tv Your Business MSNBC May 28, 2016 2:30am-3:01am PDT
good morning. coming up next on msnbc's "your business" mental health care meets the digital age. we sit down with the owners of talk space, a tech space therapy company. a look at startups that are helping consumers save money on medicine and student loans and how one veteran hires other veterans to maintain memorials honoring our fighting men and women. all that and more coming up next on "your business." .
hi, everyone. i'm jj ramberg, and welcome to "your business," the show dedicated to helping your small business grow. may is mental health awareness month, and this week we have a story about a business that's using technology to shake up the traditional approach to psychotherapy. at talk space, the couch and the appointment book are things of the past. unlimited texting, which most of us already do pretty much regularly with our friends, is the new way for you to communicate with your therapist, and while the company's only a few years old, their number-one priority is advancing the conversation about mental health care even if their innovative
approach is controversial. just a few years ago, orrin and ronnie frank's marriage was on the brink of collapse. >> our marriage was falling apart, and we decided to give it a last chance. >> the crisis was a turning point. in a last-ditch effort to save the marriage, they tried couples therapy. >> and for us it was a wonderful experience because it basically taught us how to communicate with each other, and we could see the value, and i could in my head extrapolate the value and see how it applies to so many people. >> therapy saved their marriage. and beyond that, gave them a business idea. >> therapy can make all of us happier, but therapy has some issues. stigma, shame. therapy is costly, which is a nice word for outrageously expensive. >> in 2012, they launched talk space in new york city. their idea was to use technology to replace the traditional therapy office visit with
something more immediate, unlimited texting directly to a licensed therapist for $25 a week. >> i'm just taking my phone, and i'm texting when i feel the need. right now i'm anxious. right now i'm overwhelmed. i'm texting you. it feels so normal because this is how i'm communicating with everyone in my life. >> this is what talkspace looks like today, but it's not what talkspace looked like at launch. that version of the company failed, miserably. >> we started with video therapy, actually group therapy. so five people are splitting the cost so that would make the cost much more affordable. >> we lost a lot of money because we built an entire tech platform to supply that. >> this was uncharted territory for the couple. orrin's background was in marketing, and ronnie only recently completed her masters degree in psycho analysis and psychotherapy. none of them really knew the industry and they weren't sure
if the company would survive. orrin and ronnie faced a big crisis, but this time it was with their business. >> we lost people. we shuttered our offices. we had no money. >> but they saw a glimmer of hope in a very unlikely place. >> we had a link called customer support, and obviously i was sitting there because we were just like two, three people, you know. we just started. i think our clients, our members, interpreted this name to customer clinical support or therapy support, and i started getting hundreds of e-mails telling me about their clinical issues. >> and we said, okay, so we know that people feel very open and very willing to share everything in writing. why don't we do a forum with two people? we tested it. >> turns out all their original ideas about what their customers would want were entirely wrong. >> it teaches you a lesson if
you think you know anything about what users will do and what they prefer and how they will behave. you're probably very wrong. >> after rejiggering the platform, they rebooted the company and quickly got traction with the one-on-one model, a therapist paired with a single client via text, usually on a smartphone. >> if you were to come into my office and sit down, it would feel probably a little bit like formal. if you're on your computer or on your app and you're at home, and you're in your comfort zone and you don't have to like look at me and see, you know, what my reaction's going to be, then maybe it's a little bit easier for you to share things. >> kate denahan is a licensed clinical social worker. she has an office with the proverbial couch but finds the flexibility of clients text her when she's at home much easier and sometimes more effective than the face to face appointment. >> if a client has a very bad day or a crisis happens, they don't have to wait until next week or next month to see me.
