This is a continuation of Part I, published on Tuesday, of the interview with Patrick A. Clyne, co-founder and V.P., Director of Development with MacPractice.
Patrick A. Clyne
TMO: Sounds like you were off and running for good.
PAC: Not quite.
Within weeks of starting MacPractice, I received the first letter from WebMD accusing me of stealing the source code that I had developed for them and that my new software looked like just what I built for them before. The problem was we had only been in business for a few weeks, so no product existed. Additionally, what was developed was never shown to anyone, not even Mark. I hired a good lawyer who sent them a letter asking them what our software looks like since nobody has ever seen it.
WebMD dropped the subject.
Not long after the first letter, I received a second letter claiming I stole the client list and was marketing to their clients. Our winning response was that Mark brought on board the same sales people that sold the clients MediMac and ChiroMac in the first place, so we did not need the sales list. That ended that.
Just when I thought I heard enough from WebMD, they made a final threat. They accused me of using a program they owned to develop electronic claim packages. Little did they know my brother-in-law sold the same program to another company who I also worked for. I had legal rights to the application in question.
Finally, after three attempts to put me out of business, I found out it was my brother-in-law behind the WebMD letters. He was a WebMD stock holder from selling them MediMac and ChiroMac and demanded they do something to put me out of business. He figured the only way he was going to succeed was for me to fail.
To make a long story short, on April 30, 2007 HealthWare closed its doors and WebMD ended up closing the MacHealth division since they lost all their customers to MacPractice. My reward: WebMD closed its doors too and gave me all the office furniture.
I did lose a sister over the ordeal, but that was her decision and I can live with it.
TMO: I've gotten to know Mark Hollis over the past few years as well. He sends us those incredible press releases. What has it been like working with Mark?
PAC: Mark was the top sales person for HCC, so I had known him for a long time. For years Mark drove me crazy at HCC, always coming up with ideas and solutions. I would run and hide from him when he was in town. It was the woman who fired me at WebMD who suggested I talk with Mark about starting a company. I called Mark, and I think it took him all of one second to say "Yes! Let's go for it!" ... and that started MacPractice. Mark turned out to be the best business partner anyone could ask for. I don’t run and hide anymore -- he has fantastic ideas!
TMO: What were the key design and customer service issues that led to your success?
PAC: The new design was a total win for MacPractice. I came up with the original idea and then used the ideas of Apple's software experts to fine tune it. The design was simple -- I wanted it to look just like one of Apple's products, so I modeled it after iTunes and iPhoto.
Practice Management Software is all about customer support and service, so the first employees we hired, in addition to engineers, were support staff. We put all our money into developing software and supporting clients and spent nothing on marketing. Being in the basement without huge expenses was also a contributing factor in our success in starting MacPractice.
Our competition made claims that we were not a real company because we were in a basement and they had 6,000 sq. ft. office space. Hey, didn't Apple start in a garage?
After a few months running MacPractice in my basement, somebody turned us in for running a business out of our house in a residential neighborhood. That's a no-no. Even now, I have no clue as to who did it. But it turned out to be a good thing. Back then, we had enough clients and income to move into a 3,500 sq ft. office space in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. We recently moved into a 12,000 sq ft. space with room to grow to 100 employees.
TMO: A development project like this requires a lot of partnership with Apple's Developer Relations. How has it been working with Apple?
PAC: I have been developing for the Apple computer since 1981. In 1984, I got serious when I purchased a Lisa computer to create DentalMac. By the time I started programming the Lisa I was so involved with Apple and their products nothing really mattered. They could have kicked sand in my face, and it wouldn't have bothered me. Apple development was a huge part of my life and they did not kick sand in my face -- they helped me when I needed help. I own a huge part of my success to Apple, its products and employees.
I recall going to Apple headquarters multiple times learning from the courses they offered, talking to engineers ... and getting into trouble.
Long before a color Macintosh was released, I had seen one at Apple's Headquarters. We were on tour of the place, and I peeked around partitions and saw a color Mac splashing color all over the screen. [The Macintosh II.] I was pulled away from viewing and was told "Never tell anyone about this! You did not see it." I never mentioned a word until it was released because I wanted to remain an Apple developer.
TMO: What key Apple technologies do you leverage from? Do they give you a competitive advantage?
PAC: We use many of Apple's technologies today. Back in the old days, nothing existed so we had to create our own. Today we have choices of technologies to choose from making development simpler and faster. Core Image, as an example, makes it faster for us to develop software giving us graphic tools we don’t need to create -- just use. I don't know enough about the PC market to know if the technologies have a competitive advantage, but Apple's sure help in developing fast, stable products.
It took almost eight years to implement all the features in DentalMac and MediMac. On the other hand, we had most of those features and a few others completed in MacPractice in about two years thanks to Apple's development tools and technologies.
TMO: What do you do differently than the competition?
One product I know of is created by a dentist. I’m not a dentist, I’m a programmer, so I use all our clients' input to create our software. I can say that as a company we have grown to 52 employees with over a dozen engineers on board and dozens of sales people scattered all over the country and other countries as well. We created an infrastructure to continue development and have the ability to support thousands of clients. MacDentPro, for example, is where we were over four years ago -- and they started before us.
TMO: If you'd like to, without revealing any secrets, where do you think your company is going? Any buyers in the wings? Or are you having too much fun running your own company -- for a change!
PAC: Our goal is to get all the components in [to MacPractice] that will allow us to compete with every product on the market regardless of platform. Then add new features the competition doesn't have and see where we go from there.
We've already had several offers to purchase MacPractice, but we sent them on their way. Mark and I love what we do and see no reason to sell out.
TMO: Any final thoughts?
PAC: In the end, I did prove to myself and everyone else that I do know how to run a company, a successful one at that. Mark and I, with the help of cell phone walkie-talkies, are able to be partners thousands of miles apart from each other and make major decisions with a simple beep-beep of our phones.
TMO: That was a terrific personal story. Thanks for sharing it with our readers.
Patrick A. Clyne is the co-founder and the Vice President, Director of Development of MacPractice. His bio is available on the MacPractice Team page. Mark Hollis is the President and Director of Customer Relations. MacPractice sells Medical, Dental and Chiropractic practice software exclusively for the Macintosh platform.