This article is the second, and final, installment telling the story of DoApp, a mobile development company and Rochester's biggest startup story that you didn't know. In part one we discussed how founders Wade Beavers, Joe Sriver, and David Borrillo launched DoApp on a whim in 2008. After spending a year with little direction, the team focused in and developed three portions of the business: a news and broadcast solution, a real estate market solution, and a healthcare solution, called mRemedy. If you missed part one, click here to catch up with the story.
Beavers tried to perform a complicated juggling act, functioning as CEO of both the news and real estate portion of DoApp as well as the active CEO of mRemedy, the health and wellness mobile application solution in partnership with Mayo Clinic.
None of these three were failing, or at least none were failing fast, but the company needed to focus once again to home in on their “DNA” and capitalize on their intellectual assets.
“I think all three would have gained traction, but I think there’s no way you could have focused on all three,” Beavers said.
Thankfully, fate and strategic partnerships helped just a bit.
mRemedy was gaining traction all by itself. In 2010, the care transitions provider Axial Exchange did an asset acquisition of mRemedy, obtaining the knowledge and infrastructure of that portion of the business, while allowing all the employees to remain with DoApp.
With the focus now on the news and real estate portions of the business, both started to take off. In 2012, the DoApp team was looking to exit, or sell the company. Beavers began running a dual process to sell both the news and real estate sides of DoApp to separate companies.
However, fate reared its head again. Near the very end of the due diligence process, the buyer for the news portion of DoApp backed out, while the real estate piece was successfully acquired by the property solutions provider CoreLogic. This mishap resulted in, essentially, the fragmentation of the company. But the most difficult part, Beavers said, was having to dust himself off and start running what was left of the company again.
“So, imagine you’re spending all your time prepping for that piece and now you have to pick up the pieces and go. So that was really hard,” he explained.
Now whittled down from three to just one company, DoApp doubled down on the news solution. They focused only on providing mobile applications and web solutions for broadcast, radio, and news agencies, building out an impressive portfolio. The company grew so much, Beavers said, that he started to stash away money in case the business eventually went south.
Beavers continued to grow DoApp for two full years until another potential partner came forward. In just July of last year this final portion of DoApp was successfully acquired by NEWSCYCLE Solutions, a leading tech provider for global media based in Bloomington, Minn.
As part of the acquisition deal, DoApp remained in Rochester and all the employees will stay on for at least two years after the acquisition.
“A great product goes away if great people go away,” Beavers rationalized.
He said there’s a lot of talent in Rochester and it was important to him to keep these jobs in the area.
“We were doing that for Rochester. …Those are average wage jobs of $90,000 or above, minimum. That’s real money,” he said.
Beavers agreed to stay on as President of Mobile at NEWSCYCLE for at least one year, with all his employees still directly reporting to him. Although that year has passed, he has given no indication of his intent to stay or leave the company. Now with a little bit more time on his hands, he’s begun investing in some other local startups.
One thing that helped Beavers succeed was a perceptive understanding of the “DNA”, or culture, of his company. And not just what he desired for the business’s “DNA”, but really comprehending what his employees valued.
“I think you have to know your character and you have to be true to yourself,” he explained. “You’ve got to be comfortable with yourself and what you are and know that that’s how you’re going to succeed or fail based on those conditions.”
Beavers knows a thing or two about fostering company culture. In his over eight years at DoApp, only one employee has left the business.
Even though the Rochester startup and entrepreneurial community has changed since 2008, Beavers said it’s still in its infancy. He thinks the community in Rochester has to be comfortable with its own “DNA” and understand that unicorns are not going to be built here. But that doesn’t mean the community is lacking in great ideas, sharp talent, or rising potential.
Beavers said while building a business you have to be laser-focused on just the business.
“You have to put everything away and get the thing to the finish line,” he advised.
Now that his own exits are complete, Beavers is looking to give more of his time to the Rochester entrepreneurial community and offer up his advice and unique experience as guidance.
As part of these efforts, the DoApp founding team of Beavers, Joe Sriver, and David Borrillo as well as other key service providers in the community will host an event during Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week to candidly talk about fundraising, acquisitions, pivots, and everything else you want to know about startups but are afraid to ask.
Link up with the team and hear their first-hand account of how they built a startup in Rochester on Wednesday November 15th at 6PM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen. Click here for more information and to register.