so they'll get that immediate response that they're looking for as opposed to holding those feelings, which can sometimes make people feel worse in the end. >> of course therapy via text is new and largely untested, which means it's not without controversy. so orrin and ronnie feel that in order to build the company, they need to build trust in the community. that's why they launched their future of therapy conference. >> ronnie and myself both fell in love with this profession that's called therapy. >> this first-ever gathering arranged by the startup attracted therapists, academics, and experts in mental health. clearly placing talkspace in the crosshairs of an important conversation about modern-day health care. >> the conference, which is inviting people to talk about advantages and the disadvantages in having hopefully a very honest and open discussion about how to make it better all the time is an a necessity. therapy is moving online. it's migrating online. i think most of the people involved with this profession will agree with that statement
now. there needs to be a place, an area in which the discussion is being handled from a point of view of value. >> and they hope that place is talkspace. >> therapy for how we live today. >> talkspace is yet another example of how the digital revolution is disrupting our spending habits. whether it's buying prescription medicine, household items, or even student loans, you'll find there's an app for that. nbc's olivia sterns shines a spotlight on three up and coming startups that are helping consumers find bargains with the tap of a finger. >> reporter: tammy powell, a nurse outside chicago, struggled to pay for her own $400 prescription drug bill. every month, even with insurance, taking cymbalta for neck pain plus medications for high cholesterol and blood pressure, she was searching for coupons. >> when i got to the pharmacy
actually with the coupon, they would run the code, and it wasn't real. >> then she stumbled upon blink health, a new website that offers drugs marked down by as much as 95%. >> almost everyone takes medications at some point in their life, and most people are overpaying. >> blink was founded by brothers matthew and jeffrey chagen to basically bypass insurance companies. >> whether you have good insurance, bad insurance, or no insurance at all, you should check the blink price before going to the pharmacy. >> reporter: here is how blink works. normally your doctor writes a prescription. you go to your insurance company, and the insurance company goes to the drug maker. prices are based on what kind of insurance you have. blink goes straight to the drug maker, so you click on your drug, pay online, and print out the receipt to take to your pharmacy. blink features over 15,000 medications at 60,000 pharmacies nationwide. mostly generics and not the super expensive cutting-edge drugs. but consumer advocates say this approach could be the future. >> a lot of people have high
deductible plans. you may not realize kind of what's going on until you try to actually fill the prescription. >> reporter: back in chicago, tammy says her $422 bill has been cut to just $77 a month. >> what did you think when you saw that at first? >> i wanted to cheer. nobody wants to spend their money on medicine if you don't have to. >> reporter: saving money and time to enjoy life's precious moments. >> three bucks. >> megan and gus rojo buy everything online. >> household goods. we buy furniture, diapers. >> reporter: and like most new parents, they're always looking for new ways to save. >> we saved on that, $2. >> reporter: they're latest trick, parabus, an online service that automatically gets you money back when something you've already bought goes on sale, on average within 20 days. >> we have saved $400 in about 30 purchases in about a year. >> $400? >> yeah. >> reporter: their biggest
savings yet, $270 back on this $1,500 patio set. >> it was awesome. i thought it was an error on the system. >> reporter: eric and careen started paribus three months ago in response to amazon -- >> you wouldn't think that cereal would go 40% off in just a couple of days. >> reporter: here's how it works. sign up online. it then scans your e-mails for receipts and tracks current sale prices on items you bought. when a price drops, paribus gets you the difference and keeps 25%. currently it supports purchases from 18 major retailers. and how do i know that paribus is not reading e-mails from my health insurance or my accountant? >> we just work with a select number of stores. only those stores, those receipts. >> reporter: to be extra safe, you can also set up an e-mail account just for online shopping. >> reporter: and you never see my credit card number? >> that's right.
>> reporter: as for the rojos, they're stashing their savings for a very good cause. >> college for sophia so she can go get her education. >> reporter: six months ago, dave collier ditched his job in the sagging oil industry and signed up for computer coding school. >> apps to be built and people who can do that are going to be valuable. >> reporter: but the tuition put him $16,000 deeper in december. he had $50,000 in loans and needed to refinance fast. that's when he found upstart. >> i was able to consolidate $22,000 worth of credit card debt, cut my rate in half, and accelerate my timeline for getting out of debt by about three years. >> reporter: in fact, upstart brought dave's rate down from as high as 19% to just 8%, saving him fmore than $5,000. it's the brainchild of dave injury ard, his goal to help people just like dave get cheaper credit. >> we're in the business of seeing signals about a person that others don't see.
