NYLP: This is a very special episode of the New York Launch Pod. We are here in Hicksville, Long Island. Why are we out here in Hicksville, Long Island? We are at the global headquarters of Samson Technologies. They are a sponsor of the New York Launch Pod. They provide us with all of our podcasting equipment, and we are very grateful to be out here. You should see this setup. If you go on our social media, you will see the setup. It is fantastic. Samson is not a start-up. They were founded in 1980, but we do talk to start-ups. Stepping up to the Launch Pod, we have David Kupfer and Yitzchok Kolodny, the co-founders of Theryon. Welcome to the Launch Pod, David and Yitz.
Yitz: Thank you. Thank you for having us.
David: Thanks. We really appreciate it.
NYLP: So Theryon, physical therapy on demand. Why do it?
Yitz: Why do it? Well, we have a lot of engaged people out there that don’t have the time to get the therapy. We have busy doctors, lawyers, accountants, they have a hard time getting physical therapy, but they need to get better. We created a way of them getting physical therapy whenever, wherever they can do it. We’ve created this for my patients that don’t have the time to get to and from physical therapy. I’ve had a lot of patients that go around, that they hurt themselves, but they’re busy professionals. They can’t just leave their office, middle of the day, to go to physical therapy. So we created this with them in mind, where we come to them. We give them physical therapy whenever, wherever they need it. A great quality session and we get them better faster.
David: I’m really the paradigm customer because I had an 8:00 AM meeting this morning in Manhattan, and now we’re out here in Hicksville, Long Island. I run around a lot. I’m very, very busy. If I would get an injury, maybe I was skiing or biking, and I injured myself and I need to get better quickly, I just don’t have the time to go out to a clinic in the middle of a work day and spend the hours traveling to and from, sitting in a waiting room. I need some Uber-type service to get the service to me when I need it, to be able to save me that time. When you’re an engaged professional working in a busy city, that time becomes really, really valuable.
NYLP: Well everyone is busy in New York. We know that. How did you come up with this idea? You wanted physical therapy, and said, “I need physical therapy on demand?”
Yitz: So it’s very interesting. I would say it’s my most interesting ever treatment. I’m a physical therapist. I’ve been doing this almost 10 years now. I had a patient client that was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He hurt his shoulder, but he couldn’t get the physical therapy. He just didn’t have the time and the day. Called me up, begged me to come to his office. I was actually giving him a treatment session while he would have about 15 people in his board room. Took his shirt off, I was working on his shoulder. By far, the most interesting place I’ve ever-
NYLP: His shirt off while he’s in a meeting?
Yitz: Everybody. He’s a big boss, right? Nobody’s telling him what to do and how to do it. It was quite interesting. Everybody took a step back. I took a step back. We’re hearing all this big stuff. It’s a good thing it goes in one ear, right out the other once with my clients, but we got him better. We started working on him that one session. He was already starting to feeling. Begged me to come to his house at 10:00 PM at night, 11:00 PM at night, because that’s the only time he was able to say, “I need physical therapy.” For that type of person, we need to be able to get people better, even if they’re very busy and they don’t have the time to get it. From there talking to a lot of my business patients, do you have the time for physical therapy? Why do you only come once every two weeks? Because that’s the only time they’re able to find it. We created a solution with them in mind, where your schedule changes daily. You don’t know where you’re going to be tomorrow at 3:00 in the afternoon. You wake up in the morning, “Oh wow, I have a free hour. Let me try to get therapy today.”
NYLP: So are you targeting these high-level business executives? Who’s your target market for all of this?
David: So we have a lot of potential markets that we could go into. You have anyone from the stay-at-home mom that is taking care of children at home and just can’t leave to go to a clinic in middle of the day to business travelers who are here either for work and they’ve already been receiving physical therapy or they come to New York for an orthopedic procedure at Hospital for Special Surgery, one of the great hospitals in the New York area. One of the great markets that we have already in New York is the weekend warrior. You have the busy professional that also loves to take his bike out for 30 mile runs, likes to get away for a quick round of golf. Those professionals really can enjoy and can appreciate a service like this because it’s just how they handle their life. They try to figure out the best ways to get everything done. They try to figure out the most sufficient ways to get things done. Theryon fits right into their schedule. They have work meetings, they have family obligations, they have their sports and fitness interests, and now if they need physical therapy, they can get it on their own schedule as well.
