KC Startup StartTalking Helps Clients Connect with Counseling
by James Hart
When someone seeks help with a mental illness, “it takes a lot of gumption to walk in the office the first time,” said Mark Nolte, the founder of local startup StartTalking.io.
That’s why the company has created an online platform that lets users connect with a psychologist, counselor or life coach via computer, tablet, smartphone—even text message. StartTalking recently was approved for $150,000 in Kansas tax credits.
The startup’s mission is personal for Nolte, who was treated for depression about five years ago. Because he was able to able to receive assistance, he’s living a happier, more productive life today. And he wants to make it easier and less intimidating for others to connect with that kind of service.
A 20-minute session costs $25. It’s for $35 for 30 minutes and $60 for 50 minutes—affordable enough that customers could pay out of pocket. (That’s another barrier for some: They’re reluctant to use company insurance for fear their employer will find out.)
How the Tax Credits Will Work
StartTalking recently got some great news from the Kansas Department of Commerce. The startup has been approved for $150,000 in special tax credits that can help recruit investors.
If an investor puts $100,000 into StartTalking, the company can provide that individual with $50,000 in tax credits, which can be spread out over five years.
But the tax credits come with a big condition: StartTalking has until Aug. 31 to find investors who are interested in the deal. After that date, the state starts clawing back tax credits from the startup.
Even with the deadline, the tax credits are a great opportunity to attract investors. For people who take up the offer, Nolte said, “your risk just got cut in half.”
How Did SparkLabKC Help StartTalking?
StartTalking was part of the most recent class of the SparkLabKC business accelerator, and Nolte said that it was a huge help in building up the company.
Just to be clear, Nolte is not a novice when it comes to the world of business. He’s the president and CEO of MarkMedical, a successful surgical-products distributor. But there were some startup-specific skills that SparkLabKC helped him master, such as assembling a pro forma and refining his pitch.
Thanks to SparkLabKC, artists from Hallmark helped him assemble his slideshow presentation. And he worked with an actor who coached him on a delivery and which words to stress during the talk. That, and the weekly practice sessions, positioned Nolte to perform well during SparkLabKC’s demo day this spring.
“By the time we got to the 12th week,” Nolte said, “you’d pretty much honed your skills.”