>> reporter: instead of focusing on your credit history or your fico score, upstart bets on your future. >> fico is inherently backward looking, what you've done with credit in the past. we like to view it as identifying somebody's potential, where they're going. >> reporter: upstart asks where did you go to school? what did you study? how much will you make in the future, and is this a reliable career? upstart is just one of a growing number of companies shaking up the lending industry. but experts warn these new business models aren't proven. >> the jury's going to be out until we're in a recession area environment and delinquencies and defaults go up. that's where you can really see what form of lending what's worth the risk and which was not. >> reporter: risk dave gerard is willing to shoulder while dave collier is looking forward to the future. olivia sterns, nbc news. >> you're onboarding process for new customers is one of the first chances you get to build loyalty. entrepreneur magazine has come up with five ways you can revamp
those early interactions to make sure that you keep your client's business. one, a personalized welcome. customized messages that incorporate someone's name or mentions a specific detail about your business they'd be interested in shows the user that you value their business. two, demonstrate the product. create short videos that walk through the different features your company provides. step-by-step instruction may help your customer see the greater benefit of your service. three, offer assistance. give ongoing support by adding a live chat feature to your site or 24-hour customer service by phone. four, showcase success stories. have satisfied users share their past experiences working with you. this will help others feel confident that you can also deliver for them. and, five, follow up. engage with your client regularly after they've made their first purchase so you'll stay top of mind when they may need your services again.
the best way to get new customers or new clients is through a referral, and that is often the cheapest way as well. so how do you get people to refer you? ivan mizener has some ideas. he's the founder of bni, a business networking and referral organization, and he's co-author of the new book "avoiding the networking disconnect, the three r's to reconnect." so good to see you, ivan. >> thank you, jj. i appreciate being on the show. >> we love having you. this is such an important topic because getting current customers to recruit new ones for you could be the cheapest way that you can have an acquisition for a new customer. >> absolutely. it's the most inexpensive form of advertising is word of mouth and referrals, no doubt about it. >> so let's figure out how you get people to do it. i mean i know for some products, i use them and i just love them so much, i'm automatically talking about them. but other things, i may not even think to tell my friends. how do i get my clients to
actually start talking about me? >> well, you're absolutely right. we often don't talk about the products that we love. people are more likely to talk about your business when they're mad at your business than when they're happy with your business. it's very important to teach people how to refer you. one of the first things that i recommend, though, is -- and this is really counterintuitive to almost anything you'll hear. don't ask right away. what tends to happen is people will meet someone, and they'll go, hi, my name is ivan. you know, maybe we can do business or you can refer other people to me. it's a huge mistake to do that. it's very important to invest in the social capital in a relationship with someone before you start asking for referrals. i call this premature solicitation, you know, where you ask for business too early. by the way, don't say that three times fast, it will get you in trouble. >> so you're not talking about current clients or customers. you're just talking about someone who you've met, who you feel could be helpful for you.
so then you talk about building a power team, which is in essence sort of like, i'm guessing, an advisory board though informal, people who you can go ask stuff of. >> yeah. it's different than an advisory board. there might be some similarities, but it really is different. what i'm talking about is a power team. it's also called a contextture. there's some examples. a lawyer, a baenker, a financia planner and a cpa. you put those four or five people in a room for an hour, they're going to do business because they have clients that have similar needs. here's my favorite one. the caterer, the florist, the photographer, the travel agent. i call that the wedding mafia. once they bring you in, they don't let you out. what you want to do is surround yourself with those kinds of professions, those that are simbiotic to yours. they're compatible, non-competitive. what happens is you can refer business to each other at a much more dramatic ratio than, you
know, just the average business person that you might have a relationship with. so build out your power teams. >> all right. and you also talk about getting visible, and i imagine this is because if you are visible, people know that you're out and about, or they know the name of the your company. they're going to automatically trust you a little bit more and want to help you? >> yeah. you know, listen, the foundation of everything that i teach is this concept of vcp, visibility, credibility, profitability. it begins with being visible. you have to be out there. people have to know who you are and what you do. >> mm-hmm. >> then you have to establish credibility, where people know who you are. they know what you do. they know you're good at it. then and only then can you get to profitability, where people know who you are, they know what you do, they know you're good at it, and they're willing to give you referrals on an ongoing reciprocal basis. it begins with visible. networking is a contact sport. you've got to get out there. >> to your point, you should give referrals for other people. don't just always expect people to do stuff for you. and don't do it -- this is my
big beef. don't do it as a quid pro quo. i do this for you, now i expect something back. do is because this is a nice person. you know this person needs something. this person, connect them, it doesn't take much. >> you nailed it on the head. that's exactly right. if networking when referral marketing become a transactional process, i tell you what, if you do this for me, i'll do that for you, i call that coin operated networking. i'm going to put the coin in. give me the candy. if you do it like that, it's all wrong. you have to do it with the idea you're trying to build a relationship. one of the best ways to build a relationship is to help someone that you like, know, like, and trust. so in my organization, bni, we practice this philosophy i called giver's game. you have to give business to people. you have to help and sort people. you have to have a relational process. if you do that, you're going to get business in return. >> ivan, thank you so much for coming on. networking is so incredibly important. referrals, you can't buy them, so it's great. really appreciate you stopping
by. >> thank you. with memorial weekend coming up, we thought we'd revisit the story of an army veteran turned entrepreneur who's made it his mission to hire troops returning to civilian life. he says that hiring our country's finest is both an important way to give back and a smart way to build up his workforce with dedicated, committed employees. in 1987, kevin knight joined the army, fulfilling a dream he had had since he was a kid. but just two years later, that dream was destroyed when he was injured during a training drill. he was no longer considered fit for duty. rod kurtz talked to him about getting the news. >> that must have been devastating. >> very devastating. it was devastating to hear that your lifelong dream that you've always wanted to do cannot be fulfilled. i recall sitting in the doctor's chair, and i was just crying. just crying because i didn't know what the next round was going to be.
