From the “Show Me State” to the Open Tundra: Our DotCom Therapy Founder's Story (Part I)
by Sanaz Cordes, MD | CEO of DotCom Therapy
I suppose most CEOs don’t write blogs about their company’s founder. But, I hope that after you read this two part blog series, you’ll see that our founder is not like most. And this company is not like most. I once asked her about her criteria for hiring at DotCom, and without hesitation she said “A passion for our mission first, a fit for our culture second, and a skill set suited for the job third.”
Unlike typical stories of innovation and change, this founder’s story has its roots in a small, remote village in the beautiful (and very cold) state of Alaska. No matter how many times I hear Rachel Robinson tell her entrepreneur’s tale, I get goosebumps. It’s too much to share in one blog, so welcome to part one (of two) of our DotCom Therapy Story.
She overcame her intense fear of flying, and driven by her passion to improve access to speech therapy, she spent hours flying back and forth from Missouri to Alaska – treks that involved many bush planes (and other aircrafts whose FAA status was questionable). And thousands of miles of white-knuckled flying, being stranded for days without running water, and sleeping on school district building floors didn’t dissuade her.
So, let’s back up. The story of DotCom Therapy actually began a few years after Rachel completed her graduate degree program in Speech Language Pathology (SLP) from Missouri State University. With her signature Panera coffee in hand, Rachel began building what was to become one of the most successful companies in the teletherapy industry.
Her experience working in a neurorehabilitation clinic opened her eyes to the long distances patients were willing to drive to receive care. She felt her patients’ frustrations as they endured long wait lists - despite their imminent need for care, as a result of the shortage of SLPs and occupational therapists in the US. Similarly, she saw the great distances her school-based SLP colleagues had to travel to serve students in remote school districts. Like most entrepreneurs, she began thinking about how to disrupt this unsustainable model of traditional, on-site care delivery.
Like all great entrepreneurs, she recognized a problem: children needed better access to therapy, regardless of location, socioeconomic status, or institutional barriers. And thus, she began her quest for a solution.
Inspiration came by way of a company that was providing telemedicine via videoconferencing to a young child overseas. Despite the great services they were providing, there were gaps in provider-to-end-user workflows. The company, like many, was created and run by non-industry professionals. Rachel realized what the industry needed was a teletherapy company, run by therapists, who understood the nuances of this space. A therapist-founded company created for therapists, patients, students, and consumers was the only way to truly disrupt the status quo and improve access to therapy for everyone.
Stay tuned for part two of this story. Trust me, it’s worth it.