supposed to control their data 100%

The reality is that not all the tools are in the market. It’s what’s supposed to happen after a decent period of time. A new market is opening up because the market was not focused on the patients but the health providers and insurance instead. Now the users have to have control over their clinical information. That opens up the market and us to direct competitors; so we’re at a very interesting stage.

What Abartys does

The data is picked up in its original form from the health services. That’s the data and language Abartys handles because it’s standardized in 99% of the countries, which means our technology has global reach.

There’s different software around the world. In our case it doesn’t make a difference because the language we use is global, the data collection process is not affected. Maybe there’s a difference of protocol, but the process is not affected.

This empowers the patient and everyone and generates transparency From the moment the person enters that medical office, the process should be automated. But it is process that takes a lot of time, many countries are not ready for that change yet.

One of our goals is to balance and provide the tools to those sectors that need. We have to come in and solve many internal issues, that way they won’t have any excuses

About the current stage of the company

The reality is that after P18, there’s that moment where you either go left or right and we made the right choice. After we were done everything changed positively. We raised almost 1.5 million in private capital in PR, under our current economic situation [A record in Puerto Rico]

Abartys currently has six clients. Puerto Rico is becoming our minority client because we started with the process of exporting to Latin America and the United States. We’re under act 20 and we should be finalizing 73 soon. Currently we’re situated in Galeria San Patricio, we’re 18 employees total and we’re growing organically

We gotta move to that management recruitment to continue evolving and raise even more capital. This has been constant two years in development, our technology has been in the market for 15 months.

The reality is that we don’t have a sales force. It’s between me, Lauren and, our newest acquisition, Mimi. Our best sales force is our clients. The reality is that everything is a strategy

On the importance of education

Education is number one. It doesn’t matter what business you run, you have to be educated. You have to be educated on the area. And if you’re going to educate yourself, you have to educate yourself to be the best. It’s not about being pedantic, it’s because you have to compete in the market, you have to understand what’s out there and how you’re going to differentiate yourself.

Pilot is the best way to close a business and give a taste of your product to see and understand its benefits and its need. We provided free pilots and in our case since we were bootstrapped, so we had to make sacrifices.

Show that you’re a necessity not a luxury. We’re not in a goodie market. It’s cost effective solutions that help operations, so you have to prove that to your client, otherwise you’re losing time and money And you have that client that you want to fall in love with your product, see it on a daily basis, be a part of their core system, make their operations more effective

Pilot is the best way to close a business and give a taste of your product to see and understand its benefits and its need. We provided free pilots and in our case since we were bootstrapped, so we had to make sacrifices.

On providing free pilots

You gotta see the strategy. You can say, let’s make a pilot for 6–9 months

You already guarantee the cost from the beginning by the end of the pilot it becomes a part of their process. We always say that they need to taste it for a while and see the results from the beginning. After there’s a conversion to the contract based on the guarantees stipulated at the beginning

Nothing is free in this life. It’s important because lo barato sale caro. If you know your technology and you know the value of the technology, you know the client will pay for it

That period is a process and it helps you improve your product. You have to use that to enrich your product.

You also need intellectual property agreements. There has to be legal advice. It’s high risk not have those warranties. In our area it’s critical because it’s healthcare and federal regulation

[Legal] is our highest expense. And if you have money well invested in your startup it has to be in legal area. You have to protect yourself from everything you’re promising, it’s not legal if you promise a process and don’t deliver. Lawyers are specialized in very different areas, you have to research. It could be very expensive at the beginning but there are ways to handle.

If you know your technology and you know the value of the technology, you know the client will pay for it

On the women founder experience

Women have to more strategic it’s easy to get depressed, to be unmotivated at the beginning of this journey. Even with all the feminists movement, there’s a prejudice against women. It’s the reality. But if you‘re clear that you’ll run into these situations, you’ll be ready to face them.

We’re still asked who is our boss. Once that person sees that you’re an expert, it’s the best way to get respect: by showing you’re a leader and knowledgeable of your product and the market.

Women have to work twice as hard as men. Women sometimes avoid having a family because they don’t want to take time away from their business

Women sometimes tell us [Dolmarie & Lauren] “I’ll avoid having a family because I won’t have time for that.” That’s completely false.

Alana is four months old now. She was born while we were raising capital. It’s possible.

The investors were clear from the beginning, and they were relaxed. With the clients and prospective clients, it worried me in some meetings outside of Puerto Rico, because I had to figure out their reactions. It made some of the process easier, it was an ice breaker in some conversations. It was fun during the process.

Women have to be realists. We have to stop the frustrations and take advantage of that.

In the case of women founders, there advantages. Since we fall under minority, we have availability to federal funds and other aids. Inside the disadvantages, there are advantages and we need to use it them.

Alana is four months old now. She was born while we were raising capital.

To the women entrepreneurs in the making

Do not sacrifice not having a family for a business. It’s all about having a balance, because if you plan a lot, you won’t be an entrepreneur nor have a family. Look at your strategy it’s manageable.

Take all that negativity and turn it into positivity. It was very funny at the beginning, people said “if you can achieve that, i’ll buy it!” because it was impossible to them. We took everything they said couldn’t be done, and made it into our product…and that was ‘impossible.’

Your team and co-founders are essential, you have to find somebody better or that has what you don’t have. [Lauren and I] are polar opposites, it’s hilarious.

A message to Puerto Rico entrepreneurs

A lot of people believe that the tax benefits, the PRIDCO benefits are not puerto ricans, there are a lot of helps but you gotta knock doors. You have to make friends everywhere, people that want to help and are happy to have entrepreneurs, but you have to reach out first. And once you get that first one, more will come. But you have to reach out first.

Recommendations

BOOK: Modern Monopolies, if you want to learn about logistics, it’s excellent.

Other books: Influence People and Good Strategy, Bad Strategy. I read a lot of psychology books about how to influence personalities, understand behaviors and learn about emotional intelligence. Sometimes we have meetings with tech, finance and sales and when you see the combinations, you wonder about to combined, it’ll make it easier if you want to close the business. Whoever ends up with your product has to shine too, it is part of their performance. You have to make them shine, that’s the most important person

Re-watch this episode here. Don’t miss P18’s Mentored every Friday at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live

*Answers have been translated and edited for clarity.

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