>> after heading home, kevin graduated from college and spent some time working under ceos of big corporations. but his fellow soldiers were never far from his thoughts. >> i wanted to serve my country. basically i said i want to try to do something that i can do to get back to my fellow veterans. >> so he started knight solutions in 2005. the company specializes in construction and maintenance of v.a. hospitals and cemeteries. >> the v.a. or the national cemetery administration has a focus to bring all the cemeteries up to a shrine status. so knight solutions wanted to be a part of that. i knew by getting the opportunity to do work at the national cemetery would allow me to also bring on some veterans wherever we operate throughout the country. >> ricardo daniels is one of the veterans knight solutions has hired to service contracts nationwide, maintaining the winchester national cemetery is a way for ricardo to pay respect to those who came before him. >> it makes me, as a veteran,
feel honored to be able to serve these individuals who have given their lives to us. and i don't even know them. >> currently, about a third of the workforce are veterans, and kevin says army strong isn't just a recruiting slogan. it's a way to know that those employees will also be company strong. >> i like hiring veterans because i know if you lay out the mission, you tell them where we're going to be, at the end of the day, we're going to get there. especially working in the cemeteries. they take ownership of that. they feel like, hey, i'm taking care of my brother or my sister that i served with. >> with each new job that comes in, kevin starts with calls out to local veteran offices. the organization's help connected knight solutions with people in their networks that may be a good fit. those candidates are then interviewed and some are chosen for the job. >> once they come back home, you know, they're looking not for a handout but a hand up, you know. they're looking for someone that's an employer, that will understand, you know, i've
served my country, and now i'm here to try to serve my family. >> kevin's own experience has made him particularly skilled at working with other veterans. >> you're dealing with guys who have seen things that you could never even imagine. they've seen things that may come back to them at any time. >> kevin says that if you offer veterans clear access to the help they need and prepare your management staff to handle these unique situations, these risks are no more than when you add any other new hire to the team. for christopher pan coast, who served on tours in afghanistan and iraq, having an employer who understands that the transition back into civilian life isn't always easy is especially meaningful. >> my wife was a fellow reservist, and i just recently lost her in combat action, in a combat zone. so i'm still dealing with some personal trauma issues and dealing with my own crisis in my own way. and knight solutions has been very good to me. >> the veteran organizations can
also be an additional resource to help employees that are struggling get back on track. >> we have an open line of communications with a lot of our employees. we're here to help and support them along the way. >> and knight solutions has found that hiring these men that have served our country faithfully is both good for the country and good for business. >> i always like to ask people why not? why not hire someone who's giving us, americans, the opportunities to do what we do every day? why not? the skills they have the skills we learn while serving. this gives you that opportunity to complete the cycle of life for these veterans, for these guys who have made a commitment to serve the united states of america, where we all live and eat and breathe every day. more great advice to help you fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams, including how to juggle all of your social media and actually have time left to run your business. and how a pop-up retail business model may be one that could work for you.
