One of the Upstate’s biggest entrepreneurial success stories is ready to begin its next stage of growth, and with it, the expectation of 200 to 300 more jobs over the next 24 to 36 months, almost all of them in Greenville.
With a just-closed funding round of $15 million from a syndicate led by BIP Capital, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm, ChartSpan Medical Technologies is doubling its deployed capital, for a total of $30 million.
Now, new funding in hand, ChartSpan will spend “a majority” of it to embark on a national sales and marketing strategy designed to capture an even larger share of the chronic care management market, said co-founder and CEO Jon-Michial Carter.
Founded in Houston, Texas, ChartSpan chose Greenville for its headquarters in 2013 and soon emerged as the largest managed-service provider affiliated with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) chronic care management program. Currently, ChartSpan offers technology-enabled coordination of care to the patients of 106 health systems and medical practices, most of them in the Southeast.
Working from ChartSpan’s offices at 2 N. Main St., trained clinicians assist patients with such varied needs as contacting a nurse 24/7, refilling prescriptions, accessing medical test results, making appointments, and securing transportation, with clinical data exchanged between ChartSpan’s electronic records platform and those used by hospitals and physicians.
Nationally, ChartSpan is the market leader in the space with “the largest enrolled population in the country” served by about 200 employees, Carter said.
“Last month, there were 61 million Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients, and that is the audience that we serve,” said Carter. “CMS says 72% of them are eligible for the program we run … so 45 million available patients and we have just under 30,000 patients enrolled. So, it’s this blue ocean of opportunity.”
To capitalize on such a wide-open market, Carter sought to build on prior funding rounds in a way that would allow his company to reach mid-sized status rapidly.
Ultimately, Carter chose to partner with BIP Capital, a venture capital investment firm whose focus includes health care IT, enterprise software-as-a-service, and digital media.
Founded in 2007, the firm has invested more than $300 million since inception. Its CEO, Mark Buffington, has led investment rounds in more than 35 companies, with BIP Capital offering both funding and operational recommendations.
In a brief telephone interview, Buffington said South Carolina’s Upstate fits his firm’s focus on “second-tier innovation centers” in geographic areas “not nearly as competitive as a Boston market or a Bay Area.”
“We feel there’s just tons of uncovered opportunities,” Buffington said, citing venture partnerships in place in Minneapolis; Indianapolis; and Columbus, Ohio.
BIP Capital was attracted to ChartSpan in large part due to its early understanding of the chronic care management landscape, said Austin Poole, a senior associate.
“They’d figured out the complex parts of the process, where a lot of other groups that we had looked at were still kind of in that developmental phase, and some of them thought they might have had it figured out, but a closer look said that there might be more steps before they actually got there,” Poole said during a visit to Greenville.
The $15 million deal led by BIP includes syndicate partners Blue Heron Capital of Richmond, Virginia; Bailey Southwell & Co. of Nashville, Tennessee; and Croft & Bender of Atlanta. All four members of the syndicate hold preferred stock equity stakes in ChartSpan.
“Blue Heron is interesting because their entire LP [limited partnership] structure are just former health care executives that have run large enterprise companies,” Carter noted. “So, that was obvious, the attraction for us, and we spent time with them in Richmond, and again, loved the regional focus,” Carter said.
Poole, along with BIP Vice President Sarath Degala, will operate out of Greenville’s NEXT on Main incubator and will collaborate with Carter and other ChartSpan personnel on the company’s growth while also becoming familiar with other businesses in the region.
“We expect to hold office hours, take part in pitch events, mentor entrepreneurs and companies, provide guidance in strategies and funding alternatives as well as hopefully become engrained in the VC infrastructure in the community,” Degala said via email.
John Moore, president and CEO of NEXT, believes BIP Capital’s arrival in the Upstate represents a turning point in the evolution of funding for entrepreneurs.
“One of the biggest things obviously in any ecosystem is building access to capital. … We’ve been working on that for a long time, and to see something like this happen and see BIP’s leadership, first and foremost in the investment in ChartSpan, is tremendous,” Moore said.According to Moore and Carter, BIP’s deepening commitment to the Upstate will provide a flight path to growth funding for a variety of local firms that successfully launched with seed money.
VentureSouth, which now operates 12 angel groups across the Carolinas, provides much of that early stage funding, said Matt Dunbar, one of its three managing directors. The combined group, with 320 active investors, has deployed $36 million for 67 companies since 2008.
Using preliminary data, the Angel Capital Association, a national trade group, just placed VentureSouth among the top 10 angel groups in the country in terms of dollars invested, or $7 million in 22 companies during 2018.“Matt was a resource and in some ways a mentor for me early on,” Carter remarked. “All of these things in Houston, Texas, where we came from, we would’ve got lost and drowned. We wouldn’t have had this kind of support.”
Now, Carter’s company looks set to add significantly more clients, revenues, and jobs.
“Part of what was so compelling for us about ChartSpan as an investment was, not only does it bring efficiency to the whole U.S. health care system, but also the impact that it has on the patients,” said BIP’s Austin Poole.
“Any time you’re positively impacting the end-user in that magnitude, we get excited about that,” he said.