As a speech language pathologist, Robyn learned how difficult it could be for some families – especially those in rural areas – to make it to in-person appointments. After losing her mother to breast cancer, Robyn founded Kids Uncomplicated on her mother's legacy of service and love of helping children. She decided it was time to bring the experts to families via technology, connecting speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists to families in real-time or through videos recorded by parents. Now for more than ten years, Kids Uncomplicated has provided high-quality clinical and family support services for children and families with complex needs who may need development in areas such as language, communication and social skills, daily living skills and adaptive behaviour, cognitive skills, motor development, and sensory regulation.
Robyn didn't stop there though. She also led the company to develop Teleroo™ technology which gives families, educators, and clinicians access to the professional supports and information they need to be effective in their homes, communities and workplaces. Kids Uncomplicated is now part of Robyn's larger company, The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group.
It's been an incredible year for Robyn and her team. As one of the recipients of the prestigious Straight A Fund, the company will now be able to use Teleroo™ Technology to support select school districts in Ohio, expanding their reach across borders to provide parents and teachers with customized intervention strategies to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities in an efficient and effective manner. Robyn considers winning this funding their biggest success of 2016. "It's very unlikely for a Canadian technology to win this fund, so for Teleroo™ to be validated like that and invested in with US grant money is amazing."Starting out as hardware to be used internally, Teleroo™ has gone through multiple stages of development, into a software, and is now living in the cloud so that it can be scaled internationally. "It's so important for service-based companies to embrace technology. Otherwise, scaling globally is a human resources nightmare. If you can use technology, you can allow for concentration – it gets rid of geographic boundaries."
This expansion opportunity has not come without its challenges. "We're a scale-up, not a start-up, and having people understand that we are trying to build something new while still running the operations of the service company has been extremely difficult, especially for a small company."Robyn ran into problems with getting support from traditional and commercial lenders. When she applied to Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) for a loan she had been bootstrapping and spending significant amounts of money just to get a proper valuation on her company. "AWE was amazing. They were the only ones who actually did debt-financing for us and didn't bury us from an administrative perspective in the process.”
Fortunately for The Uncomplicated Family, the economic downturn has not had the same negative effects it has been having on so many other companies. "I don't think it's affected us negatively, in fact I think it's affected us positively in the sense that government departments are realizing they need to be more efficient with their budgets but cannot compromise on quality. Even though budgets are being cut across government ministries, parents are discovering they can still find excellent services for their children using non-traditional methods – that's where innovation comes in."This change in mindset has led people to realize there are different ways in which they can meet their needs with the services The Uncomplicated Family provides.
Through Robyn's journey with her group of companies she found support through the programs offered by Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. "I first got involved through the funding AWE offered. I learned about that program and then realized there's this whole network of women entrepreneurs. What inspired me was to have other women that were going through some of the same challenges as I was. Through PeerSpark™, AWE created a venue for us to be able to learn together, to share our stories, and our obstacles. I think that's really critical for entrepreneurs."
As she was busy building the Uncomplicated Family into the successful company that it now is, Robyn was not immune to the self-doubt many entrepreneurs feel. "There are days when I would wonder, 'What made me think I could lead a technology company to a global market?' You have moments like that, and just to receive positive feedback that you are doing a good job and have the support of fellow entrepreneurs makes a big difference."
After the incredible growth opportunities The Uncomplicated Family has worked towards, it will be amazing to see their expansion plan unfold. "In 5-10 years I see the Uncomplicated Family serving at least 1 million children, in multiple countries across the world. Teleroo™ has a broad reach and the potential to be of benefit to so many other vulnerable populations too. At some point, I will move out of the CEO role in order to pursue other passions. There are other social causes I feel I have a contribution to make towards but I want to complete my work with these populations first. I want to see the world and to have a significant impact.”
The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group
The Uncomplicated Family is a progressive health innovation company enhancing the quality of life for individuals, families and communities who are affected by disabilities. The team includes: Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Family Support Personnel, Software Developers and Engineers, Researchers, Psychologists and more.
This success story is provided by Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) – dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses