Finding the Pulse
Sue (pictured below, left) and Stephen (pictured below, right) did not start Pulse Australasia together, but through their efforts managed to make a contract with a healthcare provider for a country roughly three times the population of Australia.
Sue started on her journey to found Pulse through psychology and a career across the Australian prison system. She then moved onto other businesses and decided this was not for her, so she started up Pulse, utilising her psychological knowledge of finding out how to bring employees together and bolster their self-worth and business culture as a whole, which she describes as the “first culture check platform to go out globally”.
Stephen started out as a senior military officer involved in the Navy, which led to the Bethanie Group in Western Australia as the CFO and deputy CEO, and then became CEO sometime after. Stephen met Sue, liked what he saw in Pulse, and decided to become involved.
Winning it big
Pulse’s win of the NHS contract happened out of an aged care conference Stephen was speaking at in New Zealand. After talking about what Pulse Australia did, he was approached by Martin Green, CEO of Care England.
“At the end of my presentation, [Martin] came over to both Sue and myself and said, 'That system that you just spoke about that was used by your organisation is needed in England, and if you give me the opportunity, I'm going to talk to a few people in England about this system and see where we go with it from there,'” Stephen says.
From there, Stephen and Sue were introduced to Dennis Bacon, chairman of Norfolk Independent Care, who wanted to establish Pulse’s product into the UK, and resulted to the NHS contracts. Since then, Stephen and Dennis have maintained their business partnership via keeping in contact once a week for the last two years.
How they won this contract comes down to two things:
1. Meet the need with the perfect product
Business owners looking to make a big win also need to ensure their product cannot be found anywhere else; that it is not “same-old same-old”, as Stephen puts it.
“[The product] has to be different. It cannot be the same-old, same-old product. You must have a value proposition that is extremely different from the norm,” Stephen says.
“That's important if you're trying to crack a market like this.”
Sue adds, “In other words, you'd be able to articulate the differences with what you have compared to everyone else.”
2. Network the movers
While you can network with any business owner, it is important that you network with the right person, with the right amount of influence in the industry you want to be in.
“It's about talking to the right people, getting to know the people in the industry, understanding what the industry needs are, making sure what you've got fit for that industry need,” Sue says.
“Like what we've done with Dennis, you've got to find some people over there in that industry, that are influential in that industry, that see value in what you're doing to be able to apply to that industry, country, or whatever that value proposition might be.”
These right people, such as CEOs and chairpersons, are dubbed “movers” by Stephen; people with authority that are looking for an out-of-the box solution to meet their needs.
“You will find the mediator chief executive, they tend to stay with the crowd and not be the first mover,” says Stephen.
“You must identify the first movers, so if you've got the product that is completely different, and you identify the chief executives and chairs that are willing to step outside the box and try something new, you get the first mover advantage.”
Funding the future
While providing for a nation’s health care system has been quite the win for Sue and Stephen, they are not taking this time to rest on their laurels. Currently, the next business target in their sights is looking to grow through capital raising.
“I had a view, as the CEO, that I wanted to fund our organic growth out of our working capital,” Stephen says.
“Contracts we won would then allow us to grow, and we've been doing that. All of our spare working capital has gone into our R&D to develop our products.
“As an SME, you have not got working capital to expend that amount of capital on the development of what is world-class, and therefore, we need to raise capital to get to the next stage.”
If the initial goal of funding the growth of Pulse Australasia was continued entirely through working capital, Stephen says it would take a long time to see any real growth.
Sue agrees, saying that business owners who want to keep their business for their own and not look to investors may see a serious struggle maintaining their cash flow.
“You've got to be able to look at the business objectively and not emotionally,” she adds.
“While it served many of us to grow it organically, and managed the cash flow and manage our growth, it then got to a point where we had a decision to make.
“If we were going to continue that way, we would never have been able to secure the NHS, or to continue with the growth that we needed to achieve to get the expansion and the opportunity that are present at the moment.”
Fast facts: Pulse Australasia
Location: Sydney, Australia
No. of employees: Eight
Customer base: Australia-wide, the UK (through Pulse UK)