December 7, 2019

First update/48 users

Dhruv Manchala @dhruvmanchala

First, let me describe the product.

We're a free mental health concierge. You tell us what you're looking for, and we email you 1-3 confirmed available therapists that meet your requirements with 1 week, free.

We reach out to enough therapists to find 1-3 available matches within 1 week. We contact each therapist, usually by phone, to confirm they're available and meet your requirements. We know where to look and how to screen therapists. We answer any questions you have, handle anything unexpected, and will keep looking for therapists until you're happy.

Here's our story.

We literally posted on reddit and HackerNews 3 months ago, and tons of people reached out. We've found therapists for 48 people so far.

Initially, there was no tech, and we serviced everybody, haha. People filled out a form or told us what they were looking for, and we went on Google and emailed/called therapists. Now we use a database of Bay Area therapists listed on Psychology Today that we scraped.

We clearly said "only in California" on the website, but people reached out from all over the US, and a couple of people reached out from Europe. We helped find a lot of in-network and budget therapists.

It's been an incredible learning process. We learned where to look for therapists, what questions to ask, and how insurance works.

Since we serviced everybody, we ran into a lot of interesting edge cases. For example, a lot of people find it impossible to see an in-network therapist with Kaiser, because it's commonly believed you have to get a referral from your PCP, and they only refer if you appear suicidal. But there's actually a department at Kaiser in charge of authorizing therapy, and you can often get a therapist by calling their number and yelling them.

There was a user in Slovenia, haha. I called a Slovenian hotline, but the lady at the other end was flustered because I was calling from the US and couldn't help me. I wrote emails and used Google Translate to translate them into Slovene, emailed local organizations, and got quite a few replies.

Ultimately, we found it too challenging to find budget or in-network therapists, so now we only find therapists that charge $150+/session. To find an in-network therapist, we had to call at least 50 therapists, which is crazy. We tried using an autodialer to leave voicemails, but a lot of people picked up and then it turned into a robocall, which pissed people off, haha.

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