Time has a funny way of seemingly standing still all while flying by at the speed of light. It feels unbelievable that it has already been two years since we first launched EasySteps! Ann and I often laugh (with tears) about how things began and we'd love to share our story of EasySteps' remarkable journey.
Many of you already know that Ann is my aunt. Although she is my aunt, Ann is barely older than me, so we grew up together playing barbie dolls and watched I Dream of Jeanie and Gilligan's Island together. Ann was always better at computers than me and she even taught me how to play Donkey Kong on Atari. We've always been extremely close. When I had the crazy idea to go back to school for my doctorate in Occupational Therapy, Ann was the first person to encourage me to go for it.
Before EasySteps, Ann worked as an accountant for years and later started and co-owned several walk-in Medical Clinics in south Louisiana. One of her primary duties was establishing and operating all the clinics' billing departments. If you've ever talked to me and Ann, you know immediately that Ann is the "brainy" one and definitely a computer guru with any Apple product. Her background, paired with my knowledge of early intervention, created the "perfect storm"' for the EasySteps app!
The idea of EasySteps (our "Idea-versary") was born on April 12, 2018. Two weeks earlier, I shattered my right wrist, making handwriting my EarlySteps notes painful and difficult. Every time I had to re-write the same redundant information, I groaned! I was talking with Ann on the phone and complaining about writing and re-writing all the same information on daily and monthly notes. I'll never forget when she said "we can make an app for that." I'd ask her if we could make the app do this and that. She'd say, "sure, we can make it do this" and "we can make it do that." So, off to work we went!
People usually assume that we hired someone to develop the EasySteps app for us. After all, that is what most people do. We considered hiring a developer, but we finally decided "Why not, we can figure it out!" After a week of banging our heads against a brick wall trying to develop on a Microsoft platform, we realized Apple platforms are more user-friendly with a fresher look. We switched gears, and fate (plus a deadline) led us to a platform called Filemaker, an Apple subsidiary that boasts creating an app from scratch in 60 days. Surely, our app would only be 6-10 layouts (web pages) total and we could create EasySteps faster than 60 days. We decided we could do it in 30 days! Easy peasy!
To add fuel to the fire, by April 25th, we had a list of 15 EarlySteps providers who were willing to try our new app, and we announced they would be ready to start by May 15th. Meanwhile, we never slept! Neither of us had any experience with Apple software development and we had to learn everything. I didn't even know what a database is! To learn how to design, script, code and create 'relationships,' we watch hundreds of hours of YouTube videos. We actually watched one YouTuber named Guy so much that we named our logo guy, "Guy" after him! During our spare time, I wrote papers for OTD school (I started OTD school on May 7th), and Ann proofread everything for me. We had no time to waste.
We talked on the phone 20 hours a day and worked non-stop, often forgetting to eat! And honestly, I don't know if I've ever laughed so much or so hard as I did in those early EasySteps days. Being extremely good with numbers, Ann quickly learned how to script and code while I designed (made things look pretty). Ann became a talented developer, and I created the logo, LLC, official website, learned how to make videos, and did other necessary business tasks. We quickly saw that we both have different strengths and we naturally fell into those roles. By the end of April, we were off to an amazing start! But we didn't quite meet our May 15th deadline. It ended up taking us an extra three days to have EasySteps ready to go. We built a workable app in 36 days!
Of course, in the beginning there were kinks. But our amazing Beta Team stuck with us and gave us suggestions and ideas along the way. The beauty of developing your own app is the ability to make changes quickly, sometimes immediately! And that is exactly what we did. When users suggested features, we added them. From the very beginning, we kept hearing that EasySteps is completely different from anything else anyone had ever seen or tried. Our app truly has a therapist's touch. We even went to a developer's conference in August 2018 (just three months after development), and quickly became known at the conference as "the girls who built an EHR in less than 45 days!" We were like rockstars at the conference (LOL)!
Over the last two years, the EasySteps app has grown from just an idea for daily and monthly notes to over 400 layouts, complete with full documentation and billing capabilities! As we grow, we continuously implement even more features that make EasySteps easier, faster, and more comprehensive. We strive to accomplish our main goal of eliminating redundancy and helping early interventionists complete notes and billing quick and easy so they can focus on what's important ~ their clients and families.
EasySteps definitely feels like our "baby" and we still are amazed at all the cool ideas we receive from therapists. Every time someone calls with a great idea, we call it the "genius idea of the day" and get to work on it instantly! We absolutely love when we hear from our "EasySteppers" and many of you feel like close friends and family. We talk to many of you (sometimes for hours) and laugh together and brainstorm app and therapy ideas.
As I write it all down, I am stunned to realize all the things we have learned and accomplished in two short years: app development and design, website creation, social media marketing, email marketing, screen casting for YouTube videos, blogging, petition writing and advocacy, conference and webinar presentations, and customer service and billing expertise. Whew! It sounds like a lot, but when you start a new business, I have learned that you have to be willing to act on an idea and learn and master new skills to make the idea become a reality.
Thank you to to all of our original Beta Team members and to everyone who has joined EasySteps during these past couple of years. EasySteps wouldn't be what it is today without each of you. We are excited for the future!
Christie Wroten, OTD, LOTR