Dad’s business evolves with daughter, son-in-law behind the keyboard

iEmergent founder Dennis Hedlund holds his five-year-old daughter Laird.

Frustrated by the lack of forward thinking at a major financial company in Des Moines Dennis Hedlund started his own company – iEmergent – in 2000 as a consulting firm.

He then hired his daughter Laird and two of her college friends as the first employees.

Using data the company began forecasting mortgage analytics to show banks where to best spend their resources. But as the Microsoft Excel spreadsheets grew larger the company tried to figure out a way to communicate the data more easily to their clients.

Fast forward to 2013 and iEmergent partnered with Far Reach, a development and marketing company from Cedar Falls to develop Mortgage Market Smart.

iEmergent Chief Operating Officer Bernard Nossuli describes Mortgage Market Smart as, “Google Maps with a layer of forecasting over the top so you can instantly see a hot or cold zone of places to deploy resources.”

And as the company has evolved, Nossuli says its going back to its startup roots as it updates its product.

“We’re trying to make sure we have an asset that can be sold down the line” he says.

The Evolution

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Bernard and Laird Nossuli showcase Mortgage Market Smart from the Urbandale office.

Bernard was one of the original hires who went on to eventually marry Hedlunds daughter, Laird Hedlund-Nossuli. Their product, Mortgage Market Smart, was developing until 2014 when Dennis had a lung transplant; They subsequently took 2015 and 2016 off from development to focus on the family.

Dennis Hedlund passed away last March.

“He was a mathematician, artist type,” Laird says. “A very strategic person.”

It’s been two years since any changes have been made to Mortgage Market Smart and Laird said it will be switched over to Java to make it mobile friendly.

“Complex isn’t always better. We thought people wanted to learn how to fish, but they wanted to learn while you are giving them fish. For them to use this data it has to fit into their process now, which is what we’re trying to do.”

The update to Mortgage Market Smart will allow users to quickly print or share a report as opposed to being asked to work in the program on desktop only. And instead of working solely with large companies, they hope to appeal to single users who can access the app on a tablet for a one-time fee.

Dads impact

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Dennis Hedlund with his now son-in-law Bernard Nossuli at his daughters wedding on July 10, 2004.

Laird says the company got off to a slow start with her fathers first three hires.

“He paid us well but it was just a bad business decision,” she explains laughing. “He was such an idea man, that people would buy it. And we learned that didn’t work. You also need a business plan.”

But Laird is quick to say a good idea trumps a business plan.

“My dad wasn’t greedy, he was focused and intellectually curious,” Laird says. “That’s how we are. We don’t want to take as much as possible from our clients, we want them to see value because we know we can sell that value somewhere else. Because when you have a client that has that, “Ah-ha” moment it’s so much fun.”

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