Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Shegun Otulana has lived in Birmingham for 21 years. And he has packed a lot into those two decades.
After he graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2003, he became CEO of Zertis Software and, in 2013, founded TheraNest, software geared at practice management for therapists, psychologists, social workers and counselors to help manage and grow their practices.
Since then, TheraNest has experienced significant growth, starting with one employee – Otulana himself – and now topping 320, securing a lead investor for the company last year and garnering Otulana a Jemison Award from the Birmingham Venture Club.
Otulana said TheraNest serves several thousand practices, small and large, and attributes the company’s success to its ability to help practitioners have the peace of mind and the efficiency to run their organizations, he said.
“Number one, we are problem solvers,” Otulana said. “We look for problems and try to solve them. The core values of our business are that we serve our clients and our fellow teammates with humility and treat them with dignity and respect. We seek to delight customers. Every customer should be happy paying us.”
Inspired by “the spirit of service in Birmingham” and a need he saw at a local counseling center, Otulana created software to help mental and behavioral health practitioners have a successful business, and, therefore, hopefully healthier clients. TheraNest’s culture of humility, dignity and respect was inspired directly by Birmingham, Otulana said, a city he feels embodies those three words.
“The company is infused with what makes Birmingham special,” Otulana said. “What’s made Birmingham special to me has always been about the people and the relationships I’ve formed here. It’s a big part of what I do, and I’ve gotten help from many since I came here. Now, our goal is to build a very large company here that has a significant impact in the community that it was founded.”
Otulana is most proud of his team, he said, many of whom hail from Birmingham, his adopted hometown of 21 years.
“We try to move very fast in how we operate,” he said. “We are very candid with each other and everyone gives their best to the company. We’ve always chosen to run a highly efficient, results-driven organization, and that drives through in everything we do.”