Rachel McCrickard was a mental health professional for years, working in the early years of her career catering to homeless individuals in Los Angeles. She returned to her hometown of Chattanooga in 2011 to work at a community mental health agency, but she needed to complete the clinical supervision hours required for licensure — 200-500 of them.
Unfortunately, those supervised hours weren’t available in Chattanooga. So Rachel spent an hour and a half each way driving back and forth to Atlanta to obtain the hours she needed to be licensed. Though she did make it happen for herself, she realized that geographic boundaries presented a real issue for therapists in rural or underserved areas.
In 2015, Georgia was one of the first states to pass legislation allowing for these hours to be completed remotely by “telesupervision.” More states followed and McCrickard know the the market was there for this gap to be filled. In 2017 she founded Motivo as the first HIPAA-compliant video platform connecting mental health professionals to clinical supervisors.
Now, the small team has nailed down their revenue model, their growing market, and who they need to fill out their team. They’re also seeking a seed round of $1 million to scale the platform and grow. Learn more about the problem they’re solving with technology and how they pivoted when they realized they had many more potential users than anticipated.
What problem are you solving?
Similar to residency for a doctor, mental health therapists are required to complete between 200-500 hours of clinical supervision before they can obtain a professional license. Collecting these hours is time-consuming, expensive and often difficult to access. In the past, the therapist had no other choice — in order to practice, they had to obtain a license, and were therefore restricted to the available supervisors within their geographical area.
Finally, there is an easier way. Recently, states have begun to pass legislation allowing these supervision hours to be completed online through secure video conference. Motivo responded to this opportunity by creating the first HIPAA-compliant platform connecting pre-licensed therapists to their ideal clinical supervisor. Motivo is creating a new standard in the therapy world by providing these mandatory, career-entry services in a more efficient, accessible and affordable way.
What is the market impact?
Motivo will revolutionize the mental health care industry in the next five to seven years. We will do this by increasing both the number and the quality of mental health professionals nationwide. The US Department of Labor estimates a 20 percent growth in mental health professionals in the next ten years (the average for most industry sectors is 7 percent). Even though this workforce growth is exciting, it will most likely continue within urban, densely populated areas. The majority of the country could continue to experience severe mental health professional shortage areas, as has been the case for the last two decades.
Motivo will create an industry shift by enabling technology to provide therapists with the tools they need to become licensed in rural and underserved areas. Additionally, Motivo will provide rural and urban therapists alike with a diverse network of peer consultation and continuing education opportunities so that they can expand and improve their clinical skills after licensure.
What’s your revenue model?
Motivo generates profit through three revenue streams. 1) Clinical Supervision: Motivo collects payment from the customer and pays the supervisor as an independent contractor. Sessions occur approximately twice per month and continue until the required number of hours are obtained.
2) Peer Consultation: Motivo connects licensed therapists with professional peers for consultation services. And 3) Master Classes: Motivo provides six sessions of Master Classes.
How did you come up with this idea?
Our founder, Rachel McCrickard is a Georgia Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who experienced difficulty accessing the supervision hours needed for licensure. Rachel was driving one and a half hours, from Chattanooga to Atlanta, in order to obtain in-person clinical supervision. In 2015 when Georgia passed a rule allowing online supervision, also called telesupervision, Rachel became inspired to take action. She called on her background as a therapist, her strong work ethic and her industry connections to build the first HIPAA-compliant platform connecting pre-licensed therapists to clinical supervisors.
Have you experienced a product or company pivot?
Yes. Our company was founded under the name LMFT Connect in March 2017. Our founder believed that lack of access to supervision was a problem mainly facing those seeking licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). However, we quickly learned that there was a much larger market as we received requests from professional counselors, social workers, psychologists and addictions counselors for a similar platform.
What we thought was a 200,000 addressable market of MFT’s, was actually a 1.3 million market of mental health professionals across the country. In December 2017 we rebranded under the name Motivo and set our sights on capturing the market of online clinical supervision and peer consultation for the entire mental health industry.
Who are your competitors and why do you stand out?
We are a first mover in the space of providing clinical supervision online. Our competition is the current method of in-person sessions between supervisors and therapists. We believe there are two reasons this problem has not yet been solved: legislation allowing online supervision is as recent as the last two years, and state regulations governing licensure varies from state to state and is confusing.
Because this industry is ripe for disruption, we believe Motivo will soon have competition. We are positioning ourselves to capture the market by raising strong capital, establishing a solid platform, and marketing widely but strategically.
What has been your biggest obstacle thus far?
Our biggest challenge thus far has been swiftly developing our platform. The majority of tech companies have a web developer on the founding team. Our team is comprised of market experts, with a strong understanding of our customer’s needs, but with little to no tech-related experience. We have thus far depended on contracted web developers, and are feeling the need to build a more robust platform capable of scaling quickly.
For this reason, Motivo is currently seeking a co-founder with expertise in product development, product management, web applications, and SEO/Social Media marketing.
How does the southeast weave into your story?
Because our founder is a Georgia-licensed therapist, she was closely connected to the changing regulations regarding online supervision as it made its way through Georgia legislation. Georgia was one of the first states to create clear guidelines for the responsible use of technology in the mental health space. The Georgia Association of Marriage and Family Therapist was strongly supportive of our company and provided us with our first marketing opportunities to grow a base of supervisors in the Southeast.
Motivo has the highest concentration of supervisors in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida. Currently, Motivo calls Chattanooga home and is able to take full advantage of the city’s high-speed fiber optic internet. Motivo was accelerated into business by our local incubator, Co.Lab and we continue to utilize many of the resources available within the city.
What are your next steps?
Our next milestone is to expand on our MVP by developing a proprietary platform, using API integration tools. We will also build out a diverse and dynamic workforce, bringing on a full time Web Developer, Director of Operations and Sales Lead. Lastly, we will capture five percent of our total addressable market over the next three years through partnering with graduate universities, exhibiting at professional conferences, and digital marketing. Our chief priority will be to create a sticky site of loyal users by continuing to evolve and perfect our model over the successful years ahead.
We are also seeking $1 million in angel funding. Our funding round will close in July 2018.
Photos provided by Motivo. Holly Beilin contributed to article development