Being an early stage company during COVID-19: A positively changed roadmap

As the country is starting to open up, we are focused on the long-term good that is happening in school communities everywhere through the adoption of online learning. Here’s how we have responded to the crisis as a company.

Being an early stage edtech company during a worldwide pandemic certainly altered our 2020 path. Writing this blog back in December, none of us had any idea what was headed our way. It was meaningful amongst today’s uncertainty to reflect on the positive outcomes of the past few months. 

We accept the challenge is the core value that speaks to my heart most often. Being only a year old as a company when COVID-19 first hit, faced with a quarantine and sales strategy that was no longer relevant, we had some really tough conversations as a team. We committed to being open about our struggles, agile in our approach, and to trust the decisions we were making in real time.

As the country is starting to open up, we are focused on the long-term good that is happening in school communities everywhere through the adoption of online learning. Here’s how we have responded to the crisis as a company.


Overall growth

Then: Revenue drives everything, including our mission and the good we seek to bring into the world. That said, as our sales and marketing team grows, we will be looking for consumers who are looking for us-- identifying our ideal customers that is. At this early stage especially, it’s important to have school partners that are needing what we offer and motivated to solve their recurring therapist shortage challenge. 

Now: Everyone needs us. As industry leaders, that is. Over half of schools don’t have enough therapists to meet the demand of school-based provision of services but now every educator needs to know how to deliver online instruction and a platform to enable that effective connection and learning.


Sales strategy

Then: We are defining who our ideal customers are, where they are, and how we best communicate with them, which leads into our marketing goal of being industry leaders in the way we present content that’s actually valuable and approachable. 

Now: Our traditional outbound sales stopped the Monday after the pandemic was announced. We shifted to an 'all hands on deck' approach to help our current school partners navigate distance learning plans and proving timely, high value content wherever we could. Talking about things that matter like the health of our families and equitable solutions for moving learning online became our top priorities. 



Then: Being that teletherapy is an emerging practice, especially in the school setting, we want to grow the number of people that are aware of the service enough to consider it in planning for their upcoming school year. This is a big goal that requires us to think outside the box, which we love to do, and above all else, be consistent. 

Now: COVID-19 did this for us. The silver lining in a horrible pandemic. 



Then: On the clinical side of the house- the individuals delivering the life-changing services to students everywhere- we are roadmapping the training and support needed to enable a true Students First culture. We want every therapist to be able to sit down at their computer, energized and enabled to do their best work. 

Now: In the rapid adoption of online learning, it made sense to accelerate the vision of service expansion. We are no longer just offering speech therapy. We are now providing special education and related services- to all students, from anywhere. The clinical team has done an exceptional job taking the time to build. Because that’s what our industry needs right now. We are grateful to be participating in online learning conversations with school leaders across the country and be able to add value with our widened expertise. 



Then: Our vision is to deliver the highest quality online services to more students, easier. This involves everything from supporting our therapists in planning and delivering therapy to measuring and communicating outcomes seamlessly. 

Now: I did what any CEO having never gone through a pandemic did the first week we realized things wouldn’t be normal for a very long time- called on my advisors. The best advice, besides making sure I had tremendous empathy for the different experiences of my team, was to run as fast as we can toward scale. Enabling the scale of online services rests in technology. We raised money, expanded our roadmap to include supporting school employees in the delivery of telepractice, and ran as fast as possible to a new platform deliverable that could meet the needs of every school. I now have so much respect for the talent of product managers.


The Team

Then: We are better together and are prioritizing structures and programs that allow us to lead inspired, balanced and growth-focused lives.

Now: To say I’ve been impressed by our team throughout this time is understated. We have connected as humans more than ever before. We’ve cried together, we’ve laughed at the circus that is working from home with the whole family, and we’ve had tremendous appreciation for each other. I am inspired by the commitment to our vision and balancing every responsibility that entered each of our lives when the world stopped. 


Leading is never easy because it requires continual growth. Yet we’ve seen exceptional leadership everywhere we look, and we know it’s making us stronger. Better together.


School leaders, you are visionaries and problem solvers.

Educators, you are creative and flexible.

Parents, you are committed. 

Students, you are resilient. You inspire us. Thank you.

Posted by

Emily Smith, Founder & CEO

Emily Smith is the Founder and CEO of TeleTeachers, a Chicago-based telehealth services company working with schools to ensure every student has the opportunity to communicate, learn, and thrive- no matter where they live.