Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gerard Ilaria, co-founder of BLS Remote, located in New York City, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At BLS Remote, we are the inventors and manufacturers of the only device that allows trauma therapists to treat patients with trauma remotely using EMDR psychotherapy in the same way they would in their offices. Years before COVID changed the way we do therapy, we discovered that trauma patients who did not live near trained trauma therapists were unable to get the same care as those who did. We set out to create a device and web interface that allowed patients to get the same EMDR treatment they could in a provider's office, using bi-lateral tactile stimulation that is controlled by the therapist through a phone or a computer, and experienced instantaneously by a patient many miles away, in-state, or anywhere in the U.S. or internationally. After piloting this for 2 years and after 4 iterations, BLS Remote is now sold to therapists as well as clients who use EMDR therapy anywhere in the world. We will soon be selling the device as a meditation aid to reach a wider wellness-focused audience.
Tell us about yourself
I am a licensed clinical social worker for over 33 years and am also an entrepreneur. I have spent decades working with traumatized marginalized patient populations both in NYC at Weill Cornell Medicine and in rural, regional hospitals. I first got my start in business in fashion retail at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC after college, buying for 50 stores nationally. Later, I built my own e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar store for 7 years.
BLS Remote came out of a clinical need, and once we saw how well it worked, we knew we needed to replicate it to get it into the hands of more clinicians and patients who want to do the challenging and life-altering work of trauma processing with EMDR therapy. I see a number of my own trauma patients and run a large trauma program, so I am motivated each day to resolve people's trauma through effective cutting-edge therapies like EMDR.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am excited to hear how well our product works and, more importantly, how satisfied our customers, both therapists, and patients, are with it. With the help of our product, people are being restored to mental health in a way they never could be before in a remote or virtual environment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
So much of what we do today as manufacturers depends on the supply chain and other challenges brought on by the pandemic. Also, as a smaller company, we need to fight to get to the front of the line for priority in everything. This will change as our company grows.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I would say you need to be passionate about what you are doing, you need to be sure that it is profitable, and you need to think creatively to get your product or service in front of customers.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am passionate about treating trauma in people- we have all seen so much of it in our lives and in our countries, from the COVID pandemic to violence, war, and assault on our liberties and communities. EMDR is an extremely effective tool to treat trauma, and to be able to do this remotely with our product is an amazing thing to be able to offer.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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