At Microsoft BizSpark, we are dedicated to showcasing startups that impress us with how they try to change old industries and business habits. We use this blog to showcase their business views and the work they have done to solve critical problems. We offer a forum for this in our regular series of Microsoft BizSpark Featured Startups. Today's startup was selected for the work it is doing for humanity. ABPathfinder is an application that helps therapists and educators cut down on the time spent being administrators and devote more of their time and focus on helping kids with learning disabilities. ABPathfinder is fully backed on Azure.
BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company.
Kelly Kerns: I’m Kelly M. Kerns, co-founder and COO/Chief Architect of ABPathfinder.
BizSpark: What is your company’s mission?
Kelly Kerns: ABPathfinder’s mission is to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder live more social lives. By providing simple, effective software tools to support ABA-based therapy, we hope to contribute to the advancement of children with autism in meeting their full potential.
BizSpark: In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
Kelly Kerns: Autism Therapy Management Software by ABPathfinder helps therapists and educators cut admin time, improve control and focus more on kids.
BizSpark: Tell us about your Azure based solution.
Kelly Kerns: ABPathfinder’s software is deployed and accessed in the Azure cloud. It is fully HIPAA and FERPA compliant, providing secure data storage services for therapy centers and school districts across the US. The software is designed to be accessed anywhere you can reach the Internet and on any web-enabled device, including Windows phones, iPhones, Android phones, tablets, etc.
Kelly M. Kerns, Co-founder and COO/Chief Architect of ABPathfinder
BizSpark: How is Azure implemented in your solution?
Kelly Kerns: We’re using Azure VMs and storage as the backbone architecture for our solution. The Azure storage provides us an opportunity to provide each client with a secure document vault, allowing them to manage sensitive therapy data about their clients. Centralized storage of client files allows therapists to access documents anywhere they can access the Internet, including their therapy center, client homes, schools, etc. It also provides them with a disaster recovery mechanism by giving them easily accessible off-site storage of their client records.
BizSpark: How did you get excited about Azure?
Kelly Kerns: We started working with the Startup Team at Microsoft, and they showed us how Azure could be used to facilitate centralized storage and the linkage of documents to therapy sessions without the need for FTP servers or BLOB storage within a SQL database. It allowed us to offload the storage burden from SQL to a platform optimized for the task.
BizSpark: What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
Kelly Kerns: Azure Virtual Machines allowed us to seamlessly integrate with our deployment model while providing a world-class hosting solution that is secure and geographically diverse, relieving our administrative burden, reducing the staff needed to support deployment of a scalable solution, and reducing our capital hardware investment.
BizSpark: What specific value from are you getting from BizSpark beyond the technology?
Kelly Kerns: We’re currently using BizSpark throughout our business, including SQL server, Exchange, Office and Windows Server applications, reducing our software investment and allowing us to focus our resources on innovation and business development.
BizSpark: What has been your biggest “aha” moment since founding your company?
Kelly Kerns: Entrepreneurship programs like PIPELINE allowed us to connect to a network of individuals and businesses like Microsoft that have increased our motivation and chances of success. That motivation was fueled as soon as our first customers saw the graphs we can produce with our software and began literally “ooh”-ing and “ahh”-ing about our technology and the possibilities for their practices.
BizSpark: What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
Kelly Kerns: Plan architecture specifically for deployment in the cloud. You want to build a specific framework for your cloud application, prototype components for the cloud, benchmark them against an on-premise solution and follow design patterns learned from your prototype. Make the cloud a transparent element of your solution, creating a tiered architecture allowing you to swap data access layers as client delivery demands. Design for resilience in spite of network latency. What if a resource is missing? What will you do? How will you not fail? Assume there will be latency, and be pleased when there’s not.
BizSpark: What is the one thing that you would like readers to take away about your Azure app?
Kelly Kerns: Azure allows us to provide a highly scalable, HIPAA-compliant application that provides therapists access to a one-stop portal with all of the resources necessary to make their practice more efficient and effective. Ultimately, this means that kids with autism will gain skills faster, allowing them to more quickly integrate in society.