NYLP: I’m glad that you brought up the weekend warrior, because it seems like people are certainly more active. Are people demanding more physical therapy or are they requiring more physical therapy? What’s this market looking like?
Yitz: As people get more active, they get more injuries. So yeah, they are requiring it. Sometimes they try to just power through it, which for the most part actually hurts them more. They’ll try to do others things like … Maybe they’ll think a massage will help them, which it might help for a little bit for just a soreness. When you really hurt yourself during one of those weekend rides or runs, you’re going to have a hard time. You’re not going to get better that much faster. Eventually with rest, everybody will get better, but you can’t function when you’re in pain every day. You can’t live your life.
David: These people … I consider myself one of them to a certain extent. I like to get out Sunday mornings for a nice, long ride. The one thing that I want when I have an injury is to get back out quickly. So this is the kind of service that’s going to really get them out there a lot quicker. The physical therapy market itself is growing. There is, like 100 million people that have some sort of injury, in a given year. But right now-
NYLP: One hundred million?
David: Yes. There’s some sort of injury-
NYLP: In the U.S.?
David: In the U.S. … That have some sort of injury that could be addressed through physical therapy or something similar to physical therapy. You’re talking about everything from arthritis to children being injured. There’s a lot of people who have some sort of injury in a given year, some sort of condition that could benefit from a service like physical therapy. Right now, according to the lobbying association that runs all these statistics, physical therapists only see about 8% or 9% of the potential market. That’s growing every single year, but it takes a certain amount of education to tell people you don’t necessarily need to get a script when you’re in pain. You don’t necessarily need to go to your primary care physician. If you’re injured, if you have a musculoskeletal condition, you can call physical therapy. You can go to physical therapy and see physical therapist and get better quicker.
NYLP: Well it sounds great. Get better quicker. How much does a session cost?
David: So the full price of a session right now is $175. We offer lots of coupon codes that are available and we’ll provide a coupon code to your listeners that take off $50 off the visit. So right now it’s $125. We launched in February … We’re in a beta launch right now. Right now, we’re private pay only. If you want to see a Theryon physical therapist, you put in a credit card like Uber and we’ll take the money from your credit card. Within the next year or so, we’re going to launch the insurance market as well, so be able to put in your insurance information and you just pay whatever your deductible or co-pay is.
NYLP: How does that price, now that it’s out of pocket, compare to other physical therapy places that are out there? If you’re going to a studio, something like that.
Yitz: There’s the private pay market and then there’s the insurance market. With the insurance market, we can’t really compare because these are people that are paying a $20, $30, or $40, even up to $50 co-pays. There is a bigger expense for the private pay market, we’re right there in middle. We’re actually very competitive. We’re on the low end. We’re trying to democratize it. We’re trying to get everybody to be able to get it. We don’t want somebody to say, “I just can’t afford to get better.” We try to get people better faster. These sessions are one-on-one, so you’re really getting your money’s worth. You’re having somebody come to your apartment, your office, your house, your hotel room, and they’re going to spend 45 minutes or so with you one-on-one, hands on getting you better. While you may pay more up front, you’re going to get better in a lot fewer sessions.
NYLP: I know that that makes a big difference. I went to a physical therapist. It was a group practice. They took my insurance and it took a long time for me to get better, because no one was paying attention to me. You have that one-on-one session. It certainly makes a difference. What I’m interested to know is you brought up doing physical therapy in someone’s office. I go to a physical therapist that had a studio, they have all this equipment. They have a treadmill that’s zero gravity. All these things I have no idea how it works, how does a physical therapy session in my home, in my office, compare to going to a studio where they have all this fancy equipment?