will your business be ready when growth presents itself? our new cocktail bitters were doing well, but after one tradeshow, we took off. all i could think about was our deadlines racing towards us. a loan would take too long. we needed money, now. my amex card helped me buy the ingredients to fill the orders. opportunities don't wait around, so you have to be ready for them. find out how american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at open.com. catherine writes, i'd like to know some tips on how to make sure i get to everything as a small business owner. there's so much to do, website design, blogging, facebook,
instagram. >> catherine, the good news is that you don't have to get to everything. you just have to get to the things that are important and that are going to have the most impact for your small business. so as small business owners, i get it. everyone's really busy. focus on the things that are going to give you the highest roi. my best advice, start with your website. that's where your going to convert most of your visitors into potential customers or clients. invest in that. invest in a couple of key platforms where you feel you're getting a lot of traffic and where your audience is at. we now have the top two tips you need to help your small business grow. let's introduce our panel and get their advice. serial entrepreneur jen gruber is the founder of lifestyle brangd, and brian brak even is founder of kie rose, a facial recognition company. so great to see both of you. jen, you always some new venture bubbling up. what's one thing you've learned from growing companies or starting companies or selling
them? >> the biggest thing i'm focused on right now is pop-up retail and how it really helps entrepreneurs scale their business quickly as well as get product recognition. touch base with their customers, get marketing by being out there. it creates a low-risk point of entry into retail distribution. gives visibility to other stores that might want to carry your product in the long term. and also it helps you in getting media because sometimes media doesn't want to cover product lines that are just online. they want to feel like they're more legitimate, and there's a place that people can go and touch and feel. so pop-up retail is a short-term, low-risk way to enter the market space, get distribution, be in a mall or a shopping center. >> all right. brian, what's one tip that you have that you've learned from building your business? >> i think social media is really, really important, right? i think we all know that, but how you execute it is really important. so the words themselves, you've got to write on a level that everyone can understand. it's easy to digest. don't do your, you know, college thesis on social media. slim it down a bit. you can use products like ibm
watson to figure out how it's being received, what grade level it's being written on. >> so tell us about ibm watson. you put your text in there, and then what happens? >> correct. you put your text in, and it gives you some personality insights. it tells you the feelg and emotions around what you're writing, and it's also the grade level. >> what grade level do you want to be? >> you want to be between three and nine. >> wow, i think actually i won't say the grade level for right now, but just the idea of speaking in normal language, it's how we should think about everything, right? if someone comes in and speaks in jargon, i think the world is different now. you're not seen as smarter as maybe perhaps you were many years ago. people are just thinking, i don't understand what you're saying. just speak in english. >> relatable. >> plmake it relatable. >> you can take a complex concept and make it simple, that's a skill now. >> great advice from both of you who have both built successful
companies. congratulations on your careers as well. >> thank you. >> thank you. this week's your biz selfie comes from dana rader. she owns one of the top golf schools in the u.s. according to golf magazine. why don't you put down the putter and pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of you and your business. send it to us here at your business at msnbc.com or tweet it to @msnbc your biz. no professional photos, please. we want selfies. thanks so much for joining us today. we hope you enjoyed the show. we'd love to hear from you. so if you have any questions or comments, just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to our website at openforum.com slash yourbusiness. we posted all of the segments from today's show plus a lot more. don't forget to connect with us on our digital and social media platforms as well. next week, we head over to napa valley, where a latino
millennial is leading the charge of growing a family wine business. >> it's hard when the younger brother is telling the older brother what to do or the father. but we work so well together that we understand, and we see the vision all together, all three of us. >> we'll see how this family with deep roots in the wine industry is learning to adapt to changing times and working together towards a common goal. till then, i'm jj ramramberg, a remember we make your business our business. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? our new cocktail bitters were doing well, but after one tradeshow, we took off. all i could think about was our deadlines racing towards us. a loan would take too long. we needed money, now. my amex card helped me buy the ingredients to fill the orders.
opportunities don't wait around, so you have to be ready for them. find out how american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at open.com. happy friday. whether or not you get a three-day weekend for memorial day, i think it's a good idea to keep an eye on the news on the friday before any holiday weekend. without fail, there is always late-breaking news on the friday before a holiday weekend. like by late-breaking, breaking after 7:00 p.m. news that somebody has tried to submarine into a news cycle that a lot of people are not going to be catching up with until the following tuesday. we talk all the time on the show about a friday night news dump. that's what we name our game show on friday nights. the friday before a holiday weekend, that's friday night news dump on steroids. and i'm here to tell you we do have some exclusive news of the