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Jax Daily Record Saturday, Jun. 8, 201905:20 AM EST

The rise of Jacksonville tech firm Forcura: "We shot off like a rocket"

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Company founded by Craig Mandeville sets sights on $75 million in revenue.

So, who wants to start a tech company and shoot to $7.1 million in revenue in six years, and probably $12 million in seven?

Craig Mandeville did, and he isn’t stopping there. 

His goal as president and founder of Jacksonville-based Forcura LLC is to reach $75 million in revenue in another 2½ years.

The mission for Forcura – perhaps one hears it as “for a cure” – is to improve patient outcomes and its vision is to become the standard communication platform for all post-acute health care.

In brief, the company manages document workflow and secure communication for post-acute care providers.

Say, for example, mom is discharged from the hospital after heart surgery and home health care professionals immediately need to tend to her recovery and well-being.

The flow of health care information from the hospital to the home and back could be cumbersome, incomplete, slow or confusing.

That’s the connection Forcura makes.

Mandeville said the company was profitable in 11 months, so there wasn’t a need to raise more capital.

“We automated that whole round-trip flow of information,” Mandeville said.

Forcura began in February 2012, when Mandeville was 31. He already had developed and sold a tech-based company since his move to Jacksonville in 1999 from Austin, Texas.

The Forcura idea was sparked by his wife, a home health agency employee who managed patient discharge. 

“She would come home at night and talk about how inefficient that whole process was,” Mandeville said. Patient information would be faxed back and forth with some pages not making it through.

“She’d be driving stuff from her car to the agency,” he said, finding the process “a complete mess.”

Mandeville developed a platform to automate the information flow. He took the prototype to an Orlando conference for post-acute care in October 2012, set up a booth and showed what he called “basically a PowerPoint.”

People told him he was solving a need and ultimately would improve patient care. 

“I really didn’t intend to sell the platform at that show. It was really for feedback,” he said.

But he printed off some contracts and returned to Jacksonville with four signed paying customers.

“That’s really a validation. At that point we knew we had something,” he said. “We shot off like a rocket from there.”

Mandeville explained the concept.

“A lot of our customers, it takes three to five hours to onboard a new patient that’s coming from the hospital and into a post-acute care service like home care, hospice, skilled nursing,” he said.

“Our software automates that and we’re able to provide meaningful information. The clinician has the information they need to ultimately make more informed patient care decisions in the home,” he said.

The next goal is to transition Forcura to an artificial intelligence and data analytics platform. That includes partnerships with other companies in the industry.

“We’ve done a lot of research and proactive strategic partnerships to set us up for really expanding and growing,” he said, with the vision “to become the standardized communication platform for all post-acute health care.”

Forcura is an Inc. 5000 company for its growth, ranking No. 718 in 2018 and No. 574 the year before.

“Today we have 16% of the home health and hospice market that is utilizing our technology,” Mandeville said.

“By the end of this year, we’ll have about 32% of the entire market. That gives you a sense of where we’ve been and the growth.”

Forcura uses the “annual run rate” as its growth goal. That rate, an accounting tool, projects future revenue for the year based on current monthly revenue. Mandeville projects the sales run rate for Forcura to be $20 million this year – and $100 million in two years.

Forcura has 53 employees and anticipates more than 100 employees within the next 12 months.

Stake for employees

Mandeville, 45, owns the majority of the company with two investors that hold a small stake. He also carved out a slice of the company for employees.

Forcura leases 14,500 square feet of space in the Deerwood North office center in Southside. The offices are designed with an open layout that encourages the 53 employees to interact.

“Everyone here has an ownership stake,” Mandeville said. “Part of our culture is we have this entrepreneurial spirit here and with a team having a stake in it, everyone’s focusing on the top line, bottom line and alignment with our goals to exceed them day in, day out.”

Mandeville said the company was profitable in 11 months, so there wasn’t a need to raise more capital.

“We’ve been investing all of that profit back into the company,” he said. That includes hiring the right talent and providing a supportive work environment and benefits.

He said retention is 99 percent, which Forcura Chief Strategy Officer Annie Erstling calls “pretty amazing.”

Erstling said the company’s 15 employees two years ago determined the culture necessary to succeed in an entrepreneurial, high-growth company.

“I think if you talk to people, they feel really committed, which is fun,” she said. “In a really large organization, you can feel like you know what you’re doing, but you don’t necessarily feel like you’re rallying together as a team to pull together.”

She said Forcura has a lot of young employees. “We wanted to figure out how to harness that employee in a way that motivated them,” Erstling said.

“Everything we do is goal driven,” said, with key performance indicator boards around the office and regular sharing of company reports.

She said the transparency, organizational goals and constant communication are helpful.

“We have screens everywhere,” Mandeville said. “That’s posting in real time key performance indicators that all ladder up to the corporate goals, so everyone knows exactly where we are: on track, ahead of schedule or even off track. It’s been really core to us.”

He anticipates more than 100 employees within the next 12 months.

Forcura leases 14,500 square feet of space in the Deerwood North office center in Southside.

Innovate JAX

Mandeville has a vision for Jacksonville, too.

“I want this to be the high-tech innovation hub of the Southeast,” he said.

He wants Forcura to be an economic driver to that goal.

Forcura works with Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida with internships, partnerships and scholarships in hopes not only of supporting innovation but keeping the graduates in town. 

“I want to make sure that the talent stays,” he said.

Mandeville also wants to create a forum that he calls Innovate Jax to bring together the area’s tech ventures and companies to create that area culture.

The first event will be June 27 at Forcura’s offices.

There are large well-known companies – Black Diamond, Black Knight, Florida Blue, CSX Corp., TIAA Bank, Mayo Clinic, Baptist Medical Center and others – deeply involved and dependent on technology innovation.

“Then there’s this small entrepreneurial world, and they don’t really cross over,” Erstling said.

Mandeville and Erstling plan to launch a podcast of monthly interviews with innovation leaders.

Mandeville, who grew up in Texas, was a teenage entrepreneur and graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. He started a business with three partners, of which two were from Jacksonville.

He moved to Jacksonville, sight unseen, and found a little rental off Davis Street in Neptune Beach.

The company was Waste Reduction Consultants Inc. He bought out two partners and then sold to the other.

Waste Reduction Consultants was sold in 2012 to public company CASS Information Systems Inc., which Mandeville said has about 100 employees in Jacksonville.

“I always say the mayor owes me lunch or something because that was the first economic impact that I was a part of here in Jacksonville,” he said.

 

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