Business need sparks creative software innovation

BOTHELL, Wash.–With 17 massage therapists treating hundreds of patients at Bothell Integrated Health, owner B.J. Erkan said his massage therapy clinic was generating a small mountain of paperwork every month.

Therapists used pen and paper to chart their clients’ pain and progress, but then what? Entering the information into a computer database was time-consuming, but not entering the information created huge storage and data retrieval problems.

Enter his good friend and now business partner Boyd Edmondson, a software engineer with more than 20 years’ experience in programming. They sat down for lunch one day in 2013 and by the time lunch was over they had they had the genesis of what would later become the start-up UniLogical and its signature product MoxyDox.

Boyd Edmonson & B. J. Erkan owners of UniLogical

After nearly two years of monumental work, Edmondson and Erkan have created software that allows companies to use templates of their existing paper-based forms and documents to create electronic versions that can instantly be uploaded to a cloud-based server.

Early on, Edmondson said, he remembers thinking, “This is more than a one-off project that can help B.J. with his business; we really have something here. This has a lot of potential.”

Erkan and Edmondson are both committed to making UniLogical and MoxyDox successful, but while Erkan still runs his busy clinic, Edmondson cashed out on his retirement and has been living on savings while devoting himself full-time to this project. With the stakes high, the partners realized early on that they needed to talk with experienced business professionals sooner rather than later.

That’s why Edmondson and Erkan were so happy when they learned about the no-cost advising offered by the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Edmondson and Erkan first met with Peter Quist, an SBDC advisor in Everett, but when Quist retired they began meeting with Don Yates, the SBDC advisor in Bellevue. Yates’ work is also supported by OneRedmond and the City of Bellevue.

Both partners felt they needed input from an experienced business professional who could point out potential problems or pitfalls as they moved forward. They got that and more by working with Yates.

“The SBDC has filled in the holes extremely well,” said Erkan, “and the fact that it’s free advising is mind-boggling.”

Edmondson said a pivotal moment in their fledgling company’s history came last spring when they were discussing pricing strategies.

Erkan and Edmondson were explaining their much-discussed decision to go in one particular direction when Yates said, wait a minute, you might want to rethink this, and then explained why. “When we left that meeting I turned to B.J. and said, ‘I think he just saved our company,’” Edmondson said.

Keeping up with it all and not getting overwhelmed or sidetracked is a challenge, but on-going meetings with Yates at the SBDC helps keep them on track, Edmondson said.

“Even businesses that are already in the market place could benefit from their services,” he said. “We have great respect and gratitude for Don Yates and his specific industry knowledge.”

By Hope B. Tinney

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