Kirby Montgomery announced the acquisition of TheraWe earlier this week, but — in a nod to “evening entrepreneurism” — the founder won’t actually go full-time with the startup he created three years ago until Monday.
TheraWe — a HIPAA-compliant mobile video platform that bridges the gap between pediatric therapy centers and families at home — recently was purchased by New York-based Rethink Autism, Montgomery said, amplifying the Kansas City startup’s potential and taking the founding team into a new phase.
“They acquired our tech, our customers and our team to come work with them and really build out the next generation of parent engagement in the time post-COVID, as parents learn to interact both face-to-face and remotely through video conferencing,” he said.
Financial details of the deal were undisclosed.
Click here to read about TheraWe’s time in the 2019 Launch Health Accelerator.
TheraWe’s team — which also was led by CEO Kaitlin Doyle, a pediatric occupational therapist — is expected to work remotely from the New York office starting Monday, Montgomery said, noting it’ll be his first full day on the job. Throughout the startup’s development, he has worked for Kansas City-based financial services leader MSTS, most recently as director of international product management and director of UX design.
“It’s the end of a chapter,” Montgomery said, noting the startup’s journey. “It was really fun to be scrappy, to figure things out on our own, learn to fundraise and build a team, find our place in the ecosystem in Kansas City. But our dream was to build a meaningful company, and this felt like a good opportunity to exit.”
Click here to read Montgomery’s commentary on the tribe that helped make TheraWe’s exit possible.
TheraWe — a Digital Sandbox KC recipient and past Pure Pitch Rally competitor — will continue as a product offering from Rethink Autism, which is expected to help accelerate Montgomery’s vision faster than through fundraising and building the team locally more slowly, he said.
“Rethink Autism already has a really strong relationship with parents today,” Montgomery said, noting critical mission alignment between the brands. “They have a business line where they provide parent support to parents of kids with autism, working with businesses like Amazon and other Fortune 500 companies.”
“We saw the opportunity to further our own mission very quickly by growing the number of parents we interact with,” he continued. “We could be working with 20,000 parents very soon, as opposed to getting there all on our own.”
The team from TheraWe is expected to work horizontally on parent engagement and solutions across Rethink Autism’s three verticals: clinical, benefits and schools, Montgomery said.
Already acquainted through a previous commercial partnership, Rethink Autism approached TheraWe about an acquisition amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, just as the startup was defying the odds and showing momentum.
“We’d been rocking and rolling, and we released Version 1 of our platform in January,” Montgomery said. “We were working on sales leads and bringing on our first customers, then the pandemic hit — and our pipeline grew very quickly. The tool that we have helps provide a connection to parents and their therapy providers in a HIPPA-compliant way whenever they’re not face-to-face. So it’s remote parent engagement and that’s obviously very applicable during the pandemic.”
“It was already weird timing for everybody, but then to have a conversation that you dream about: someone wanting to acquire your company and make it bigger and more successful …”
Exiting is a dream years in the making, Montgomery said, recalling the startup’s classroom origins as his thesis project for a Masters degree from the University of Kansas.
“When I finished my thesis presentation, one of my advisors — who was a pediatric therapist — said ‘Great! When is the platform going to be ready?’” he said, laughing. “Three years later, I’m getting to work on it full-time after being through every iteration on TheraWe from the $2,000 prototype to fundraising our pre-angel round and everything under the sun.”