Founder’s Story Featuring CaringWire Founder and CEO Michael Sentz
CaringWire is a digital platform that makes healthcare more accessible and manageable for individuals and families. CaringWire delivers solutions through health plans and third-party administrators (TPAs), self-insured employers and athletic institutions.
Michael Sentz developed the vision for CaringWire from first-hand experience witnessing his mother’s difficulties as a primary family caregiver. In 2022, the company pivoted from a family caregiver solution to a SaaS-based, one-stop shop digital health platform designed to increase engagement and access while lowering the total cost of care for payers, providers, and employers.
CaringWire is a story of passion, pivots, and bootstrapping.
Though still in the early part of the journey to building a business of substance, CaringWire is signing up customers, achieving business partnerships with healthcare leaders and national brands, building a culture based on market validation and investing resources in features and talent that drive revenue.
- Building a company is like working a jigsaw puzzle without a picture to guide you. CaringWire started off as a family caregiver solution, essentially a “digital social worker” to help families take care of aging parents. Experience in that segment showed CaringWire that family caregiving was just one piece of a much larger puzzle. Recognizing that healthcare needs and solutions are far more nuanced and complex, pivoted CaringWire to a new business-to-business plan based on creating a consumer experience totally different from the experience today.
“The journey of a company is akin to a piece of clay rolling down a Plinko board. Every rung of the journey shaped us more and more to what we are today—creating experience through technology that simplifies access to care.”
- When your initial corporate vision is a great idea but not big enough to drive an investable company, what do you do? Listen to customers. Study the data. CaringWire saw that early users were using the platform in unexpected ways—as caregivers but also to manage their own healthcare needs. Then, when the pandemic hit and telehealth became part of the virtual care landscape, another market segment opened.
“In a culture of experimentation and data, customers will show you potential use cases you didn’t expect.”
- Reaching early customers: Seek the sweet spot at the intersection of persistence and luck. CaringWire built a solid technical platform and a minimum viable product (MVP). They built a nimble team with the willingness to network, the tenacity to ask for introductions, and the intellectual curiosity to listen to potential customers talk about their pain points. CaringWire asked for referrals, networked, and called on corporate customers for two years before decisions started to break their way.
“It doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t be afraid to ask. Learn from each interaction. Do that 50 or 100 times, and you will figure out how what you are doing is important.”
- Fish swim. Birds fly. Deals fall through. Know the direction you want your company to go. Focus on one step at a time. Don’t let a large customer or the hope of a big contract that doesn’t happen derail you. Don’t go on Instagram and sweat that a competitor raised $5 million. That’s out of your control and kills motivation.
“When it comes to managing energy, have a system of support. Don’t sweat the small stuff that’s out of your control.”