Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rebecca Egger, Co-Founder, and CEO of Little Otter, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

In the midst of the pandemic, my mother and renowned child psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Egger, and I launched Little Otter. Little Otter is the nation's 1st fully digital, results-driven telehealth company focused on providing evidence-based mental health care for children 0-14 and their entire families. Little Otter was designed by the world's experts in childhood mental health and is delivered fully virtually through their state-of-the-art platform to the comfort of your home. Little Otter's customers are ultimately families, but especially parents, grandparents, and caregivers.

Why did we launch Little Otter? Before the pandemic, reports stated that 1 in 5 U.S children had mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders, and 72% of counties in the U.S do not have a single child psychiatrist. Now we see the severity of the situation and that the pandemic has only exacerbated those numbers and led to a full-blown crisis. Yet, despite advances in the science and practice of pediatric mental health over decades, few families can find care – 80% of U.S children do not receive any care. Furthermore, for the few that can access care, it is impossible to track the reliability of if they are getting quality, evidence-based care that is working.
Little Otter fills this gap in accessibility. Little Otter blends digital tools, data science, and top-tier mental health providers to streamline diagnostics and seamlessly connects families to providers, offering high-quality virtual pediatric mental health care at scale. By providing the ability to virtually meet with a therapist, parents and families are able to access a pediatric practice for mental health with ease. After completing a quick, 10-minute assessment, Little Otter delivers a personalized care plan unique to your needs.

At Little Otter, we always say, "You do not bring a problem child to Little Otter. You join as a family." We know that parent mental health has a huge impact on child mental health and parenting, as does conflict in the co-parenting relationship. Little Otter addresses a family's mental health needs in an integrated and holistic way that no other pediatric digital mental health is doing.

Tell us about yourself

I am the CEO and co-founder of the children's mental health app Little Otter. I have more than ten years of experience in medical technology, specializing in product design and data analytics. Most recently, working as the 20th employee at the Chan Zuckerberg Institute, building the infectious disease program to a $10 million annual program and developing an app to help developing nations respond to large-scale health events. Before that, I was with Palantir, where I saw first-hand how effective it is to empower companies to integrate their data, decisions, and operations with modern software for fully interactive human-driven, machine-assisted analysis. I also have an astrophysics and computer science background, having worked with NASA while still in high school as an undergraduate.

In addition to the lack of access to quality care and the current mental health crisis, Little Otter was born out of our lived experiences as a family and as professionals. In 2009, my younger brother was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune brain disorder called autoimmune encephalitis. Despite many privileges and the overall excellent care he received, we experienced first-hand that current medical and mental health systems do not put families at the center of care. Although my mother is a doctor and was a tenured faculty member at a major medical center, we encountered many experiences where medical experts dismissed her insights and treated us as uncooperative when we had questions.

That's why quality care, not simply care, is the foundation of Little Otter's care model and platform. We wanted to build a care model that would guarantee better results and prevent harm. Not only that, but we've created a measurement-based triage and care journey that ensures that the right child gets the right care at the right time. Little Otter does rigorous diagnostic evaluations, treatment plans, and tracking of outcomes under the leadership of a world expert in measurement. We know families are searching for better care for their families, just as my family did. And we want Little Otter to be a resource to help families understand "when to worry" and how to help their children and family thrive.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Since its launch in 2021, Little Otter has seen 45 percent month-over-month growth, reflecting the unprecedented demand among families. Furthermore, 85 percent of Little Otter families have reached clinical improvements within just six sessions.

Little Otter's strong focus on innovation to constantly improve patient triage and care delivery is the foundation for the company's ultimate goal: to provide state-of-the-art mental health care because all families deserve the best care for their children. Little Otter recently raised $22 million in Series A funding led by CRV with participation from Torch Capital, Vast Ventures, Hinsdale, BoxGroup, Able, Carrie Penner Walton, G9, Springbank Collective, along with strategic angels. This new financing brings the company's total funding to $26.75 million and will fuel growth and scale for the company, currently available in California, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and most recently Washington DC, and slated to be completely national in 2023. In addition, the company is investing heavily in its state-of-the-art tech and data platform with plans to become an in-network benefit by fall 2022.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

"There is no one to save you, and all the responsibility ultimately falls on you."

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't wait to get started and project in parallel.
  2. You have to make big decisions and be ok with taking heavy risks.
  3. Create a really strong support system.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

"Think big-  for me, that is wanting physical and mental health to be synonymous, and I want Little Otter to help create a revolution. Providing support for every family with children 0-14, but in order to do that and keep that goal in mind, I have to be focused and choose what to say no to."

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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