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Innovation is Their Business

Meet three creative local entrepreneurs on the leading edge of their respective fields

Owning a business requires a collection of skills including creativity, innovation, and a devotion to excellence and service. On these pages, we introduce you to three local entrepreneurs who are leading the way in their respective industries and in our community.

Matt Bricker
Owner of Coastal Patio Furniture and Richmond City Firefighter

You’re a firefighter and a businessman. How do you marry the two? As a firefighter, we are trusted by strangers who have called upon us on what might be the worst day of their lives. The same loyalty is conferred on me by each of my customers. I strive to make an impact with our customer service.

You refurbish old patio furniture. In our throwaway culture, that’s pretty unique. My aunt Deb had a furniture repair shop; she taught me the business. A few years ago, I saw a Dumpster loaded with ripped and broken chairs. I immediately had a passion to start Coastal Patio Furniture. Our mission will always be to customize furniture, extend its life, and prevent waste in landfills.

 How do you achieve work-life balance? I like to incorporate work into my life. My boys come to the shop while I’m working. I teach them about tools and they help me get parts. They already know how to install some!

Dr. Kenneth Qiu
Physician and founder of EuDoc

EuDoc is subscription-based. How does this help patients?
Insurance works well when covering catastrophic events such as hospitalizations or rare diseases, but makes primary care unnecessarily complicated and expensive. Our practice model, direct primary care, improves access and level of care for patients. The practice model is growing nationally and we are the first in Chesterfield County.

You strive to keep patients out of waiting rooms. How will you adapt as you grow?
We spend more time during visits, allowing us to handle more issues per visit. We also use telemedicine generously, which can handle many issues without patients coming in. We aren't incentivized to have people come in often, so our model allows us to keep our no-wait-time and same- or next-day promise as we grow.

How do you innovate in your practice?
Since we don't chase insurance coding and reimbursement, our creative energy goes into making a better patient experience. For example, we have special negotiated lab and imaging rates for members, which often beats what they’d pay with their insurance. 

Hobbies?
My favorite active hobbies are tennis and bouldering, and I have an extensive collection of board games.

Emmie Lewis
Owner of RVA Cheese Girl

Talk about your transition from “regular” job to your business.
I filed to become an LLC two weeks before the pandemic hit. I quickly pivoted from large-scale events to small boards, which were popular as we all celebrated milestones from home. Balancing both jobs was tough – I made boards in the morning, delivered during my lunch hour and after work, and bought supplies in the evening. This helped me realize just how much I wanted this business to work. After a year of doing both, I left my full-time job last June.

Your business has a lot of moving parts. How do you manage?
I delegate tasks that don’t play to my strengths but are essential for the business. I have an awesome team I hope to continue to grow.

Share a recent "lesson learned.”
I had someone purchase a board with a personalized card for delivery on a Sunday. It was my only board for that day, and I remember thinking I wished I could just enjoy the day. When writing the card I realized the customer’s family had lost their son the year before. The customer burst into tears when I delivered it. I realized that one board really can make a difference and my work that day truly mattered.

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