Q&A: Dan Cane on applying lessons on entrepreneurship to past and present

Dan Cane is among the entrepreneurs who are blazing the trail for startups across South Florida, scaling his health technology company Modernizing Medicine into its eighth year and plans for more than 1,000 staffers.

 

In spite of his success, however, Cane remembers well the early days of ModMed, which was founded in Boynton Beach before planting roots at the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

To this day, he carries the lessons of those early days, applying them to the present just as he would have to a fledgling venture.

On taking the plunge into a new business venture:“I was so naive and at the same time so ambitious and filled with vision of what [Modernizing Medicine] could be that as we encountered the realities of trying to build a company – scaling the software, incorporating the business, handling the accounting and finance – each of those seemed like a challenge but not an obstacle to success.”

On the challenges of startup life:“[In the early days] we wouldn’t make payroll repeatedly, or a product wouldn’t launch correctly or something was so successful that it would fall apart because it couldn’t handle volume and it would break. It certainly happened here at ModMed. … But … because the customers had so much hope, we pulled through and survived those periods.”

On keeping employees onboard during hard times:“It’s transparency. At ModMed, every first Friday of every month, the whole company will get together and we will talk not just about the good but about the difficulties – scaling software, the growing pains of expanding.

“In earlier days, people would know when the cash crunch was tight and that the time of our next fundraising round was a ways away. It’s a tough conversation but if it feels like everyone is in it together, it’s a smoother process.”

On persistence:“Everyone will assume that after an IPO it gets easier to raise funds. It does not. More doors open to entertain the conversation, but you get no guarantees. Even when we had a little revenue in the early days, when we presented to investors, we would very often not make it through the screening. Even local groups very nicely said, ‘No, thank you.’ I can’t guess at why, but we’d hear, ‘It’s a crowded market. You need more capital. You got hit by lightning – it can’t strike again.’ But I couldn’t spend time focusing on the ‘no’s.’”

On optimism and perspective:“There are people … that are haters of Modernizing Medicine and think this is a bubble and that this expansion is being forced upon us by the government. You need to know these people are there but don’t dwell.”

“I will have a great day at work, be surrounded by media, the governor, the mayor. But then I come home and it’s, ‘Yeah, Dan, that’s great. The dog needs to be walked and the trash needs to be taken out.’ Not that I need to be reminded of this, but I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.”

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