2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Nowledge Healthcare, Indiana University (Kelley)

Nowledge Healthcare

Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business Kelley Direct Online MBA

Industry: Healthcare

Founding Student Name(s): Brad Reardon

Brief Description of Solution: Nowledge Healthcare is a healthcare analytics company dedicated to revolutionizing hospital workflows through automation and streamlined processes. We harness the power of advanced AI and machine learning to enhance hospital operations and reduce human errors. Our unique strategy integrates a bespoke consulting methodology with turnkey technologies, potentially saving hospitals up to $66 million. Our technology aggregates current siloed data, performs real-time analysis, and provides timely alerts to clinicians and staff, facilitating crucial decision-making and optimizing hospital operations.

Funding Dollars: Bootstrapped

What led you to launch this venture? The motivation behind launching Nowledge Healthcare stems from a profound personal experience. While working at Kaiser Permanente, my team and I improved emergency c-section workflows, reducing the crucial time from call to “baby out” by 3 minutes, a change that proved life-saving when my own son was born via emergency c-section with an APGAR score of 1 and was unresponsive. The additional 3 minutes allowed his care team to resuscitate him successfully. Witnessing first-hand the immense impact minor improvements can have in healthcare, I founded Nowledge Healthcare with the mission to identify and optimize workflows in hospitals, aiming to improve patient outcomes.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Honestly, I am most proud of our ability to have remained bootstrapped to this point.  The leadership team has truly bought into our idea.  In previous years, an AI startup in healthcare could have seen a premium for an idea. We have truly built from the ground up and we remain in control of our future. Our leadership team understands that while we have been able to fund our current growth, that won’t always be the case. Our ability to retain both control and still fund our current operations is a testament to the team we’ve put together.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company and how did you solve it? The most significant challenge in establishing our company was bridging the gap between our mission to improve patient care and the financial focus of decision-makers within large healthcare organizations. Initially, there was a struggle to convey the value of our solutions, which led to self-doubt. However, after conducting extensive research, collaborating with peers, and seeking input from professors at IU, we adjusted our value proposition and our understanding of our solution to better align with the financial needs of decision-makers. This shift in approach has led to significant traction within the industry and increased interest from potential customers.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? My MBA program at IU’s Kelley School of Business has been instrumental in advancing our startup venture. The primary draw to the program was its top-ranking position in research. As a B2B healthcare company, obtaining accurate, real-world data on hospital operations proved to be challenging. Even during my tenure at a healthcare organization like Kaiser Permanente, certain operational details were not widely accessible. The presence of a school and professors deeply committed to research was a compelling factor for me. Collaborating with these professors, while formulating business plans and strategizing, allowed us to uncover elusive value and impact within our industry. This research-intensive approach enabled us to quantify tangible financial benefits in our solutions, facilitating candid discussions with both CFOs and the Chief Nursing Officers we had engaged with previously.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? When I first moved to Oregon, I met and worked for Bryan and Steve Sims the founders of brass|Media, Inc. Upon joining brass, I encountered a dedicated team that was driven by a shared goal of doing good while also achieving business success. Their emphasis on creating something valuable while maintaining profitability has remained a guiding principle throughout my career. This ethos played a pivotal role in my commitment to improving healthcare and fostering innovation during my time at Kaiser Permanente, eventually leading to a breakthrough that saved my son’s life. The example set by my peers and leaders at brass|Media, Inc. instilled in me the belief that entrepreneurship can be a means to make a positive impact, in contrast to the self-centered portrayals often seen in movies like “The Social Network” or “Jobs.”

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Dr. Kuratko’s Venture Challenge is an invaluable class. Over the past six months, my team and I have been actively participating in pitching competitions across a myriad of settings. Throughout this journey, we’ve encountered a range of feedback, from the deafening silence of poorly delivered pitches to enthusiastic affirmation of our problem statement and idea – and everything in between. However, it is in Dr. Kuratko’s Venture Challenge that we have received some of the most specific and actionable feedback.

This class compelled us to delve significantly deeper into the intricacies of our venture and structure our thinking in a way that is essential for its growth. In the early stages of entrepreneurship, it’s easy to become enamored with the idea and lose sight of the path to achieving our goals. Dr. Kuratko’s class forced us to take a highly structured approach to building our venture, setting it up for success. While it is possible to succeed without this class, it enabled our team to establish a comprehensive foundation it that has significantly bolstered our reputation in the eyes of both customers and investors alike.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why?  My answer to this question feels weird in that the professor’s class had little, if anything, to do with my startup at the time, but Will Geoghegan made the most profound contribution to my startup. I took Will’s strategy class when I was deep in the trough of sorrow. Despite his class not being directly related to my startup at the time, Will’s feedback enhanced my strategic thinking.  However, what makes Will special is his willingness to interact outside the classroom. Whether it was a few minutes before class or a casual conversation off campus, Will demonstrates a genuine concern for my well-being as a person and as a student.

He provided tough but constructive feedback on assignments and consistently uplifted my spirits. He made it abundantly clear that I possessed the potential to achieve something remarkable. While his class undoubtedly helped me adopt a new strategic outlook for my venture, what has been even more valuable is the support he offered in pulling me out of the depths of despair that many founders find themselves in. Will Geoghegan’s guidance and encouragement have proven far more valuable than any grade on a strategic analysis of the healthcare industry could ever be.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? Despite our team being geographically dispersed across the United States, the Indiana startup ecosystem has played a pivotal role in our venture’s development and success. Within this ecosystem, we have discovered significant support and valuable resources. Thought leaders in the healthcare sector, such as Dr. Michael Mirro, have served as a sounding board for our ideas and potential partners in solution development. Entrepreneurial mentors like Steve Franks from Fort Wayne have offered critical insights into our positioning and messaging, aiding us in crafting a compelling and understandable message.

Our team is committed to continuous education and growth. These key resources have provided us with the space to learn and develop while also guiding us and offering invaluable insights and connections that would have taken a considerable amount of time to establish otherwise. While the popular narrative often centers around a few individuals in a garage launching a massive venture, we have been incredibly fortunate to connect with exceptional and generous individuals within the Indiana startup community, and we look forward to maintaining these connections as we progress.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? My long-term goal with my startup is to demonstrate that even within the intricate and often convoluted landscape of hospital-based healthcare, there exists the potential to implement a data-driven approach to rapidly improve patient care. Healthcare is renowned for its risk aversion and slow pace of innovation, and Nowledge is designed to empower and expedite improvement initiatives. While the primary objective is to make a substantial impact on patient care, the prospect of acquisition or an IPO would be a welcome addition to Nowledge’s overarching goals.

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