Our guest this week is Jon Just. Jon is co-founder of Therapeasy which was born in the heights of a worldwide health crisis. From a solid healthcare background, Jon doesn’t really know he would end up being an entrepreneur. He dreamed of running his own hospital. He see himself as being a top-notch healthcare executive focusing on finance analytics and hospital operations.
Jon’s website: https://therapeasy.co/
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain marketing. My guest today is John just John is the co founder of Denver based therapy z, which is a health tech startup on a mission to match you to your perfect therapist. John has over 10 years experience working in healthcare finance, analytics and hospital operations, but always wanted to make the leap into entrepreneurship. They launched in May 2020. And therapies he is currently changing the way Coloradans seek mental health care. John, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Jon Just 0:53
Hey, thanks for having me. Very excited.
Katie Brinkley 0:56
Well, I always like to have our listeners get to know who the guests are a little bit. So tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us where you grew up and what life was like growing up?
Jon Just 1:06
Yeah, so I was born and raised in Texas, and a rather small town, near Dallas, Fort Worth area. So in North Texas, and my parents still live there that will always be home to me. Most of my family lives around there. But I decided to leave leave Texas for college and went to college in Tennessee, four years there. And then after that went to graduate school in Southern California spent another four years there before making my way to Denver. So I kind of been all over the place. But definitely Colorado is my favorite, my favorite place that I’ve lived so far, for sure.
Katie Brinkley 1:39
Now you have a wide background here from healthcare finance, analytics, I mean, hospital operations, what eventually brought you to entrepreneurship, you know, what stops do you think, really kind of led you to want to be your own boss?
Jon Just 1:54
Yeah, good question. I always thought that I would, my career path was in healthcare, and I would end up running a hospital one day, that was kind of always my goal, to be a healthcare executive. And I didn’t really know what the Lord entrepreneurship even was even going through college, no one really talked about it. And it wasn’t until I took my MBA in grad school that I took an entrepreneurship class like entrepreneurship 101, like the very basics, and that was what really sparked my interest. So as ever since I took that class way back when I had this itch, and it’s interesting, you know, I never considered myself an entrepreneur, but looking back at my childhood, some of the things I did while growing up, you know, I was always trying to start my own business or started this or that, and finding ways to make money for myself. And so looking back, I know, like, oh, yeah, I was entrepreneurial. But growing up that just didn’t really have a concept of what that was. So like I said, in grad school, I took that class, I had a great teacher, he was the dean of the School of Business at the time. And that really kind of got my wheels turning of, you know, thinking like, the path that’s path that I’m on healthcare executive, like, do I really want to be on that path? Or do I want pursue something different? Yeah. And eventually led led me to co founding therapies. Well,
Katie Brinkley 3:16
I was gonna say, if someone is listening to the show right now, and they’re like, Well, you know, I’ve always kind of thought about being my own boss, too. What advice would you give to an aspiring or new business owner, that is considering becoming an entrepreneur?
Jon Just 3:31
I would say, first of all, just be intentional about the way you the way you look at your life and the path that you’re on. And for me, that was for so long, I kind of describe it as like I was a leaf kind of floating along this river of a career path, right? I kind of just took whatever came next and whatever promotion or whatever was the next thing that kind of came my way. I just fell into it without really being intentional and giving it some thought of where, where’s this taking me? And do I actually want to end up there? So that would be the first thing I would say is just be intentional of your choices. And think, do I really, this is really what I want to do and think two or three steps ahead of like, okay, so maybe if I do this, then what is the next two steps? And is that really the direction that I want to go? Because it wasn’t until I started thinking intentionally about where I was going to end up one day that I made that choice to, to focus more on on my own thing, rather than the corporate ladder.
Katie Brinkley 4:31
So tell us a little bit about therapy Z, you guys got started at a very challenging time. Last Last year, I mean, 2020 That was a year for the ages and caused a lot of businesses to rethink their business strategy and caused most businesses to pivot the the current way that they were doing business and running their business. Tell us a little bit about how this business came to be and what exactly therapies he offers.
Jon Just 5:00
Yeah, yeah, well, you’re, you mentioned it before, we launched in May of 2020, which is like smack dab right in the middle of a pandemic. And sometimes I still wonder like was that was that good timing or is that bad timing, because it is a challenging time for everyone. But the idea for therapies, he really was born, maybe two or three years earlier, my co founder, Christine and I were, we were getting together and we were trying to put our heads around, what is something that we could do that is healthcare focused, because we both have a, you know, our backgrounds are in healthcare, what is something that we can do with our healthcare backgrounds, that we are both really passionate about, and the idea of mental health came up and, and how how people access mental health. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to find a therapist, or I’ve had to navigate the system before, but I certainly have. And it’s, it’s daunting, it’s very difficult, it’s confusing, so much, so that a lot of people give up giving give up the search before their they bring it to completion, just because it’s so complicated, right. And so that was actually me that was my story was that a few years ago, I was looking for a marriage therapist, marriage counseling, and just was so overwhelmed by the amount of choices, the amount of information, not really being an expert, in the industry of just, I gave up my search, and I didn’t receive the care at a time when I really needed that care. So that was my experience. And so that out of that was born was born therapy, which, what so what we do, we’re an online resource online platform that allows people to put in their information, what they’re looking for some of their criteria and their preferences, and we have an algorithm that will match them to their top compatible therapists near them, based on different factors, beyond demographics, such as communication style, cultural competency, and so really trying to get at the, what makes a good fit, and a good relationship between the client and the therapist, because we believe that fits that fit, that really helps bolster therapeutic outcomes, right. So the better the fit, the more likely you are, or the faster you are to really receive the outcomes that you’re seeking. So that’s, that’s kind of how we came to therapy Z. And so like I said, we’ve been thinking about this idea and doing a lot of research for a few years for actually pulling the trigger last year in 2020, and launching. So since launch, we’ve made over 1000 matches here in Colorado, we’re just serving the state of Colorado, Colorado right now. And we’ve facilitated over 1000 matches, which we’re really happy about. And we’re hoping to do more this year.
