There is a bit of the Prodigal Son in the story behind Afia
The Ann Arbor-based firm was founded by two former roommates at the University of Michigan majoring in computer engineering. One went off to Chicago after school while the other stayed in Ann Arbor, working with start-ups.
Jeremy Nelson (start-ups) started volunteering at a homeless shelters, which led to a job at the Washtenaw County Health Department. Christopher Akerley (Chicago) grew tired of doing work for heartless hedge funds and decided to come back to Ann Arbor to be his own boss.
Nelson and Akerley started Afia (Swahili for "health") with the idea making health records for mental health more accessible to agencies and companies providing treatment. They're first customer was Washtenaw County in October of 2007. Well, Afia's best laid plan shifted and morphed, but in a good way.
"We have really turned into a consulting firm," Nelson says.
That means they help mental health agencies and companies select, strategize and implement what type of medical record systems to use. They do this without pride or prejudice toward the product.
"In the medical health field there is not a lot of expertise so they rely on the vendors," Nelson says.
Right now Afia has seven employees and customers mainly in Michigan. It’s looking to expand into other states, like Utah and Louisiana. It hopes to be in five more state within two years while hopefully adding 3-5 new people. Good work for both of these sons of Ann Arbor.
Source: Jeremy Nelson, CEO of Afia
Writer: Jon Zemke