After a business pivot-which put local startup WeCounsel “effectively at square one”-thecloud-based, telemedicine platform has secured $3.5 million in Series A funding.
“We set out with a goal last April of executing on this revamped plan,”WeCounsel founder and CEO Harrison Tyner said Monday.
The platform, whichis a dedicated tool for behavioral health professionals and businesses, had some traction and proof of concept after starting up in 2011, Tyner said.
It launched asan online network that aimed to connect patients with mental health professionals via videoconference.
But Tyner, who is the only remaining of three initial founders, said the team was taking on too much. They were trying to build out software and, at the same time, establish a marketplace for both providers and patients.
“Access to care providers is a major hurdle for patients and families seeking behavioral health support, and WeCounsel is the leading application enabling the patient encounter via telehealth.”
For the five-person company, that wasn’t working.
“We didn’t have enough capital to execute and do it justice,” he said. “If we were going to make this work, we really had to focus on what was going to be the haymaker, and it was clear that we needed to focus on building great software.”
So the team changed from focusing on a marketplace where clients could connect with mental health professionals to building a software as a service model.
The company’s technology facilitates virtual interactions and clinical workflow management between the health professional and the patient in a secure, HIPAA-compliant, easy-to-use application.
Through the software, users get a cloudtelemedicine suite that has secure video and end-to-end practice management tools, such as scheduling, document sharing and billing. It also has other capabilities and advanced workflow solutions designed for virtual patient engagement, according to a news release.
There are two lines of products, one for private practice individuals and one for “enterprise” customers, which would generally be bigger organizations.
The product lines offer different administration capabilities and workflow options, depending on the customer’s size and needs.
Although the product is different, Tyner said the company’s mission never changed. The team has always been committed to increasing access to mental health care through technology, he said.
“We found a more effective way to do it through our current model,” he said.
WeCounsel currently has hundreds of providers using the business’ software to consult in thousands of sessions each month, Tyner said.
A group of health care and technology fundsled by Longmeadow Capital Partners,Point Judith Capital and CVH Holdings are co-investing in WeCounsel to accelerate growth and continue product enhancement.
The investors were impressed with what WeCounsel has been able to do with limited resources. For example, WeCounsel has attracted industry-leading companies such asInSight Telepsychiatry and R3 Continuumto its telemedicine software solution.
Point Judith Capital Managing Partner David Martirano said that his group has found that existing telehealth solutions are not tailored to the behavioral health market, and that has hindered adoption.
ButWeCounsel’s custom solutionprovides mental health professionals with the tools they need for convenient and effective client engagement, he said.
“We recognize that the demand for behavioral health treatment is outpacing the supply of practitioners, leading to an acute shortage of mental health services,” Martirano said in a prepared statement. “We continue to be impressed byWeCounsel’s technologyand itsabilitytopromote access to health care treatmentbyexpandingthe reach of providers to reduce this deficit.”
The funding will allow WeCounsel to expand its team.
“We are going to grow the team to at least 12 [from five] in the next eight weeks, and the majority of jobs will be in Chattanooga,” Tyner said.
Tyner is looking to establish a sales department-so far, all the company’s sales have been inbound-and to increase business development and marketing.
WeCounsel is looking to add sales, marketing and customer support positions, as well as a quality assurance software head.
Tyner started WeCounsel when he was still in college, and five years later, he’s still grinding away.
It hasn’t been easy, but that didn’t stop him.
“I’ve been through hell and back in a lot of ways,” he said.
And part of the key to success is self-awareness and the ability to manage emotions, he said.
“There’s really a drastic roller coaster of events that occur,” he said. “You might be high one day and in the drags the next. [The key] is not really putting too much stock in either one.”
Entrepreneurs just have to keep in the grind, he said.
“The key … is grinding, being consistent, never wavering with the faith in the product and never giving up-that’s something I’d love to drive home,” he said.