February can be tough on Matt Dorman. Twenty-five years ago last month, his sister Barbara was murdered. She was 36. Doctors and investigators said her killer was having a psychotic episode when he stabbed her, and later determined that he was insane. He’d been released from a psychiatric hospital without community-based care late the previous year.
Tragedy can break people. Or make them. In the midst of a successful management career including positions with Lockheed Martin’s e-commerce division and jobs working for Senators Paul Sarbanes and Al Gore, Dorman took a simple approach to his sister’s murder and the rest of his life.
He created a technology company geared around behavioral health. Modern software could help doctors and other medical professionals track patients, and their care. Patients could get better treatment. And maybe, just maybe, fewer families would have to go through a tragedy.
“The concept of taking a bad situation and making sure other people don’t have to go through that through technology made sense to me,” he said. “I had worked in the technology sector, so I kind of thought it made sense or it could make sense anyway.”
Oh, it made sense.
At first, Dorman’s company Credible Behavioral Health was like any other start-up. It was simply a concept, and required long days (and nights), investments and loads of sales pitches. Founded in 2000, it became an industry leader with 500 partner agencies in 38 states and annual revenues exceeding $40 million.
“The first 10 years of the company, we didn’t mention it or talk about it,” he said of his sister’s death and his personal connection to such a business idea. “I didn’t want to capitalize on it, but it was always part of it. Obviously, if it weren’t for what happened I wouldn’t have started the company.”
In 2015, Goldman Sachs came on board with funding. Four years later it was Martis Capital, an investment company specializing in healthcare. In August 2020, Credible merged with Qualifacts to create an even bigger company serving more than 800 behavioral health agencies nationwide.
“We were mission-based, but we had shareholders and the goal was always to increase shareholder value,” Dorman said of Credible’s path. “After a lot of 20-hour days for years, all the sudden we woke up one day and were one of the top three in the industry. When we brought in Goldman Sachs in 2015, that got us to the next level and my plan was to get it to a certain level and then get out.”
And Dorman – who guided his company through the early days of uncertainty, the pressure of finding investors, the growing pains of any start-up all while thinking about his sister – got out.
He’s technically a “strategic advisor” to the new company, now based in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Nashville, Tenn., under the guidance of private equity firms Warburg Pincus and Martis, but the work, headaches, board meetings, client pitches, staffing issues, server platforms and all the other details you can think of (and some you can’t) are somebody else’s responsibility now.
“When you think about it now, millions of lives get affected every single day,” he said. “People get better because of it. It’s a good thing. I miss it sometimes. I don’t miss the long days and some of the uncertainty of the early days, but we did a whole lot of good.”
Dorman grew up going to the races in Maryland, as a fan, with his father Arthur, a state senator and delegate. The Dormans went to Bowie, attended the Preakness, met former Maryland Jockey Club owner Frank De Francis and his son Joe. Owning Thoroughbreds? That might be fun someday.
Someday arrived with the purchase of a small share in Disguise, a claimer trained by Phil Schoenthal, in 2010 and kept on arriving with $643,045 earner Sonny Inspired (named for his father’s nickname) and others racing under the stable name D Hatman Thoroughbreds and/or in partnership with Schoenthal until showing up with the clout of a tech company IPO in 2020.
In about six months, Dorman has assembled Maryland’s best broodmare band, purchased a barn at Fair Hill Training Center and taken steps toward creating a farm in Boyds, Md. What’s more, he’s got a string of valuable 2-year-olds headed toward the races. He calls it Determined Stud, and who could blame him?
And if a chilly morning visiting mares and foals at Sycamore Hall Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., was any indication, Dorman can look forward to brighter Februaries.
“I think she’d enjoy it,” he said of his sister’s opinion of his new venture. “She was probably the least serious of the four of us kids. The rest of us are more driven or more something. She was more happy-go-lucky. She would have had a great time with the horses and all of this.”