Yitz: So you mentioned the zero gravity treadmill, which is amazing for somebody who can’t walk and can’t put weight on his foot. For someone like that, we can’t bring that. We can’t bring an entire treadmill with us. They’re really very few things that you need to do on a machine that I can’t do one-on-one, directing you to it. All our therapists have a basic amount of equipment. We bring weights. We bring massage cream, if that’s what you need. We bring Thera-Bands. For the most part, the thing that really gets patients better quicker is not the exercise, it’s the hands on manual treatment. We’re not doing massage but we’re going to be doing the stretching. We’re going to be showing exactly how to get that exact muscle that’s injured better. You don’t need all these fancy equipment. Most of the time we use them in the clinic. It’s a problem because it comes out to economics. We need to see five or six patients at a time in a clinic to get them better. I can’t spend time with every patient, so I’m going to put that patient on the treadmill for five to 10 minutes, put that patient on the bike. It does exercise, gets them better, but it’s not doing that hands on, the thing that’s going to get them better faster.
NYLP: Let’s talk about the sessions themselves. Who are these physical therapists that are going to people’s homes and people’s offices?
David: Sure so we have a pretty rigorous vetting process that we engage in before we bring a therapist onto the platform. We have them submit a pretty detailed application, resume, letters of reference. Each therapist has to have their own malpractice policy. We gather all the information. Also we require a certain amount of experience, a certain type of experience. We want people with orthopedic experience in their background, and we bring them in for a meeting. We sit down with them and we really engage with them and ask them some questions, ask them some questions about physical therapy, about their experience and their background. We see if this is a person that we would feel can represent the brand. Is this a person that we would trust going out and seeing patients? We’ve gotten hundreds of applications from physical therapists and we’ve been very selective. We’ve taken just the best of the people that have applied. Right now, we have about 40 therapists on the platform, all of them have been thoroughly vetted. It’s just really the best quality that you can find in Manhattan.
NYLP: So you mentioned hundreds of therapists are applying. How are you recruiting them?
Yitz: We start off with … We threw some meet ups, right? We have … Me and one of the other co-founders that’s not here, we have a vast network of physical therapists. We just threw it all out there. We made it in our corporate offices out in the city, that we were able to get space in. We had 30, 40, 50 therapists show up to these things. That word of mouth was great. People were really, really interested. They liked the idea. They feel that this is really the future of everything in the world, right? The on demand economies, where everything is going. So they just pass it out there. Then we started with Indeed, on Facebook. The amount of interest that we’re getting, questions, it’s just been phenomenal. Therapists are really backing us. It’s a little paradigm shift for them but they’re enjoying it.
David: I can tell you that I’m not a physical therapist, but my two fellow co-founders are physical therapists, Yitz and another co-founds Zvi who’s not here today … They’ve built this service for what they would want as therapists. Everything from price to convenience to … There’s a lot of benefits built into the service for therapists as well, not just the patients. They’ve built it for if they were a therapist joining a platform like this, what would they want?
NYLP: The therapists are independent contractors, 1099?
NYLP: How do you ensure the quality?
Yitz: We do a lot of … We have our whole lot of background checks and vetting. We’re asking them clinical questions. We’re making sure that these are somebody that I would trust. The other thing is we have a rating system in the app. After every single session, the patient is going to get a thing to rate the therapist. We’re reaching out to our patients, right? After the first or second session we’re saying, “How was your experience? Was there anything good with … Tell me good things about your experience. Tell me bad things. Tell me how the whole app experience was.” We want to know everything because we want to continuously make it better. Our goal is to be patient first, physical therapist second. We’re going to make money on the back end as well, but we want to make sure everybody’s happy first. Give a great product and service.
David: That’s the part of the service that is hardest for us to control, obviously. We can build the most beautiful app, the easiest to use, but if a therapist goes out and doesn’t interact with the patient well and the patient comes off thinking that wasn’t a great physical therapy session, then it’s all for nothing. We’ve put in the effort before the therapist ever goes out in seeing a patient, to make sure that we trust that therapist, that that therapist knows that they should go out there, put a smile on their face, interact pleasantly with the patient and just have a great bedside manner because that is the part that again, we can only do so much but it’s going to make or break the business for us.
NYLP: Particularly when someone’s paying out of pocket, it’s a steep price to pay.
