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Tech start up success: focus on relationships first, then technology

Michael Pliskin and a group of colleagues set out several years ago on a mission. Their goal was to improve quality, increase access, boost efficiency and lower costs in the fast evolving world of health care.

Their tenacity, creativity and hard work led to MedM, a software engineering company that specializes in mobile patient monitoring and medical device connectivity software. The company serves customers in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

MedM allows its customers to focus on what they do best, whether that be services, clinical outcomes or hardware.

MedM products include Patient and Caregiver Apps and the MedM Hub, an industry-first, affordable cellular-enabled, home health hub. Industry experts say health care needs these kinds of innovations to meet the complex challenges of the 21st Century.

Pliskin has been fascinated by technology all his life. He earned a Master of Computer Science degree from Russia’s prestigious Saint Petersburg State University in 2004. His hands-on software engineering skills include C++, JavaScript, mobile apps and system administration.

“I normally wear many hats inside the organization: technical team leader, customer success executive, part-time human resource executive and many others,” Pliskin says. “I strongly believe in integration and synergy, and my core focus is stellar team performance at any cost. I am building relations, and relations and people are what make technology work, not the other way around.”

Before starting MedM, Pliskin was technical director and project and account manager of Saint Petersburg based Lanit-Tercom Inc., a leading producer of software and hardware solutions. There, he led a 70-plus person division that focused on launching new projects and signing up new customers.

“Experience matters, but ability to learn matters more,” Pliskin says. “I keep learning every day. I am an early adopter when it comes to technology and a laggard when it is about hype.”

Pliskin says he likes taking risks, “but well-calculated ones. I make my team learn from mistakes, not suffer from them.”

Pliskin says one of the most important lessons he learned after founding MedM was about how to choose the right kind of business partner. Early on, the company linked up with a partner that “tried to exploit us,” he recalls.  “It was a bad partnership and that was a mistake. We started to do more due diligence on our partners.”

Today MedM has about 15 employees and generates approximately $300,000 in annual revenues.

Pliskin says one of MedM’s biggest challenges has been receiving timely payments from customers. To overcome that challenge, MedM turned to C2FO, which solved MedM’s problem by dynamically shortening the time between invoice approval and the payment date (payment term).

“I am very happy with C2FO, which has had a tremendous impact on our company’s capital needs,” Pliskin says. “We need money to fund R&D and we don’t want to use our line of credit. Since we are a company with a long production cycle, faster payments enable us to better control our cash flow. Getting paid faster has allowed us to work with major vendors without burning our reserves.”

Pliskin says MedM’s primary future goal is to “land more customers,” and he feels confident that his company’s relationship with C2FO will help make that happen.

Based on the insights he has learned from his success, Pliskin’s advice to budding startups is, “set up your goals, work hard. From a financial perspective, innovative relationships help a lot.”