Trio of Mercer Island residents launch iPhone apps, new Web sites
By ELIZABETH CELMS
Mercer Island Reporter Contributor
April 28, 2010 · Updated 2:00 PM
Nic Peterson, David Jennings and Neil Chasan all have one thing in common: they’re not afraid to take the entrepreneurial leap. All three tech-savvy Islanders have launched new, electronic-based ventures. Chasan has developed an iPhone app for back pain, while partners Jennings and Peterson founded the online company eVenues, which helps people find fast and affordable meeting spaces in the region.
The office for www.eVenues.com, which went live last summer, is located in the Mercer Island business district. According to co-founder Jennings, eVenues “is just like Expedia, but it’s for any space — board rooms, training rooms, smaller event space or even desk space.”
The company’s mission is to connect people who want short-term, inexpensive meeting space with suitable venues for their event. It benefits both sides: the person looking for space and the person looking to rent.
“The owners of venues post their availability for a customer to see. We are the middle man. We sit in between the venues and the customers. We do all the payment processing,” Jennings said.
Asked how the business was going, the co-owner said things really started to pick up in December.
“It’s a chicken and egg service. You’ve got to have contacts when people come to shop, and then once you do, it just grows,” he said, adding that eVenues stands out in that its rentals are temporary. “We don’t speak to long lease guys. We want people to rethink how they traditionally rent. A lot of people rent with a long-term notion, but that’s not necessarily what renters want.”
Jennings emphasized that satisfying a customer’s immediate need for space in a fast and hassle-free manner is the ultimate goal of eVenues.
“Our hope and vision is that we can pave the way to getting people to realize that there should be a destination Web site where you can shop for space,” he said.
So far, the small company has three full-time employees and four contractors. eVenues takes 13 percent of each transaction and has an advertising model in the works. The co-owners predict eVenues will start to make profit in two to three years.
Another tech-savvy businessman is Chasan. The Island resident’s first priority, however, is his physical therapy patients. And this is why Chasan, who works at Sports Reaction Center in Bellevue, has developed Pain Free Back, a $5 iPhone app for people suffering back pain.
“I get a lot of people asking me for video demonstrations of exercises for all sorts of injuries. I’ve always thought of different ways to make this information accessible. When I first saw the iPhone, I realized it had terrific potential to deliver,” he said.
Chasan, a licensed physical therapist of 28 years, hopes to launch Pain Free Back as the first of several apps put out by Smart Health Software.
The Islander is currently submitting his business proposal to Apple and hopes the software will sell internationally.
“We’re a new company to Apple, and Pain Free Back includes 600 pages of code. It’s a complicated program and could take Apple a couple of weeks to approve,” Chasan said, adding that the product may not be available for a few months.
But he is certain that the demand is out there.
“The reality is, eight out of 10 people have back pain. There’s a lot of mythology out there about exercises for the back. Pain Free Back is an instant way to disseminate the right information to a broad range of people,” Chasan said.
Like most apps, Pain Free Back is remarkably easy to use. iPhone owners who purchase the service can turn to it any time they feel pain. The application takes users through a series of simple questions and movement tests, determining their problem as they go. Pain Free Back then feeds this information into an algorithm that creates a customized exercise program to relieve the user’s specific program. Video clips demonstrating how to perform the exercises are available, and change according to the user’s gradual improvements.
“You can look online and find back pain remedies, but they don’t take you through the [rehabilitation process],” he said, adding that Pain Free Back recognizes when users need to see a doctor. “This application also brings up the red flags. In that case, it asks you not to use the program but to see a doctor because it suggests something more serious is going on.”
Chasan wrote and developed all of Pain Free Back’s questions and exercises, using “30 years of experience.” His Smart Health Software team includes several developers, designers and videographers. Chasan hopes that Pain Free Back will be the first of many health-oriented apps, yet he was reluctant to mention specific programs.
“My expertise is the muscular skeletal system, so we’re going to focus on this system initially,” he said.
The entrepreneur has already received positive feedback on his model; both from patients and fellow doctors.
“The physicians I met with are really keen on the idea,” he said, adding that Pain Free Back is the first app of its kind. “I’ve not found anything like this. We’re very excited.”
Once on the market, Pain Free Back will be available for download through iTunes.