NYLP: The therapists are going into a very intimate space. Maybe it’s not the office but it’s someone’s home. Concern, I’m sure you guys get this all the time, how do I know that my physical therapist is safe? You’re vetting them, you have this quality control, but what about the safety aspect of going into someone’s home?
Yitz: Right. You know, it’s funny, because we get the same questions from our therapists. How do we know my patient’s not going to attack me?
NYLP: That was going to be one of my other questions too.
Yitz: Right. We can control our therapists a lot. It’s again, a small rehab world. We know these therapists. We’ve spoken to people they’ve worked with.
NYLP: Criminal background checks?
Yitz: Criminal background checks. Completely. We’re not letting anybody go out there.
David: We run a national background check on them. We also run a check against all of the exclusion lists from Medicaid, Medicare, to see whether they’ve been excluded from any of those policies. We do a lot to figure out who this person is. We’ll check out their social media accounts and other things like that.
Yitz: Another thing to note, these are all licensed physical therapists. They had to go through a vetting process just by the state level. If you have any felony convictions, you won’t get a license. They will take away your license. These are good people. We’re meeting them. We would feel comfortable getting treated ourselves or our family members getting treated by these PTs. We’re very comfortable on that one. On the patient side, we get a little nervous about it, because we can’t really vet the patients as they come in.
David: There are certain things that we tell the therapists when they ask us. The therapists asks us during the interview process, “How do I know who this person is?” We tell them, well one, you just have to understand the New York market for home care. There are literally tens of thousands of medical practitioners going into people’s homes every single day, and really you don’t hear very many incidents. On top of that, by the time that you’ve seen this patient, they’ve downloaded the app, they’ve put in a working phone number and e-mail address, they’ve created an account, and they put in a working credit card and had their credit card charged for the session. Before the first session where the therapist sees a new patient, they call the patient and confirm their location, introduce themselves. They’ve seen all of this information about the person, then they’ve spoken to them on the phone for a few minutes, and then they approach the person’s residence or office and they can see where they’re going before they go in. We tell them if something doesn’t feel right, then don’t go in there. Call us and we’ll reach out to the patient and we’ll figure out what’s going on. Thank God we haven’t had any incidents like that.
NYLP: What about gender matching, in terms of male physical therapist, male patient, female physical therapist, female patient. Do you do that at all?
Yitz: Right now, no. That’s going to be in our version two. We want to be able to give the patient the option. However for the most part, in my experience and most people that have that same experience, when it comes to health care practitioner, we’re not talking about a massage therapist. We’re talking about a doctor. We’re talking about a physical therapist. They’re professionals, they’re medical professionals. Doesn’t really matter so much with the gender. If there is an issue and you’re, let’s say a male and you’re matched with a female and you’d rather not have a female, you could always let the … When she calls you, you say, “I’m sorry. I’d really feel more comfortable with a male and I’m going to try again.” Cancel the appointment, and then reschedule it. That therapist won’t pick it up again, because they know what the story is. Hopefully a male physical therapist would accept it.
NYLP: I’m also thinking from a female physical therapist aspect, do they feel comfortable going into guys’ homes?
Yitz: We’ve actually had female physical therapists taken cases, and they had absolutely no issues with it. Again, these are people that feel comfortable enough to give their treatment in a foreign space, not in their own space. We’re not taking somebody right out of school who’s very fresh. These are seasoned physical therapists who’ve probably also done some home care in the past as well.
NYLP: Do you get the same physical therapist every single time?
David: So for the first session, you get the first physical therapist that can make that session. You put in the date, time, location, you’d like to be seen and all the physical therapists in that area see the availability, see the session, and if they can make it the first person to accept will get the case. After that, we give the patient the option of re-booking with the same physical therapist. There’s a certain benefit to building that rapport with your health care practitioner, and we really appreciate that and we want to build on that, so absolutely after you see a therapist, you can continue booking with the same therapist. We’ve seen that. Some of our patients have re-booked 15, 20 times with the same physical therapist, and had really,really great outcomes.
