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HEALTH-CARE STARTUP RAISES $4.5 MILLION FROM VCs, INCLUDING FORMER PUBLIX CEO

Aiming to create another thriving health-care technology company in Palm Beach County, a Palm Beach Gardens startup has raised $4.5 million in venture capital.

Bridge Connector announced the funding Tuesday. The company’s “integration platform” helps hospitals, doctors offices, nursing homes and labs share information more easily.

“We’re really trying to change the way health care communicates,” said David Wenger, founder and chief executive of Bridge Connector.

Bridge Connector had just seven workers earlier this year and already has grown to 25 employees, Wenger said. He hopes to generate $1 million in revenue in 2018.

The firm’s growth potential attracted the attention of Axioma Ventures, a Tampa-based investment firm backed by Howard Jenkins, the former chief executive of Publix Supermarkets.

Dr. Jeffrey Wenger, a Palm Beach County gastroenterologist and father of founder David Wenger, also is one of the investors. David Wenger, 30, said he was inspired to start Bridge Connector after hearing his father describe the labor-intensive process of handling patient records.

Bridge Connector charges $500 to $3,000 a month for its services, Wenger said.

Launching a new company in South Florida poses its challenges. Despite state and local investments of more than $750 million in Scripps Florida and Max Planck Florida, both in Jupiter, venture capital remains scarce.

“It was not easy finding investors when you’re based in Florida,” Wenger said. “People look at as if it’s not a tech hub.”

Wenger, a Palm Beach County native who attended The Benjamin School, has a more charitable view.

“It’s paradise,” he says. “Why would you leave?”

Other tech entrepreneurs have managed to thrive in Palm Beach County. In one example particularly instructive to Wenger, Modernizing Medicine of Boca Raton last year raise $231 million from investorsThe company said last summer that it planned to hire 800 workers.

While Florida routinely gets low marks for its tech economy, Modernizing Medicine founder Daniel Cane said investors will back successful companies, no matter where they’re located.

“Money will follow talent,” Cane said in a 2017 interview. “Once you start generating revenue, it’s easy to find capital.”

Bridge Connector, for its part, said it will use the $4.5 million in funding to hire developers, support and sales employees and managers.

The company is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens and also has offices in Tennessee.

 

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