A local tech firm is poised to double its work force over the next two years through a partnership with a company specializing in web-based medical records for physicians.
Nuesoft Technologies Inc. grew out of an incubator program at Georgia Tech during the dot com era, becoming the first “cloud-based” provider of medical software programs in 1999. But when the dot com bubble burst a couple of years later, Nuesoft almost got taken down with the tidal wave of bankruptcies that rippled through the marketplace.
Its fortunes turned back up, though, after a move to Marietta in 2003.
“Marietta brought us good luck,” said Massoud Alibakhsh, an Iranian immigrant who founded Nuesoft in 1993.
“We’ve been growing since then at 18 to 20 percent per year. We’ve grown organically,” he said. “We’ve stayed out of the capital markets, until now.”
The deal with San Francisco-based Practice Fusion will help ratchet up growth.
While Nuesoft’s software works to automate “back-office” operations such as billing and working with insurance companies, the California-based company focuses on programs that doctors can use to automate the scheduling of patient appointments, patient medical records and other “front-office” operations. Better yet, it’s funded by online ads and so it is offered as a free service to doctors.
“Now our product becomes an integrated component that can seamlessly integrate the doctor’s office,” Alibakhsh said from New York on Friday as he found a few minutes between meetings with potential investors. “This new partner has over 100,000 users. With our anticipated growth over the next two years we’re looking at doubling the size of our staff and raising $20 million in capital.”
That would be quite a jolt for a company whose best recent revenue performance has been “a little over $10 million,” according to Alibakhsh.
“I just came from Boston and right now I’m in New York, meeting with private equity firms that have already contacted us,” he said.
In the next few weeks he’ll be in California.
“It’s interesting I haven’t had any discussions with any equity firms in Atlanta,” he said. “They’re not as quick as the ones on the West Coast or the Northeast.”
A teen with a dream
Alibakhsh came to the United States when he was 17, just before the Iranian revolution broke out in 1979.
“I was always interested in technology, and I wound up studying engineering,” he said.
For a young Iranian back then, that meant he would come to the United States to study.
He studied at Southern Polytechnic State University and then later moved on to Georgia Tech, where he studied and worked in a supercomputer lab. Those were the heady early days of what was then called the “information super highway,” when super computers were being strung together to create a far-reaching network — what later came to be called an “Internet.”
“We were getting money from Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program. Some of that money went to Tech,” Alibakhsh recalled. “We were doing research on super computing in our lab and I was working there as a systems engineer.”
He was energized by the ideas being kindled, one opening more possibilities and leading to another.
“Some of us had this idea that it would be a great platform for deploying applications, but we were ahead of our time, because what took off first among the public was basic sales operations, just pushing text and picture-based applications,” he said. “The tools of the trade didn’t even exist for modern apps. We had to build all that ourselves in 1999.”
Nuesoft, with corporate offices on Terrell Mill Road near the intersection of Powers Ferry Road, now employs about 140 people. Most of its growth since 2003 has been funded by Alibakhsh himself and what is known as “angel money” from friends, friends of family and “select professionals.”
Alibakhsh said he owes a lot of his success to Cobb County.
“I came on my own as a student at Georgia Tech, and attended Southern Poly as well. A lot of the practical stuff I learned at Southern Poly, whereas Tech was more theory. When I went there it was just a couple of trailers and it was officially a division of Georgia Tech. Those were great days. I learned a lot.”
And now his company, Nuesoft, is a big supporter of Southern Poly.
“We sponsor their soccer team,” he said.
‘Obamacare’ as ‘stimulus’
Another driver of growth for Alibakhsh’s company could be the looming “Obamacare,” which goes fully into effect in 2014.
“It’s actually created a lot of demand, created a lot of interest in one way, in terms of the need for automation,” he said. “It’s added some confusion too, but it’s created a lot of excitement in the market place in terms of automation. Part of Obamacare is they pay physicians to automate their records.”
He said the federal government is issuing grants up to $40,000 to help some practices get their patient records automated.
“So in that way it’s been a bit of a stimulus in the market. But the problem with it is it’s addressing the wrong end of the problem, the real problem is the complexity of the reimbursement process,” he said.
That’s where Nuesoft comes in.
“That’s what we are focused on, automating that process,” Alibakhsh said. “That’s killing the physician, especially the small to medium sized practice. The big organizations can afford to spend half a million setting up these systems. That’s where the cloud model is helping us. We build our own data centers and automation and then try to shoot it to as many physicians as possible, as opposed to building these expensive systems in the back of their offices.”