NYLP: This is a question that’s near and dear to my heart. You have an app and you have a trusted physical therapist. Unlike Uber where it doesn’t necessarily matter if you have the same driver every single time, some people may prefer that physical therapist. You’re making money off the physical therapist, and now they’ve earned all the items that you’re providing, the marketing and the connecting of people. What’s to stop a patient from saying, “You know what? I love this physical therapist. Why don’t we cut out Theryon? You’re an independent contractor. You can make more money and I can pay less, and it’s a win win for both of us?”
David: That’s a great question. We get it all the time. It’s one of the most popular ones we get. It’s really a few different things that would stop a therapist from doing that. One is we hope to build a long standing relationship with this therapist and provide lots and lots of patients to them. They really, contractually and legally, they put that relationship at risk if they were to do that. We tell them when we onboard therapists that you may want to do that, that’s one of the reasons we may terminate you from the platform. More than that, there’s really the technology that will tell us if that’s happening. If we have a patient and a physical therapist relationship and we see that they’re one and done, or if you have a physical therapist who has multiple patients that sees once or twice and then stops seeing them, we’re going to reach out to the patient and we’re going to ask, “Hey, how was your session? What’s going on?” If a therapist only sees patients one session and then stops, when the average number of sessions is six or seven per patient, then we’re going to know either the therapist isn’t very good or that they’re trying to work out agreements with the patients on the side, and we would intervene and try to stop that. The numbers don’t lie. We’ll be able to see pretty quickly if that’s happening.
NYLP: So your idea is to grow quick enough that you can basically be the platform for physical therapist and say, “You know what, you don’t want to do this, otherwise you’re off our platform.”
David: Well there’s a lot of people who offer concierge physical therapy in New York City, but you don’t know who they are right now. Nobody’s big enough that they have a brand that’s recognizable. The market is extremely fragmented. What we’re trying to do is really build a brand name for therapy where there hasn’t been, and there’s really a vacuum in the market. If you want to know who to go to for physical therapy, you’re going to ask your doctor. You’re going to ask your friends. You’re going to research it online. You wouldn’t know the name of a brand without that research. We want to build the level of awareness in New York City and beyond so that when people need physical therapy, they know, “Oh, I’m going to go on the Theryon app and I’m going to get myself a physical therapist.” Maybe even the same day that they were seen by their orthopedist.
NYLP: Well I’m glad you brought up the competition. Who is your competition? Because that’s something that I don’t know about.
David: Really any physical therapy practice, and there are tons of them, are our competition. From an app standpoint, there’s one other app that is really the Zoc-Doc for physical therapy. They take established practices and they allow them to use it as a software, as a service kind of thing, where they pay them a fee and people can go on and see what other clinics are available and book a session with a clinic. It’s a very, very different model than what we’re offering. They’re not truly on-demand because you have to see when that person’s available, when they have an opening. If you want to be seen at 3:00, they’re may not be any physical therapists available at 3:00. There’s no interest in that other company to go out and promote their service because they’re taking, getting their monthly subscription fees from the therapists, and they don’t make any more money every time a new patient goes and sees that session, sees that physical therapist. Really their interest is just signing up as many subscribers. Our interest is going out and promoting the brand, promoting the therapists, and getting them as many patients as possible. We’re truly on-demand. Any time that you want to be seen, wherever you want to be seen in New York City, we’ll see you.
NYLP: How are you getting the patients? You need to grow and the patients are the critical part?
David: So there are two prongs to this. We’re marketing to other businesses, and we’re marketing direct to consumers. The other businesses are refers, which can be anybody from an orthopedist to a pain management doctor, primary care physicians, anyone who might refer a patient to physical therapy. The pitch is simple. We’re not for everyone of your patients. Not everyone is going to want to pay private pay. Not everyone is going to need a service that comes to them. Some people are going to want certain equipment, but there are a segment of the population of patients that you see that this would be perfect for, that are too busy to go out in middle of the day to go to a clinic, don’t necessarily need all that equipment. They really need someone to give them that attention. Maybe they’re coming from overseas so they don’t have insurance locally or they’ve exhausted it, or they have chronic pain and really need a lot of sessions. For that segment of the population of people that see you, refer them to Theryon. They’re really going to appreciate it, because you’re going to provide them with a service that isn’t available elsewhere, and it’s really going to fit in with their schedule and make it happen. It’s really going to make therapy happen for them.
