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Meet Yuri Tomikawa of Zencare in South End

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yuri Tomikawa.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m the Founder and CEO of Zencare, a website for millennials to find their ideal talk therapist. I started Zencare out of a frustration searching for a therapist myself. I was seeking therapy for career related stress but dealt with countless logistical barriers in the process: fees listed online were inaccurate, therapists wouldn’t respond or tell me they were full practice and there was so much uncertainty of personal fit. I built Zencare to help others avoid this hassle and instead, have a successful and empowering experience finding a therapist!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Building a company inevitably comes with its set of challenges. When I started, I knew little about entrepreneurship and had zero coding knowledge. This required me to start scrappy. I studied coding, built my own website, improved my photography skills to do therapist photoshoots myself and read a lot about entrepreneurship.

I think every founder faces similar concerns related to finances, growth and self-doubt. Personally, I find it especially hard to face rejection or criticism because it feels so personal! The most important lessons I’ve learned to overcome these concerns are to trust my gut, build thicker skin to be resilient and see every small setback as an opportunity for improvement.

Please tell us about Zencare.
Our goal at Zencare is to make finding a therapist smooth and pleasant. We enable users to check up-to-date availability and insurances, browse therapist videos and book free initial calls to find a great fit. Most importantly, our clinicians are individually vetted by our team, with guidance from our Medical Advisor, to ensure that each user receives high quality care.

I started Zencare as a solution to a common, overdue problem: difficulty finding a great therapist who fits your preferences. Since its founding three years ago, Zencare has evolved into a network of nearly 200 therapists across Rhode Island, Massachusetts and soon, New York and Connecticut!

The best part of my work is reading testimonials from users. Because this company was born out of my own experience, it’s incredibly fulfilling feeling knowing that I’m able to make this daunting process easier for others.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
Digital innovation in the healthcare space is slower than other startup fields because of the importance of ensuring quality concerns and the unique unit economics of healthcare. That said, it’s exciting to see startups developing useful tools for mental health, including secure video conferencing platforms, peer support apps, and billing software. Venture investment in mental health startups has nearly quadrupled since 2014 and I’m excited to see more companies use technology to improve access and reduce costs.

My hope is that the mental health industry will continue to see further growth, as stigma lowers, access increases and more people and institutions see it as an integral part of personal health overall.

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