MBA Program: Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
Industry: Health Tech
Founding Student Name(s): Marla Beyer, Nicole Beck and Kelcie Lee
Brief Description of Solution: Hopscotch is an integrated, HIPAA compliant digital health platform, which enables the child patient and adolescent behavioral health providers the tools to conduct virtual appointments while improving patient engagement in between sessions. Our tools enable providers to have greater transparency 99 percent of the time the patient is out of the office, while improving communication between stakeholders involved in the treatment process.
Funding Dollars: bootstrapped
What led you to launch this venture? Prior to business school, I worked at a children’s hospital in Buffalo where I became acutely aware of the inefficiencies that exist in the pediatric behavioral health space. There are currently shortages of pediatric behavioral health providers across the country. There is huge opportunity to use technology as a way to improve access to care, and ensure that appointments are completed in the most effective manner possible.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Getting into both Harvard Innovation Labs and LaunchNY have been big milestones for us. The mentorship and networks that we’ve been able to tap into, and learn from, through these programs have been crucial in helping us progress.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management provided me with the flexibility to tailor my experience so that I was able to focus my efforts on taking coursework, partaking in experiences and meeting individuals vital to helping the venture progress. Beyond that, the student body and administration were extremely supportive and encouraging about our project. Our team was also able to participate in eLab, Cornell’s yearlong student accelerator program, which provided a wealth of knowledge, through mentorship, boot camps and opportunities to present to investors.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? From an early age, I was influenced by my father’s entrepreneurial spirit. He built a number of businesses over the course of his life, including a large food distribution company. As a child, whenever I had the opportunity, I would go to work with him and was inspired by his drive to create, but even more so by the deep and long-lasting relationships that he developed through his ventures. He was customer-focused and taught me, through example, the importance of sheer perseverance, which has served me well, especially throughout the process of starting Hopscotch.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? While not technically a class, I valued the time I spent involved with Big Red Ventures, Johnson’s student run VC firm, as an associate and subsequently a Fund Manager. It provided me with countless lessons and experiential opportunities in learning how to evaluate an opportunity and think about entrepreneurship from an investor’s perspective. I feel so fortunate to have been able to learn so much from the fellow fund managers Tom Schryver and Thatcher Bell, who provided the team with autonomy while giving us seasoned advice and perspective dutifully gained through their investing careers.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? While there have been so many, Johnson Professor Tom Schryver, in particular, has been a huge supporter. He has been a consistent supporter and advocate from my first interaction with him from his Designing New Ventures course to his guidance as our team’s eLab mentor, to his advisement through Big Red Ventures. Cornell Johnson provides an incredibly robust entrepreneurial track. That is largely due to unbelievable amount of work that he, along with Ken Rother, Andrea Ippolito, Steve Gal, Brad Treat and many others. Our team feels extremely fortunate to have benefitted from the work they do to help student businesses become a reality.
How did the pandemic impact your startup plans? Prior to the pandemic, it was quite rare for pediatric behavioral health providers to conduct sessions virtually due to the intimacy and engagement required for this type of care. Throughout the pandemic, that has necessarily become the medium. This represented a significant number of challenges for these providers, but also a huge opportunity. At Hopscotch, we’re focused on creating tools to enable these providers to optimize their virtual care appointments, while also allowing them greater transparency during the majority of the time the child is not in the office or meeting with them. True, there are certain types of appointments that may not be appropriate for virtual care visits. However, with the use of technology, the field has the chance to expand access and increase engagement, which have been two primary issues plaguing the industry.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our long-term goal is to get to a point where our tools are accessible to children, regardless of whether they have a diagnosable condition or not, through bundling with integrated insurers. Rather than solely targeting children who are accessing specialized care (up to 85 percent), we fundamentally believe that our technology can be used to help children build mental strength early on and prevent conditions arising in the first place. Therefore, providers can focus their efforts on treating acute situations and those who are most in need of care.
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