We’re also, on the other side, marketing direct to consumers, which I would say is our biggest hurdle right now. People generally right now, if they need physical therapy, the way they find them is through a doctor, through a refer, and we’re trying to re-educate the marketplace to say, “If you have pain, if you have an injury, you don’t necessarily need to go to your doctor. Your doctor’s just going to send you to physical therapy.” Even worse, they’re going to write out just some pain medication and say, “Oh well just take this. It will make the pain go away and you’ll get better on your own.” Meanwhile, you can get better a lot quicker in a more safe environment, especially with all the problems with opiod addiction today. We’re trying to re-educate the market. We’re trying to market direct to consumers. It is a challenge. People aren’t necessarily thinking that, “Oh I’m just going to see an app for Theryon. I’m going to download the app and see a physical therapist.” It’s taking some time and a lot of creativity but we’re doing it.
Yitz: There’s also a big push now throughout the U.S. Most states now are what we call direct access states. You don’t need a prescription to go to physical therapy. Most people don’t realize that. There’s a huge push by the APTA saying, “Get PT first.” The majority of aches and pains, you don’t even need to go to an orthopedist. They’re just going to end up sending you to physical therapy anyway, and they’re going to do the same tests that the physical therapists are going to do to diagnose you. We are the musculoskeletal specialists out there. Orthopedists are amazing. They feed us everything. They are our bread and butter. In all honesty, there are certain things that, if you sprain your back the orthopedist is going to give you a muscle relaxer, because that’s what you need. If you came straight to a physical therapist, we can start giving you exercises. We might tell you, you know, if you have certain red flags, you might have to go to your primary care physician. For the most part, there are things we could handle and we could handle very quickly and we can start getting you better on day one.
NYLP: That’s very interesting, that you don’t need a prescription for physical therapy. Your insurance will still cover it?
Yitz: So yes. Most insurances will cover you, at least for your first few sessions. Every insurance is different. Some of them might have their referrals, especially if you’re with HMO’s, you need to have that referral. Again, we’re going towards a direct, the private pay thing, so direct access is not an issue. You’re not going to get reimbursed. You could get reimbursed. We will give you a receipt to get reimbursed from your insurance, but for the most part, you don’t need it to start that physical therapy treatment.
NYLP: You can use your flexible spending and your health care savings account, right?
Yitz: Yes, right away.
NYLP: Do you interact with those at all? Do you make it easy for patients to use those?
Yitz: So, most flexible spendings and health savings accounts, they use a credit card right now. It’s the same exact thing. It should work. We do get, provide a receipt after every single session that explains everything. That’s exactly what we need to get reimbursed. We have had somebody who’s done it for out of network benefits, and he’s actually covered almost his entire session. He’s had 80% of the entire fee returned, which comes out to less than his co-pay actually.
NYLP: It seems, from my understanding going to physical therapists, that people want the 6:00 AM, 7:00 AM, maybe the 8:00 AM, and then the after work hours. How do you guys deal with those high peak demand sessions? If you’re dealing with physical therapists who maybe have their own practice or going to studios, they may need to be in the studios at those times that everyone wants, especially in New York City, they want physical therapy those peak times.
David: Most of the therapists that are on the platform have other jobs right now. They’re in the studios. They’re in clinics. Maybe they work three or four days a week, or they have a session … They have some time where they can devote to Theryon. For the most part in those high demand times where people would want to be seen at home, is when people aren’t actually … When the therapists are not actually in the clinics. So, it really works out well for us. When the therapists are available is when the patients would want a therapist in this kind of environment. You know the logistics problem is really not such a problem for us because we’ve done a lot of work in the back end of technology to make it really, really work without too much overhead, without a lot of people in the office trying to figure out who’s going to see what patient. As we grow, I’m sure there will be some growing pains and there will be some issues. One of the things about the company is we want customer service first. We put a lot of emphasis on that, and we want to make sure the patient’s got a great physical therapy experience. We have staff that can handle any issues that come up, any cancellations, any rescheduling that you need. We care about providing people with a very, very convenient session.
