By Thea Holtlund Jacobsen Todd Mueller is the founder of a series of companies, including Buena Digital, NurseReferralPro and more recently, Olive. He started out in software as an engineer, working for companies like ProFlowers, Susan G. Komen and Amgen. At the time, one of his goals was to have his own software consulting business, which resulted in the founding of Buena Digital. From there, he worked with healthcare workers, which got him thinking about how he could help other public health agencies in the U.S. Mueller said this is how Olive came to be—through his experience in that domain and his experience creating software.
Olive focuses on case management for public health and social services and is a rebrand from NurseReferralPro. Mueller said they chose to rebrand the company after noticing that not only do nurses benefit from their services, but also other employees within the health sector. The new launch also enables individual contractors and small agencies to use the service through a pay per month model, making the network appropriate for both large corporations and smaller companies. Through Olive, Mueller hopes to make the company more universal and make it easier to remember for clients.
“Olive “ is short for ‘olive branch,’ which is known to be an offer of peace. We hope that our product will help bring peace to both clients and end-users because oftentimes their lives are pretty hectic helping patients. We therefore wanted to develop a product that was easy to use and help healthcare workers bring less work home. That’s how we came up with Olive,” Mueller said.
Mueller partnered with Nancy Leidelmeijer, who has expertise with targeted case management in public health. Through the partnership, Mueller and Leidelmeijer were able to split expertise and funds, leading to what Mueller describes as a good and productive partnership. He has insight on the engineering side of the business, while Leidelmeijer is able to provide domain knowledge.
Olive is offering Case Management Software for public health and social services.
Mueller said it is necessary to keep certain things in mind when founding a business, depending on the industry the startup is trying to enter.
“You need a solid marketing budget to get the word out. These types of enterprise healthcare applications do not go viral through word-of-mouth, so there is a long sales cycle where you have to make many calls and send out emails to get going,” Mueller said.
When looking through the lens of entrepreneurship, Mueller believes it is important to not only go after what is currently doing well, but also look into what current processes can be improved.
“There are many old and broken processes out there that could use some modern software help; for example, to improve cost. That is something I see a lot with younger entrepreneurs who are trying to come up with their own idea. You do not necessarily need to have an original idea. A startup can be founded on an existing idea or product, aiming to make it better or more specialized. There is definitely value there too,” Mueller said.
For now, Mueller said the goal for Olive is to expand and show people what the company is about, capture a bigger market share and give demos. The company structure is unique because all employees are experts in their fields, which is something Mueller believes rings true with the user base. From doing this, Olive hopes to have over 50 customers within the next three years.
Furthermore, Mueller believes entrepreneurship is important to students of all majors. Having the ability to adapt and think critically can be useful in many situations, especially in changing times like the ones the world is currently experiencing.
“In terms of the economy and the way we see things, especially with COVID-19, the ability to pivot and have skills to pull yourself up is important, and I think many entrepreneurs have the ability to adapt to those situations. The path of having a long career with one company is very rare, which makes it even more important to be able to think like an entrepreneur and be open to change,” Mueller said.
Through Olive, Todd Mueller aims to make the lives of healthcare professionals less stressful.
Mueller said that he is certain he made the right choice when deciding to start his own company because he never dreads going into the office. Ever since he started his consulting companies and Olive, he said he is excited every day in terms of looking into how the company is doing.
“I never wake up not excited about working on the product. For me, that lets me know that I made the right choice, and hopefully, everything after that will take care of itself,” Mueller said.
Olive is particularly interesting for Mueller because he knows the market and sees the value in it. Through his engineering background, Mueller has been able to keep the costs low, while building a quality product from bare bones. However, if Mueller could start the process over again, he said he would try to give customers feedback sooner rather than later, even though that can be a challenge when using funds from other sources to pay for your business.
With the current COVID-19 situation, Mueller said talking to people is a challenge because nurses are rightfully focused on dealing with the health crisis. While these are short-term challenges, Mueller is aware they just have to ride out the crisis like everyone else right now. To help with the situation, Mueller will start working to allow users to try out the service for free for 6 months.
“I know our product can help with case management, and because this is a challenge for public healthcare workers and social services right now, we want to help in any way we can,” Mueller said.
Mueller also said Hub101 is a great place for startups, and he tries to go to Hub101 several times a week to work on his business because they offer many great resources for entrepreneurs.
“It is just a great for place for both future and existing entrepreneurs, they offer many great classes and I would recommend anyone to just give it a go and pick up on the good energy,” Mueller said.