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Success Story: Iowa

Mark Snow, John Dore, Dean Conlin, Susan Hinrichs and Terri Caldwell together own LLC (website)(Facebook page). SafelyFiled is the perfect place to organize all important documents online – safely, securely, and simply. SafelyFiled offers free checklists, an invaluable tool that helps families get started and allows them to gather their important documents together.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Terri Caldwell was a Program Manager and Software Engineer with Cisco Systems. As a Program Manager, Terri was responsible for Cisco’s TL9000 and ISO certifications. As a Software Engineer, she was responsible for ensuring various security products within Cisco routers were coded and tested fully to meet the ever-changing security threats on the network.

Terri became involved with SafelyFiled because it fit a very personal need/challenge in her own life when the opportunity came up. Terri is located in Columbus, Indiana, and being the executor of her mother’s estate in Florida, she found that even with modern means of transportation, she could not get there quickly enough to provide important medical or legal documentation, which might be needed if something were to happen.  Now, with SafelyFiled she can provide a digital copy of those records immediately, and know where the original paper copies are located so she can provide those if needed. 

SafelyFiled’s mission is to provide a very secure, yet accessible way for families and small businesses to access, share and record medical and legal records. SafelyFiled now has the ability to store other precious memories such as special family videos and images.  SafelyFiled also strives to provide jobs for people, especially young people looking to gain experience in technical help desk and customer service realm, as well as for those who are a little more “seasoned” who find themselves unemployed because they are over 50.

Terri enjoys the very talented, yet humble SafelyFiled team and the flexibility of working from home.  She feels that the team consists of family minded people who love what they are doing, but also value a great work-life balance that doesn’t get in the way of spending quality time with families.  Terri says, “At SafelyFiled, we work to live, not live to work.”

Sales and promotion are the most challenging parts of running the business because the team members are not experienced salespeople.  The team truly believes in the product/service they’ve built, and they believe a next step for the company is to hire staff that would handle sales. Getting SafelyFiled in front of the right people and groups is also a challenge.  SafelyFiled feels that their product is needed by almost everyone, but usually only those people who have had to deal with closing out the estate of a loved one, or those who are providing caregiving to elderly parents and others, really understand why SafelyFiled and SafelyMD are needed and valuable.  Unfortunately, reaching those people is very difficult with a low budget.

SafelyFiled believes becoming more active on social media has helped get the word out about the business. Another challenge SafelyFiled faces is that sometimes people have a lack of desire to gather, organize and get the documents into SafelyFiled. People love the idea and know it is needed, like insurance and getting taxes done, but it’s very low on the priority ladder.  Because of this, SafelyFiled uses the strategy of working through small businesses likes Estate Planners, Elder Law Attorneys and Professional Organizers.

Mark Snow had the basic concept of SafelyFiled in mind and drafted out in 2010, and he mocked up a website in 2011.  The owners formally started coding the product in June of 2012 and got their first product to market in December 2012. Being open for one year and a half, SafelyFiled is now moving from their start-up stage to the growth stage. To date, SafelyFiled has about 500 users world-wide to include small businesses and medical & financial professionals. Their first small business owner owns a company who has co-workers in New York, Paris and Tokyo.

This encouraged SafelyFiled to build their product so that members with languages other than English could use it. SafelyFiled has home offices in Chicago and Champaign IL, and Columbus IN.  Their goal is to expand operations for a help desk, software testing and account management offices in Columbus in the next year.

When asked what contributions the company has made to the community, Terri cheerfully answered, “Jobs and innovation! To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to provide something that meets a need or excites the public, which is becoming more difficult today because we have so much already.  Innovation is key to finding out what niche isn’t addressed or isn’t addressed to meet the public’s need in the right way.  When you find that and create a way for that to become a business, it leads to excitement in the community and attracts people who can bring a lot more to the table for you in the way of ideas, enhancements and a helping hand.  Many people love to be involved with a new company from the ground floor and being an entrepreneur with a new business makes that possible.”

Terri, who has been a client of the Southeast ISBDC since May 2014, says, “We’ve focused so much to date on getting our company known to the wide world, that I have missed the valuable resources and expertise available to me right here in Columbus via ISBDC. I won’t make that mistake again!”

Laura DeDomenic, Terri’s Southeast ISBDC Business Advisor, says of the business, “SafelyFiled has an innovative and secure application which securely organizes and stores our most important records.  Estate planners, attorneys, doctors, and other medical professionals should encourage families to use SafelyFiled as a repository for storing and managing all of a family’s most important documents in a safe and secure electronic format easily accessible when and where they are needed the most.”

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