I Built A $792K/Year Software Development Company [For The Healthcare Industry]

Published: April 3rd, 2022
Dan Prince
Founder, illumisoft
from Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, USA
started February 2017
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Dan Prince, and I am the founder of illumisoft, a software development company specializing in cloud migration, web applications, business solutions, and data management.

I am a life-long technologist and technology entrepreneur, starting my first tech company in 1993. I have always taken a pragmatic approach to technology, opting for simplicity over perfection, people over processes, and communication over documentation. I believe in continual improvement, both personally and in business. As a futurist, I strongly believe that with technology, we can significantly increase the average human’s lifespan.

Regarding illumisoft, as a leading software development company, we are always evolving to best serve the healthcare industry. In 2020, the initial year of the pandemic, our annual revenue was $842k, and in 2021 our annual revenue was $785k. As for 2022, we are trending upwards and look forward to having one of our best performance years yet.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I started illumisoft because I truly loved technology to create new and innovative solutions. I realized some time ago that one of the main reasons many technical projects fail is that business people often don't understand technology, and most technical people don't understand business.

At illumisoft, we've engineered our client interaction specifically to bridge that gap. We ensure that any project we take on is successful because we make it our responsibility to understand your situation and the reasons behind your requests. Only once we can accurately state back to you exactly what you're trying to do and why you're trying to do it are we able to choose the right technology and architect the solution that best meets your expectations.

As of today, we have done about 42 projects worth over $10M. Our projects have helped 30 different clients and changed the lives of 100's of thousands of children and families of children with diabetes and other diseases.

We have had ZERO failed projects, although we were not able to complete one due to a shrinking budget and cost overruns. We have 100% 5-star reviews.


Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Illumisoft started with a bang. We started with about a $3 million project, 10 developers, and two project managers. That's all we did for the first year and a half. When that project ended suddenly, we were relatively broke for about a year, and then we landed some deals.

Our first big project integrated Amazon, eBay, and a few other warehouse management systems, so we hired two developers and one project manager. It was a system that allowed vendors to do fulfillment using non-amazon or non-e-bay warehouses. We completed about 75% of the project when the client had a financial event that prevented him from completing it.

However, after project one, we immediately got three more projects handed over to us, so we quickly hired more developers and project managers for our team. Since then, we have been climbing gradually with a couple of steep dips.

The services that illumisoft provides are described as software development services. People hire us to help them build solutions that they then take over and manage going forward.

Often, they have an internal development team, but they don’t have the necessary experience to architect modern solutions using modern technology. They hope that if I provide a codebase, I can teach their developers how to maintain it.

In my experience with supporting entrepreneurial efforts in this area, I would say the three main steps that you need to take to build a strong community of users and subscribers would include building a strong brand that aligns with your intended audience, making sure that your software is easy to use and easy to understand, and being consistent in never taking advantage of your subscriber base by marketing to them and upselling to them ad nauseam.

Describe the process of launching the business.

In early 2014, I was allowed to help someone in dire need, the CEO of an early startup by the name of Unidoor Enterprises, who had hired a technology agency to produce a prototype of a software system. After several months without any evidence of progress, he wanted me to help him determine if he should continue that relationship. He wanted me to do an assessment, and of course, he wanted to pay me for my time.

My initial response was to turn him down. I didn't need another job. I had a good job already as a software development manager over several teams at Epiq Systems in Kansas City. But over the next several weeks, he contacted me several more times, asking and then finally pleading with me to help him.

I gave in and agreed, but only because of his desperation. I said I would help him, but I wasn't going to charge him because I didn't want the hassle of billing and taxes. I just wanted to give him a quick favor and then go on with my life.

After a preliminary audit of the agency situation, I determined that they would not be able to provide the system. I reported the same back to the Unidoor CEO with regret about the situation. But then I saw hopelessness in his eyes. The owner had invested a lot of money, and the lack of software was keeping them from moving forward.

If the CEO couldn't deliver on his part, it would be a huge issue for the entire company. So, again, I gave in and told him I would see what I could do. Within a month, I had hired a handful of developers and was busily creating the software for Unidoor.

Learn everything that you can learn. Understand that people are flawed and that you have to accept them for their contribution rather than their proximity to your ideal.

When I first started illumisoft, we were not a purpose-driven company. My only goal at that time was simply to stay in business and to do so, we aimed to provide our services to anyone and everyone that needed them. I didn’t even know what a purpose-driven company was, but I knew I could help any business reduce costs and increase efficiency by modernizing its processes with technology and intelligence.

A couple of years into it, we completed a project that helped a local hospital do diabetes research, and we learned something very valuable.

After the project, we learned that the results of the work that we had done were going to benefit hundreds of thousands of children with type one diabetes who live longer, happier, healthier lives. The joy I felt personally provided such a great level of satisfaction that simply reducing business costs paled in comparison. Knowing that our work helped so many people was a real-life changing experience.

Since that day, we have revamped illumisoft and turned our focus on providing services only within healthcare and healthcare research companies. We realized that it’s not enough to build good solutions; it’s not enough to delight our clients; We want to provide a benefit to the world, or it’s just not worth doing.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Time and time again, we have had clients take projects away from other vendors and give them to us. We hope to be able to repeat this pattern of delivery so that we can also repeat the pattern of exponential growth, ultimately expanding beyond Kansas City to every research hospital in the US and abroad.

Word of mouth has been key to our business growth. Then, towards the end of 2020, we brought on a digital marketing agency, Axle Eight Boutique Digital Marketing Agency, to tighten up illumisoft PR efforts, social media, email, backlink building, paid media advertising, and SEO-driven content on our website. We were hesitant to hire an external marketing team at first but formed a phenomenal relationship with them over the past year and a half and still work with them to this day.

