Square One's Inaugural Client Certintell Takes the Stage at Start-Up Stories
“The Square One Accelerator was an outstanding fit for us, we are at just the right point to work with Mike Colwell and the mentors there,” explains Benjamin Lefever, Founder of Certintell, and the first inductee into the Square One Accelerator’s stable of startups. “We are at a point where we need to expand our customer base and scale our operation, and the Square One Accelerator is a perfect solution set for our needs,” he adds.
Lefever will also be the first Square One Accelerator participant to be featured in the monthly Startup Stories session, appearing in the September edition. Under questioning from Colwell, Executive Director of Square One DSM, as well as the audience, Lefever will share his experiences, now two years into his start-up story, as the principal behind Certintell, a white label telemedicine solution targeting private providers in the mental health realm.
A Drake graduate in Mass Communications with a focus on Advertising Management, Marketing and Economics, this Indiana native spent the next 15 years in health care sales and marketing, working for such industry giants as Eli Lilly and Genentech. “That’s really all I know,” says Lefever of the healthcare industry. A past partnership with the University of Iowa’s emerging telehealth program during one of his sales positions in conjunction with an entrepreneurial recessive gene would lead him to a decision to leave the comforts of corporate life and start a business of his own.
“My father has his own business, started small and grew, and I guess I always knew that I wanted to do the same,” he explains of his decision in 2013 to take the 3 month sabbatical that Genentech provides certain employees to explore their options and develop a business plan. At the end of the three months, the business plan looked too good to put on a shelf and Certintell was born.
Taking a partner who would work remotely and focus on the technical development, Lefever began to carve out Certintell’s niche in a market rapidly heating up. While telemedicine is becoming more ubiquitous and large health care providers are being serviced by large telemedicine platforms, Lefever had identified his market. “There was a gaping hole in the market coverage whereby mental health providers, in particular those in private practice, were underserved by the emerging solutions,” he explains of the process that led him to Certintell’s focus. “Being able to provide them with an affordable HIPAA certified platform was our market opportunity.”
By 2014 they were beta testing with volunteer subscribers, and by January of 2015 they had paying clients. Close on the heels of their initial successes the opportunity to partner with Square One gave Lefever the resources he needed to begin to scale.
Happy to share all manner of his experiences with the September audience, Lefever is certain they will touch on the transition he is now moving through from a wholly bootstrapped endeavor to one in which he describes raising money as a full time job. Additionally he cannot overstate the importance mentors have played in the development of his company, pointing to the steady flow of advisors that pass through Square One as an invaluable resource.
Square One, like its predecessor the BIZ (Business Innovation Zone), provides assistance to businesses in a wide range of stages. For Certintell, with a product on the market and initial clients in tow, scaling is the next stage and Lefever sees an expanding staff, an expanding client base, and eventually an expansion to enterprise opportunities that exist around Employee Assistance Programs as his next steps, a vision he is likely to share with the audience as well.
$15 admission fee (includes lunch) or free (if you don’t want lunch).
Networking and Lunch 11:30 a.m.
Presentation starts at noon
Sept. 16, 2015
Ruan II, 601 Locust
Conference Room 101
Contact us at info@squareoneDSM.com for more information.
Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact Square One DSM for details.
Contact: Mike Colwell, Square One DSM, (515) 259-0380, mike@squareoneDSM.com
About Square One DSM
Square One DSM’s mission is to connect entrepreneurial needs with qualified community and state resources and to provide guided professional and business direction. Square One DSM helps entrepreneurs maximize their successes by helping them navigate resources, strengthen knowledge, improve skills, form strategic alliances and secure proper capitalization.