NYLP: There’s a lot of talk about there’s an app for that you guys are physical therapy on demand. I’ve seen massage on demand. What’s to stop, let’s say a massage on demand … They have logistics all set up, for them entering your marketplace and saying, “You know what? We want to expand to physical therapy.” Someone’s who’s already developed an app, who has a lot of the back end saying, “We want to expand to this growing market place, these weekend warriors who are all getting injured. We’re going to take on Theryon.”
David: I think they should be worried about us coming into their market.
NYLP: I like that attitude.
David: But really the answer is, two co-founders are physical therapists here with a combined 23, 24 years’ experience, you can’t just break into this market without understanding it. To be able to take on 40 plus therapists of the quality we have as quickly as we did, it takes real insiders. On the other front, we’ve heard recently of a massage company that was trying to do what we did and abandoned it because health care regulations in New York are really out of control. It’s a really heavily regulated marketplace. We’ve hired great attorneys and we’ve figured out how to do it, but it’s not the easiest thing to break into. It took us time, it took us a lot of effort and a lot of thinking about how to do it and to break into this market. There are some barriers to entry. I’m sure that we’ll have other competition and we welcome the competition, because the market’s big enough, and this isn’t the winner take all kind of thing.
NYLP: More people enter, more people are aware of physical therapy on demand. More people are aware that they don’t need prescriptions to get physical therapy.
NYLP: What are some of the regulations that you’ve had to deal with that have been obstacles?
David: Well first it’s a lot easier for a private pay company like us, because there isn’t someone who’s telling us what kind of information we need to record. As we’re working towards accepting insurance, we’re working on building out our built in medical records system, because insurance companies tell you, “You need to record all this sorts of data.” It’s all this kind of stuff that we haven’t been recording until now, we’ve kept things really streamlined and really easy and simple for the therapists. We’re going to be fed up before we start accepting insurance. Another of the interesting regulations that we have is that I’m actually not a physical therapist. There’s a rule in New York that you can’t have non-medical practitioners owning a medical facility. We’ve worked with the lawyers to create the right management using holding companies, to enable me to participate in this business. Theryon really doesn’t provide the physical therapy itself. We are a service, a venue for vetting therapists, for marketing therapists, for handling their booking and administrative expenses, really pairing up patients and therapists, but we don’t actually provide the therapy ourselves, and that’s one of the ways we’ve been able to work this. New York is chock-full of regulations. Those are just a few.
NYLP: And you’re able to get your investors within that ecosystem so that they are able to own a part of the company, even though that they may not be physical therapists?
David: Yes, so the way we’ve structured it now is we’re a holding company that again, is a venue that doesn’t provide therapy ourselves. Any investors that come on would be able to own a piece of the company without having to worry about violating any regulations.
NYLP: How much money did it take for you guys to start it up?
David: We’ve kept it lean. We’ve put in … The partners have put in a little over $100,000 and we were able to raise another $75,000 through friends and family, and that’s been it so far.
NYLP: Overhead’s very small.
David: Overhead’s very small. We have obviously insurance costs. We have a little bit of office space, some of the equipment that we provide to therapists and the marketing and the development has been the real expense. We brought on a few months ago a CTO, who’s been absolutely phenomenal and we’ve been paying him a CTO gets paid with part equity, part salary, but he’s been very flexible and worked with us and he’s been fantastic and brought our development costs down a lot. Extremely lean, we feel that with more capital, we’ll grow this and we’ll scale this even bigger. We’ve been able to do amazing things with a relatively small amount of money.
NYLP: You guys are lean and mean. You’re just starting out. I love this story. What are your goals for the company?
David: The vision is really big. We like to think big and we like to execute well. Really we want to become a marketplace for therapies of all kind. Physical therapy is just one, but we picked the name for the company, Theryon, that isn’t physical therapy specific, because we want to grow beyond that. We want to expand to speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health services, and then yes, get into the business of massage therapy and personal training and others as well. We feel that the cost of customer acquisition is going to come down as brand awareness grows and as people know and recognize us. We’re going to start expanding to other cities as well. So if we launch speech therapy and physical therapy in Chicago and somebody sees that in Dallas, it’s all going to intertwine and going to give us a broader system of customers.
