Hopscotch, an alumni company of the 2020 eLab cohort, is working to tackle the mental health crisis among children in the U.S. The startup provides a free library of over 100 interactive games and activities for pediatric behavioral health clinicians to use in therapy sessions. Hopscotch also offers patients online appointments with providers in their network.
The idea for Hopscotch came to CEO and cofounder Marla Leana Beyer, MBA/MHA ’20, when she worked on behavioral health studies at an upstate hospital. In her work there, she connected with families, their children, and their providers.
“I was able to get a really full sense of the type of challenges this industry faces,” Beyer said. “What struck me is how providers who work with this population don’t have a set of tools to really effectively engage their clients and their clients’ families — not only in-session, but also to promote continuous engagement beyond the office.”
As much as 80 percent of children with diagnosed behavioral health conditions go untreated. Additionally, there is a national shortage of clinicians who specialize in treating children with conditions like mood disorders, attention deficit disorder, and anxiety.
Beyer developed her solution to this pressing issue throughout her two-year MBA and MHA dual-degree program. She credited eLab with giving her the tools to get her business started.
“It was a really great way to get our hands dirty in entrepreneurship and learn a little bit more about the process — from doing customer discovery all the way to building out an MVP [minimum viable product] prototype and beginning to test,” Beyer said.
After graduating in 2020, Beyer decided to work on Hopscotch full time. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing clinicians to hold therapy sessions online rather than in person, Beyer felt that her startup could help pediatric behavioral health clinicians and their patients.
“I felt really strongly that this industry was going to be facing huge changes with respect to virtual care delivery,” she said.
Beyer met her cofounder Biju Kalissery, a tech entrepreneur in Boston, through a networking group. They launched Hopscotch in February 2021 with about 1,600 providers.
In Hopscotch’s first year, the team won the $25,000 first prize at Blackstone LaunchPad’s 2021 Grind Pitch Competition against 60 other teams. Also, the New York City-based Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, a leading tech accelerator, has provided funding for the startup.
“It’s been very exciting to build something from the ground up with an amazing team,” Beyer said.
Since launching a year ago, Hopscotch has grown substantially. The startup now represents more than 3,000 clinicians, including clinical social workers, licensed mental health counselors, and licensed marital and family therapists.
“I think the growth of the user base really validated the fact that clinicians are looking for more modernized tools to better support their patients, especially now that they’re doing more telehealth,” Beyer said.
Currently, Beyer is working to broaden access to Hopscotch for families with financial constraints. She is leading contract negotiations contracts commercial insurers, and she also hopes to eventually accept Medicaid.
“Especially given the context of the world we’re in with COVID, and all the struggles our children and teens are facing, it’s really exciting to be building something that is directly addressing such an important issue,” Beyer said.