Featured Member/Ambassador for Month – Emily & Rachel of DotCom Therapy // Featured Member // News // Dec 26 2016
WATCH DOYENNE FEATURED ENTREPRENEUR dotcom therapy’S MADISONNOTEWORTHY WEEKLY MINUTE
Introduction: The Doyenne Group, in our effort to raise awareness and effectiveness of female entrepreneurs in the Madison area, we’ve created a monthly spotlight on a local rising star. This month, come along with us in getting to know Emily Purdom & Rachel Robinson and their local business contributions.
Doyenne Group (DG): What business do you own/work for?
Emily & Rachel: DotCom Therapy®
DotCom Therapy is revolutionizing the field of speech therapy by making services more convenient using our seamless integrated platform. The Virtual Therapy Room™ is anywhere with a webcam and a connection to the internet. We believe that location should not determine your quality of care.
DG: What is your background? What got you to where you are now?
Emily: I went to Missouri State University for my Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. After working in rural schools as a speech-language pathologist for a few years, I decided to get my Educational Specialist degree from Arkansas State University in hopes of someday becoming a school special education director. Right after finishing that degree, the vision for DotCom Therapy was born and the adventure began. I am still incredibly happy I have that extra administrative background in special education because it has helped develop our therapy programs for schools, especially those in rural areas within limited resources.
Rachel: I was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and attended Miami University, University of Arkansas and later graduated in 2012 with a Masters of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Missouri State University. Following graduation I worked as a speech-language pathologist for nursing homes, hospital systems, neuro-rehab facilities and in remote Alaska visiting rural school districts. In 2015 I teamed up with Emily Purdom to launch DotCom Therapy after mutual concerns about the amount of travel involved in our profession. DotCom Therapy is an online platform that offers speech therapy services to schools via teletherapy.
DG: What made you decide to start your business?
Emily: Rachel Robinson (Co-founder/fellow speech-language pathologist) and myself were graduate research partners at Missouri State University. After college, Rachel went off to Texas and I stayed in Missouri to begin our respective careers. After four years in the field, we were reunited at a friend’s wedding in Key Largo, Florida. We expressed the same frustrations with the model of service delivery for speech therapy services, despite having wildly different areas of impact and expertise. I was working in schools with students across 4 counties and Rachel was working in a neuro clinic with 4+ month waitlists for patients recovering from stroke. Innovation was the answer to the critical shortage and barriers throughout our industry. After much discussion and serendipitously working with a child in Thailand through a novice telepractice model, we decided to start an online teletherapy company with a mission to make therapy services available to everyone, everywhere. Rachel came up with the name DotCom Therapy that would lead the way to serving people of all ages, connecting them with a qualified therapist based on expertise not just location.
Rachel: I am a third generation entrepreneur and always knew that I wanted to break the glass ceiling. After working as a speech-language pathologist it was apparent to me that there was a desperate need for easier access to life-changing services. The answer was technology. By utilizing and perfecting this mode of delivery we could offer the best services available by removing location as a barrier. After completing a successful pilot of our services in Alaska (they went from 5 visits a year to 80 at a 20% price reduction) we launched our services nationwide. We are now providing over 1,000 sessions a week.
DG: What is your biggest accomplishment so far in life and why?
Emily: Wow, this is a tough one! I am thankful for the opportunity for higher education. To me, education is so critically important for women. Education is freedom. It’s the ability to provide for yourself. To be accomplished in something that you have single handedly completed is powerful. It marks dedication, determination and growth all at the same time. That’s really cool. In my early 20’s my education and the ability it gave me to provide for myself brought me through some incredibly challenging times, and I am really proud that I had people along the way to push me to actually make it happen.
Rachel: This is always an incredibly tough question to answer. I think it goes back to where it all started and that was getting into graduate school. Had I not received that phone call asking if I wanted to join the 2012 class I would not be where I am today.
DG: What is your biggest accomplishment in your business and why?
Emily: Last fall, I was standing on an airstrip in a rural Alaskan village right by the Bering Sea waiting for a bush plane and an adventurous pilot to come pick me up. As the students walked from the school to their homes or out to the tundra, they would run to come talk to me and even waited with me, looking up and listening for those familiar sounds of fly overs. I was there to foster a relationship with students and teachers that allows us the opportunity and ability to provide speech therapy services. Knowing that students with disabilities, even in remote Alaska, are now receiving access to the best therapists in the field in order to help them be most successful is my biggest professional accomplishment. By removing location as a barrier and prioritizing our team development of experienced therapists, these incredible students are now being served. It’s all about the people we are helping. That moment was something I will never forget and the highlight of our efforts with DotCom Therapy thus far.
Rachel: The biggest accomplishment in my business happens on a daily basis when I hear feedback from our schools. We are offering services to children that never would have received therapy in the past and that is an incredible feeling. Our company and our therapists are giving children the power to communicate. Each story I hear gives me chills every time and will never get old.
DG: What is the biggest obstacle that you have face while in business? What is the biggest fear that you have for your business?
Emily: The biggest obstacle is navigating the startup world with a background in speech therapy instead of a MBA. It seems like at every juncture Rachel and I have been fortunate to connect with the right people and resources to navigate the DotCom Therapy path. I am so grateful for that. My biggest fear is thinking too small. This is a vibrant industry that is soaking up innovation and providing the opportunity to impact millions across the globe who require therapy services. Our mission is big. We must eradicate barriers that prohibit people from getting the therapy services they need. To me, it’s achievable if we keep charging toward that vision.
Rachel: I think the biggest obstacle is time. When growing out a business 24 hours simply isn’t enough time to do it all! My biggest fear for my business would be if we ever lost sight as to why we started DotCom Therapy in the first place.
DG: If you could give one quote to live by, what would it be?
Emily: “Do it afraid.” This is the beloved phrase of one of my mentors. Whatever “it” may be. Pitching to investors, speaking to colleagues at an international conference, getting on a bush plane in rural Alaska, asking for help, recruiting a mentor, etc. Do it. Do it afraid, because it won’t always be intimidating. I think this has been the most helpful quote, if you will, for my startup journey. Short and sweet.
Rachel: “To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go. The tales of rough usage are for the most part exaggerations, as also are the tales of sea danger. To face the elements is, to be sure, no light matter when the sea is in its grandest mood. You must then know the sea, and know that you know it, and not forget that it was made to be sailed over.” -Joshua Slocum
DG: What words of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Emily: Make sure that whatever you are doing brings value to your life, because it will consume you at times. You want to be committed to something that is extremely meaningful or beneficial, whatever that may personally mean. Also, make it fun! Not many people, especially women, are walking a similar path, so connect with as many entrepreneurs as you can.
DG: What does Madison need to encourage entrepreneurs to stay and grow their businesses?
Emily: Wow. Well from a company that has relocated to Madison, I’d say you are on top of your game! I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and entrepreneurs who live transparently, connecting with others in the community. The Doyenne Group is a perfect example of this and further appreciated by their commitment to women entrepreneurs.
Rachel: Support! Just as the Doyenne Group is doing, we all are in this together. Madison has the unique advantage of being small enough for us all to support one another yet big enough to allow for growth and diversity.
If you would like to know more about Emily & Rachel and DotCom Therapy please explore their web and social media sites! Friend, like, and share her hard work and celebrate her success with us!
Located at: Soon to be Madison!