Denver-based Convercent helps companies bring their values, policies and regulatory compliance activities together with a positive employee engagement experience to create thriving, risk-averse businesses.
CEO Patrick Quinlan has been quite the Energizer battery of the startup community lately, from speaking at the opening luncheon during Denver Startup Week to sitting down with the Wall Street Journal. Luckily, he had some spare time to give us a tour of the new office- led by the company three-legged dog.
Background on Convercent (in case you are still in the dark)
Convercent was founded in January when Business Controls, Inc. combined with Nebbiolo Ventures. Convercent’s solution provides an integrated suite for managing company policies, tracking employee education and streamlining case management. The result is predictive intelligence that allows compliance officers to mitigate risk and do benchmarking within their organization, said CEO Patrick Quinlan. “What we focus on is the reporting and the business intelligence, so that a compliance officer understands ‘how is my business doing’ versus ‘how do I think it’s doing.’”
A Company Actually Rooted in Values, not "Values"
While Convercent’s solution addresses specific compliance and governance issues, one quarter of the product is focused on values. “We believe that compliance is a combination of culture and governance,” Quinlan said. “It can’t just be ‘what you’re supposed to do.’”
With the rise of smartphones and social media, it has become easier for consumers to hold companies accountable. That’s why it’s so important for companies to start with a value and then make sure the product follows that value. Quinlan cites Patagonia and Whole Foods as examples of very successful companies that started with their values first. “With Whole Foods, you know the product you’re buying matches a belief system and a health goal that matters to you.”
The challenge of managing a rapidly growing global work force can lead to all kinds of trouble for companies. The textile industry is a great example: If a company signs a contract with a vendor to produce clothing for them, and that vendor decides to outsource that work to someone else, it often happens without the primary company’s knowledge or permission. “Hopefully technology can help companies keep track of what’s happening as their product moves through the supply chain,” Quinlan said.
Although Quinlan led two Denver-based companies prior to joining Convercent, with both positions he only spent about 20 percent of his time based in Denver. Over the last two years, he said he’s finally been able to focus on becoming a part of the Denver startup community. He’s building relationships, asking for input and ideas, and having great conversations with other CEOs and the local technology community as a whole. This integration has allowed him to see the potential impact that a community and mentor can have on an emerging entrepreneur- thus he has begun being an active mentor to DPS students.
Convercent is becoming involved with the community is through its intern program, which is not just for college students. “We’re really focused on bringing in high school kids who have tremendous upside,” Quinlan said. “They just need to be taken seriously and given an opportunity.” Diversity is another focus for Convercent. Through the intern program, and as they continue to build their team, the company is actively focusing on women and minorities--people who might not traditionally be part of the tech community. “There is a group of young women--and hopefully young minorities--who are starting to see this is a place they can safely learn and grow professionally,” said Quinlan. He pointed out that he’s seen many rooms that are “90 percent white guys,” and the intimidation of walking into that room can keep some talented people away from the tech sector.
Denver Driven: Focus on the Mountain Peaks not the Valley
With Colorado’s ecosystem of innovative companies and extraordinary collaboration, Quinlan believes the single most important thing Denver needs to do is to NOT strive to be the next Silicon Valley. “What we have here in Denver is unique,” he said. “Rather than try to become ‘Silicon Mountain’ or whatever, we should focus on being Colorado.” As a point of migration from all over the United States, the area brings in people with a wide variety of different backgrounds and ways of thinking. The people who decide to pick up and move here tend to have a fiery, pioneering attitude, he added. “We’re a place with hardworking, honest, innovative pioneers, and we need to create our own culture.”
“What concerns me about the tech space is that I think you start to get a lot of groupthink, where we’re creating products for ourselves and selling to ourselves,” he said. “At some point, there’s a limited consumer base. I think we need to broaden our thinking and figure out how we’re going to address not only all of the American consumers but all of the global consumers.”