October 15, 2015

AltusCampus: Accelerator grad delivers online continuing medical education courses

A Q&A with Daniel G. Guerra Jr., CEO, AltusCampus 

Q: Tell us about your company, AltusCampus.

A: Founded in December 2013, AltusCampus’ online platform provides continuing medical education courses to healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities. For healthcare professionals, AltusCampus enables individuals to meet and track license requirements. For healthcare facilities, AltusCampus protects billing reimbursement eligibility by tracking their workforce’s compliance with license requirements. AltusCampus is a Madison-based, Wisconsin C-corp. AltusCampus currently licenses their platform to 61 healthcare licensees.

Q: Can you describe your experience going through the gener8tor program and how it may have helped you grow as an entrepreneur?

A: gener8tor was an amazing experience! Although I personally had been an entrepreneur for many years, gener8tor gave me the important chance to learn the difference between a lifestyle business and a high-growth business. I was arrogant to think I knew what business had to offer. Looking back, I realize how much I didn’t know and how much I’ve learned. Learning the skills to grow and run a high-growth business and making it investment-ready is a completely different skill set. The gener8tor team was great; they helped us refine our business model, product offering, etc. 

I think many entrepreneurs feel that by taking suggestions on products and their business model that they are losing their idea, and their business. But in working with an accelerator program like gener8tor that has an investment in your business, they really have no intention of you losing the idea. Their goal is to help you refine the product and business model to make it investable. The goals are in alignment, which is important. 

Q: Can you describe your experience trying to raise your initial funding round in the Madison Region? Where you able to raise all of the money locally?

A: Difficult. Difficult. Difficult. Of the $800k we have raised or committed, less than $100,000 came from the Madison/Dane County area. State wide, we have only raised about $400,000 from Wisconsin investors. A significant amount of our investment has come from outside the state (in Minnesota, Illinois and California). Many of the out-of-state investors have also asked us to relocate our operation as well, not as a condition of financing but to be helpful in providing more access to resources.

We’ve given our pitch to more than 80 investment groups (in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis) this year as part of the gener8tor program. What sets gener8tor apart from every other business development program is that they are not only committed to helping an entrepreneur improve their business, but they also get you ready to pitch. They help you on the slide deck, the presentation, and effective tactics for talking with investors. 

While it’s difficult for start-ups to raise funds here, I do hold out hope. Investors interested in start-up/early stage investing should be participating in accelerators like gener8tor. We need more accelerator programs that have real world investment funding. In addition to the accelerators working with start-ups, they will also work with new investors to help them set expectations for start-up/early stage investing. The magic for growing our region is in access to capital! 

Q: What about the Madison Region has allowed your company to be successful here?

A: Pam Christensen from Madison Gas & Electric. Because of Pam’s participation in the mentor swarm for gener8tor companies, she was able to connect with Marshfield Clinic to develop a partnership with AltusCampus and the UW-Madison School of Medicine to help us with content licensing for AltusCampus.

We received a $150,000 working capital loan from Madison Development Corporation. In addition to connections like these, local economic support is what gets us to the next level! Thank you Pam and MDC for being local champions!  

Q: Do you have any advice you would like to share with other local entrepreneurs looking to follow in your footsteps?

A: You will get a lot of no’s and even more lip service. Look into the mirror every morning and tell yourself you’re going to do something most people can’t. Raising capital is hard; be persistent!