We talked to Kamen Nikolov, CEO of EDIFabric about how they build the legendary EDI translator and validator for NET and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kamen Nikolov: Thank you for asking. We are all trying to stay positive and keep ourselves occupied. Juggling working from home and homeschooling can be challenging but also a gratifying and insightful experience. I learned so much from my 9-year-old daughter.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded EdiFabric.
Kamen Nikolov: Building software has been my passion since the days of my childhood. I was fascinated by the idea of creating something useful from nothing. The definition of “useful” has changed multiple times during my life span; however, the fascination never budged.
EdiFabric was born to help developers, and thus indirectly the businesses that employ them, to quickly adopt the legacy data formats (EDI) used in 75% of the global trade. EDI is also the prevalent data format used in healthcare and is the foundation for patient records’ digitalization.
EdiFabric has assisted more than 450 customers across 50 countries to optimize their B2B channels and unified all major healthcare data formats into one to speed and improve the cooperation and data exchange between healthcare institutions.
My background is in mathematics and software engineering, and I hold an M.Sc. in mathematics from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski.
How does EdiFabric innovate?
Kamen Nikolov: The information infrastructure for all key industries such as banking, supply chain, transportation, insurance, and healthcare was created in the 60s and the 70s of the twentieth century. The reality is that it hasn’t fundamentally moved since then. The popular statement “don’t change it if it works” offers some explanation for the reasons.
The term “digital transformation” was coined to describe the general strive to overcome this outdated legacy. In EdiFabric, we like to think of ourselves as a part of that revolution.
Our approach, however, was to innovate gradually; after all, there is a reason why legacy software is still ubiquitous. Our products do not aim to substitute any of the proven and battle-tested standards or patterns but instead offer modern tooling around them.
In other words, we modernize the implementation of the existing and established principles and interconnections between business partners.
Over 70% of all the features in our products are based on customers’ recommendations and requests.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kamen Nikolov: We have been working remotely for years, so there was minimal disruption to our working processes in that respect. We saw a gradual decline in sales and demand throughout the second half of 2020. The world was on pause, and many projects were put on the backburner.
At the same time, there was an increase in digitalization, establishing new sales channels, and reorganizing the existing supply chains. All of which resulted in 2020 being our best year for the business to date.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kamen Nikolov: Fortunately, not that many. The essence of our products is to adapt legacy software and formats to work with modern technologies. Therefore, our core business is to adapt, and we were quick to reorganize our pipeline to offer more relevant and cost-effective solutions for B2B and healthcare.
We learned that innovation and delighted customers go hand in hand, and not to “rest on your laurels.”
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Kamen Nikolov: I genuinely believe in being open. Withholding or postponing important information from team members “for their good and the good of the business”, usually bites you back. Sharing is not only for when things are going well, and we are more likely to navigate out of predicaments if we are honest amongst ourselves.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kamen Nikolov: The key to staying relevant in a niche business like software tools for EDI is never to stop innovating and delight your customers. I believe that communication is two way and that we can only be successful when our customers are successful.
Your final thoughts?
Kamen Nikolov: It is an exciting time to work in tech because an essential difference between the current COVID pandemic and the pandemics of the past is the internet. Imagine if we couldn’t work, connect and socialize, or share our final thoughts in popular blogs. It’s hard to fathom.
It is also a very indulging time because offering innovative and cost-effective solutions to new and age-old problems is our only way forward.