That’s the vision. We want to grow to be that kind of marketplace, where people can turn to us and say, “I need a certain type of therapy. I’m going to go log onto the Theryon app.” There’s a lot of cross selling that can happen there. If somebody uses us for personal training, they may need a massage. They get injured, they may need a physical therapist. Down the road, their children may need some sort of therapy, something maybe hard to find. Certain therapist practice and certain niches that are hard to find, and we’re going to be able to have the reach to find all of those kinds of therapists and provide them to the people who need them.
Yitz: Another thing, which is great talking about going national which is our goal, we have business people that travel all over the U.S. They live in LA, they get injured in LA, they could start seeing Theryon physical therapist there. They come to New York on business for a week, they continue getting therapy and we have in our record, in our EMR, we have all their records for what just happened in LA. You don’t have to worry about … Oh my gosh, I just tore my ACL. I can’t really travel so much because I don’t want to mess my physical therapy up. No, you can get the same care and we have all your records. We really want to be able to build basically a national brand, where you don’t have to worry about where you’re going, when you’re going there, because you’re going to get your physical therapy. You get again, when we get into other therapies, you’re going to be able to continue your entire rehab process the entire time.
NYLP: Right now you’re available exclusively in New York City?
Yitz: New York City, Brooklyn, and Queens.
NYLP: When do you think you’re going to expand to other marketplaces, this national goal?
David: You know, I think we’re going to grow out in the larger New York metropolitan area for the foreseeable future I think by early of next calendar year. We’ll be expanding to another city.
Yitz: We want to make sure we get it proper. We get it down packed. We know our customer, for the most part. We want to make sure we get all our kinks out before we go, before we expand. We’re always nervous about growing too big, too fast. We’re going to get big, we’re going to do it fast, but we don’t want to do it too fast.
NYLP: And you brought this up David. What is your cost of customer acquisition now?
David: That’s tricky. There are some customers that cost us nothing to acquire. It’s just a referral. It’s just a word of mouth. There’s some customers that cost us hundreds of dollars to acquire. The good thing about it is lifetime value here for a particular customer could be well over $1,000. There are some customers that have cost us a few $100 to acquire. It’s still worth it for us, because we acquire a customer, we’re going to give them a great session. We’re going to see them several times, so it’s worth it for us.
NYLP: You did choose to start in New York City. Can you talk about why it was great to start in New York City? The advantages or disadvantages.
Yitz: We chose it mainly because that’s the market we know. Me and Zvi, we know this market. We’ve been in this market for over 20 years together. We know it very well. We know the players. We know the doctors. We know the other physical therapists out there. We know our customers. We basically took our customers we’re treating already and just said, “Okay, we’re going to build an app around them.” We knew this market inside and out. The other thing is New York is the hardest place to probably launch anything. So if we could do it in New York, if we could do it here, we could do it anywhere.
David: And we live here. So it’s convenient for us. My partners are both full-time and I’m part-time. It’s really, really convenient for me that I can participate fully in the business and still carry on with my other activities.
NYLP: That is a perfect place to wrap things up. How do people find out more about you and Theryon?
David: Go to our website, Theryon.com. T H E R Y O N.com You can find us on the app store, Google Play store. Do we have a promo code for the listeners?
Yitz: The code for the listeners over here … We’re going to create one for $50 their first session. NY Launch.
NYLP: Thank you for the code. Yitz Kolodny. David Kupfer. Thank you for stepping onto the New York Launch Pod and sharing your time with us.
Yitz: Thank you for having us.
David: We really appreciate your time. Thank you.
NYLP: And if you want to learn more about the New York Launch Pod, you can visit nylaunchpod.com for transcripts of every episode, including this one. You can follow us on social media at @nylaunchpod and a very special thank you to our friends at Samson Technologies for hosting us in your office, sponsoring this podcast and giving us such fantastic podcast equipment. You should see this equipment. It is amazing.SHARE THIS: