Behavioral health is not only a business for Jake Cooper, it is also personal. The Grow Therapy co-founder and CEO has been managing ADHD since he was a child.
He began working with a psychiatrist, and his parents could afford the $300 per session, but when they tried to find an in-network clinician, they came up short. Though Cooper was fortunate his parents were able to make the finances work, he recognizes that this type of care is out of reach for most Americans.
With a mission of providing access to affordable, in-network therapists, Cooper, who came from an investment background, joined with friends he met in college: Dr. Manoj Kanagaraj and Alan Ni, a former product manager at Stripe and Google, to create Grow Therapy, a behavioral health startup that helps therapists launch their own private practices that are covered by insurance.
Today, the New York-based company announced $15 million in Series A funding, led by SignalFire, bringing the company’s total funding to date to $16.6 million since the company was founded in October 2020.
“On average, our providers have over 10 years of clinical experience, but for 85% of them this is their first time having an independent practice,” Cooper told TechCrunch. “They have come from community settings and other clinical jobs and wanted their own shingle.”
About 70% of therapists do not accept insurance due to administrative burdens like all of the paperwork involved to file a claim. Add to that, over 30% of American adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, up from 11% of adults prior to the global pandemic.
To make it less of a burden to accept insurance, Grow Therapy functions as the technology and centralized team providing the resources to help therapists operate in-network. In fact, one of the unique aspects of the company is that it is already working with all of the major insurance payers, Cooper said.
He considers Grow Therapy sitting at the intersection of payers, providers and clients. By being in-network through Grow Therapy, it cuts the price of an average visit to less than $40, and in many cases the visits are all covered. For those who choose not to go with insurance, the company enables therapists to set a sliding scale for price. Meanwhile, Grow Therapy makes revenue in the form of payments from the insurance companies when providers have a visit.
“We have to make sure we can deliver,” Cooper said. “Being paid by the payer is not only a privilege, but a necessity. If we can only provide out-of-pocket, we would be ignoring 90% of America.”
He explained that the best way to expand the company’s network was to raise capital and partner with a firm that has deep experience in building businesses and a reputation for being a true partner.
Cooper was referring to SignalFire and venture partner Wayne Hu, who is joining the board. Hu was connected to Cooper through a colleague who used to work with him.
Hu considers the approach that Grow Therapy is taking to be the “holy grail” of being able to address the supply and demand balance. The company is helping to grow the supply of people wanting to build a practice while freeing up their time from the non-core activities of maintaining a practice, like scheduling and paperwork.
In addition, he liked that the company was vertically integrated to provide the entire range of services for each practice so that therapists could take insurance for the first time.
“When you do that, you are the synthesizer of care,” Hu added. “They have all of the notes, unlike other players. They can also take the infrastructure data and make it accessible to everyone that touches the patient.”
Meanwhile, the company currently has over 1,000 clinicians on its platform and is operating in five states. With the funding, it will be expanding to 10 states. Cooper is also investing in a team of folks from a degree of specialties like clinical care systems and engineering.