I take a lot of pride in the fact that my company, as a result of the people within it, is about as modern as you can get. We are a 100% remote company that focuses on high-quality customer service as the utmost priority in any client relationship. We mean it. We would rather provide good customer service than make a profit and are willing to make sacrifices to ensure that our clients get what they want and what they need.

Each member of our team values hard work, intelligence, and a drive to be the best that we can be for our clients. At illumisoft, our mission is to provide the healthcare industry with a technology partner that helps them make the technology changes necessary to provide the best healthcare results possible. Our vision is to make technology work out of healthcare work. We’ll do the tech stuff that enables you to do healthcare at your best.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

These days things are going well. Through those hard times, we learned that customer service was more important than anything else. Given the situation, we have focused our efforts on providing the best customer service possible. We understand that the greatest hurdle, the most monumental impact on a project, is understanding what the client is asking for.

Most companies ask their prospective client what they want, and then they go and build it. What we’ve found is that what the client asks for and what they want are often not the same thing. The difference can be the difference between a delighted client and an unhappy one. We are thankful that we turned the corner.

Now, we pride ourselves on being the most ignorant person in the room. We ask the questions that should be asked even when, and especially when we think we know the answer. You would be surprised how many times we ask the question with the obvious answer and find out that what we thought the answer would be isn’t the case at all. We have also found that when you find these differences in what you think, the obvious answer is that it usually changes everything else.

The next big change in the healthcare industry is overabundant remote health. The word telehealth is already antiquated. We're not doing anything over the telephone. We have smart devices, internet-enabled devices, and cellular devices galore. All of this allows us to communicate electronically far more than any telephone would ever allow us to do.

We have now provided so many different solutions that integrate smart technology into medical research studies or remote health solutions that we consider ourselves experts in integrating wearables and other remote health devices to the point that we have started our own remote health company called 1SRCE. We haven’t officially released our product yet, but we are accepting advisory board members and doing demos for people now.

Being centered around helping others is why we at illumisoft have focused our services on the healthcare industry. We realized at some point several years ago that building great solutions feels good, and delighting our clients feels great. But, building great solutions that delight our clients and then realizing you've helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world live happier, healthier lives feels noble, heroic, and worth it.

I'd like to think we implement technology on the cutting edge because the biggest leverage you can get on technology is found in newer things. The truth is that our challenge is that you can't adopt every technology as soon as it comes out. Our approach is to balance adopting technologies with letting other people vet them first.

When we go into a hospital and talk to a client, we find out their most critical needs, and then we match the technology to best suit their needs. Sometimes that’s a newer technology that hasn’t been proven enough. If we use technology that hasn't been proven thoroughly, we will also add additional components to the solution that allow us to overcome that risk. With cloud development, you can throw a lot of different solutions into the mix at one time to make sure that you have covered all of the bases of a robust solution.

We see Illumisoft becoming the go-to custom solution provider for hospitals, private practices, and research centers across the United States. Eventually, we will spread worldwide. We have already seen a consistent, incremental increase in our growth, and we expect that to continue at an exponential rate. Additionally, we plan to become a product company and combine that with our service offerings. We have several product ideas in the works, and we have a couple of products already built that we are beginning to market now.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Building a business is not without challenges. I was given an ultimatum at work, and I wound up quitting that job in May of 2015 after a year of working on Unidoor’s project on the side. In June of 2015, Unidoor pulled the plug on the project.

My income suddenly dried up. I knew I could’ve gotten my job back, but at that same time, it made me feel a bit guilty. The reason was that one of my sons was working hard trying to grow his business and struggling with it. He wasn't throwing in the towel, and as I pondered what to do next, I felt obligated, as a father, to take advantage of this opportunity to build my own business in support of him growing his.

Another time, in early 2018, we had found a considerable number of new clients and new projects and were humming right along. We had hired 20 people when suddenly, most of our work was either completed or canceled within a short time.

We found ourselves unable to make payroll more than once, and as a result, we let everyone but 3 people go. It was a very dark time. I considered throwing in the towel and even looked for a CIO position for a few weeks. But, it dawned on me that I still had clients that needed their projects finished, so we continued to work. We changed our model from onshore developers to offshore, from rapid turnaround time to scheduling projects a bit further out, and we made it through.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Our most used tools are Office 365, QuickBooks, and Harvest.

As a 100% remote company now, Zoom calls have become our best friends. We also rely heavily on Slack for both internal communications as well as with our external marketing team, Axle Eight.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I am an avid reader. I’ve read hundreds of books in the last 10 years, and many of those have significantly impacted my way of thinking and viewing life. Most recently, though, I would say that the book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb opened my eyes to the notion that nothing is either one thing or another. What I mean by that is this: there are very few binaries in the world. Many things are simplified by looking at them in binary terms, and it’s easy to begin to think things are binary, but most of the time, they aren’t.

Take gender, for example. Until the last couple of decades, people were universally taught that there were two genders, male and female. But we are all aware now that a fair number of people are born with anatomy that doesn’t fall cleanly into one of the two default genders. Other examples might include daytime or nighttime, happy or sad, love or hate, good or bad, etc. Nothing is binary; we’ve just chosen to accept things that way and have trained our brains to use it as a mechanism to help us make determinations and decisions more rapidly. Thanks to having read this book,

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I've got a lot of advice for emerging leaders, but it does depend on their situation to a certain extent. If I had to give blanket advice, I would say read, and read constantly. Learn everything that you can learn. Understand that people are flawed and that you have to accept them for their contribution rather than their proximity to your ideal. Operate your life out of a place of love for other people. I truly believe that.

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