Featured Entrepreneur: Deb Thompson & Laura Berkner // Featured Member // Mar 15 2018
Deb Thompson (DT) & Laura Berkner (LB): Stimmi, LLC
DG: What is your role/title within your business?
DT & LB: Co-founders of Stimmi, LLC
DG: What is the goal/mission of your business?
DT & LB: Our goal is to give caregivers of individuals with special needs a training tool to better understand those they are caring for. Our mission is to help individuals with special needs thrive in life.
DG: What is your background? What got you to where you are now?
DT: I am a proud spouse of an Air Force Veteran, and the proud mother of 2 boys, Jaden 23, and Evan 25. My oldest son Evan has autism. Being a military family with a special needs child has it’s challenges, so my husband and I decided that I would stay at home and be a domestic goddess. I loved taking care of my children but I also wanted something more. I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit in me so I went from selling at craft fairs to leading a sales organization in multi-level marketing. My organization reached a customer base of 2000 with a combined production of over $1M in annual sales. I have always been a huge advocate for special needs families, and 2 years ago I had a vision of how I could help these families.
LB: I joke I am looking for my “M”. I started in Meat inspection as a food scientist, became a Mary Kay sales director and then went to school for Medicine. I have my Master’s in Physician Assistant studies. I started Stimmi with Deb Thompson because I feel it is my MISSION to bring this platform to people with special needs.
All of my different experiences have come together to help build Stimmi and create this business. I bring technical and sales skills as well as a deep appreciation of the needs of persons with disabilities. I have seen what works and does not work when providing cares.
DG: What made you decide to start your business?
DT: I just had to do it. If I didn’t take this idea and make it happen then who would? My biggest fear is that if something ever happened to me how would others know how to care for my son’s needs. I didn’t want to abandon my son without a plan. There are so many families out there in my situation and once I had this vision it took on it’s own life.
LB: As a PA, I see how misunderstanding or lack of information can hamper good care. When someone is non verbal, they have to rely on their care team to provide accurate info about them. These caregivers are relying on written material in a binder. I believe that Stimmi can dramatically change how people recieve care and communicate with each other. Stimmi can break down the silos of communication
DG: What is your biggest accomplishment in your business and why?
DT: When my business partner and I presented in front of the Merlin Mentors. It was overwhelming to see so many there who believed in our vision and wanted to be a part of it. Having successful business people respond to Stimmi, like, that was awesome.
LB: We took this product from a concept written on manila folders to having a fully developed platform in less than one year. We are beginning to see how this is changing lives with the way cares are provides. The care team and caregivers are trained, empowered and providing consistent cares by being on the same page. Parents are now hearing about what happens during their loved one’s day. Before they may not know what had happened. I saw one mom cry when she talked about getting updates during the day through the messaging app.
I was proud also to be a finalist in for the Wisconsin Innovations Awards. This reflects our use of technology in a new and exciting way to help make a difference.
DG: If you could give one quote to live by, what would it be?
DT: “Get up!”
LB: “Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” ― Marianne Williamson
DG: What are three things that people may not know about you?
DT: 1. I saw my husband 6 times before we got married. We have been married 26 years.
2. I like fried chicken gizzards.
3. I am obsessive about folding socks.
LB: 1. Medical mission trip was beset by both a volcanic eruption and hurricane
2. My first car had no floorboards
3. I was in 2 television commercials
DG: What words of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
DT: Find your why. Why are you doing this, because it’s hard. But you are strong and you’ve got to keep going. Your why will keep you going even when you don’t want to.
LB: Do something that you are passionate about. When you have passion, there are no setbacks that stop you. You just figure out the next steps and keep moving forward. The passion and the mission drive you. Setbacks are just hiccups and learning moments.
DG: What does Madison need to encourage entrepreneurs to stay and grow their businesses?
DT &LB: Have one central office where a person could go and get ALL the different programs offered for entrepreneurs and start ups. Have a counseling appointment to find out where the entrepreneur is in the process and give suggestions or a list of services available to them. There’s a lot of programs in Madison but it’s overwhelming but it takes way too long to find all of them out.
If you would like to know more about Deb Thompson and Stimmi please explore their web and social media sites! Friend, like, tweet and share their hard work and celebrate their successes!
Website & Social Pages
Join us at our monthly Connect Event on Wednesday, March 28 from 6-8pm for an evening of networking with other women professionals and a presentation from this inspirational entrepreneur.