Katie Brinkley 7:49
What do you think that some of the biggest mistakes are that business owners make when they’re trying to grow and sustain a successful businesses? I mean, like we mentioned earlier, you guys decided to start your business in the middle of the pandemic, but it might have actually worked out to be perfect, because a lot of people were spending more time online and making those searches. But what do you think that some mistakes that they might be that some business owners might make that you would say, hey, learn from my mistakes? Don’t do what I did?
Jon Just 8:18
Yeah, I think that anytime you’re dealing with an online business, especially, a lot of your marketing efforts are going to be online, right, whether that’s through social media, or paid ads. And so we took the approach, you know, I’m not a marketer by background. So I don’t claim to be an expert by any means. And so because of that, and because we’re a bootstrap startup, we don’t have a huge marketing budget. So what we did is really focused on the kind of micro campaigns that we viewed as experiments, so to speak, to really experiment and see what worked within that digital advertising space. So right, we’ve run, I don’t know, 50, about 50 of these campaigns, since since launch, and really been able to learn it’s low risk, right? So if something doesn’t work, you haven’t spent your whole mark your whole budget, right. And so we’re able to act quickly and iterate on these kind of micro experiments. So that’s worked for us. So I would say, don’t, maybe don’t assume that you know exactly what’s going to work from day one. And don’t dump a bunch of money into something before you really feel comfortable with whether or not it’s going to give you the results that you want.
Katie Brinkley 9:34
Well, that was that was gonna be kind of my next My next question here is what type of business model or what does your model look like for finding engaging and selling to your ideal clients and customers these days? What type of marketing have you found to work for you and your business?
Jon Just 9:49
Yeah, so we’re somewhat unique, unique business and that we’re a marketplace, an online marketplace. You know, it’s two sided. We’re on one side we have therapists and counselors on the platform. And on the other side, we have people coming on seeking care, right. And we play that matchmaker. And so from the very beginning, any sort of two sided marketplaces is kind of like the chicken and egg problem at first of how do you attract one side? Without the other, right? And so for us, it’s rather, it’s been rather unique on the provider side. So for the therapists and counselors, those, they’re easy to find, right? We know who they are, their license information is published publicly on the state website. So we can find those individuals, you know, that usually have a good online presence already. But the other side of someone seeking mental health care, that could be any of us, right? That could be anyone, really, especially after the last year, when we’ve seen anxiety rates increase and depression rates increase? And so how do you target? How do you target someone who could be any of us, and really, you know, a lot of us. So that’s kind of been our challenge. And one thing, one thing that we found, interestingly enough, is anytime that we try to segment, you know, the typical advice for for online marketing is segment down to really to your target customers as much as possible. So you can be effective with your messaging. But anytime that we have tried to filter down and be more specific with our ads, or whatnot, we actually see, we don’t see as good results as when we when we do the broad approach. And so it’s been interesting to us of trying to figure out, okay, if we’re going to target who and how are we going to target? Or are we going to do the shotgun approach, which seemed to yield better results? So I it may just be the unique nature of our products. I’ve been in the mental health space. But yeah, that’s what we’ve that’s what we’ve seen. So far, social media works quite has worked quite well, for us. Definitely Instagram, probably better than Facebook. But when you think of someone who is searching for a therapist, usually the first place they’re going to go is a search engine, such as Google, most likely. And so it’s been easier to to find people that way, rather than just hey, I’m scrolling through Instagram, and maybe I see an ad, you know, I’m not necessarily looking for a therapist at the time versus when I’m using keywords and searching for a therapist.
Katie Brinkley 12:13
I’m glad that you brought up the different types of Google versus Instagram versus Facebook. And I’d love to just dive into that a little bit more with the different strategies you’ve used on each of them. Because like you said, on Google, they’re actually searching for most likely they’re actually searching for your product. Whereas on Instagram, they could be scrolling through and all of a sudden, it just pops up into their feet. Are you finding with your social media strategy, at least to that using video or graphics? Or what kind of imagery? Are you finding that you are having the most success with on your social media ads?
Jon Just 12:47
Yeah, good question. And so one of the one of the first things that we tried on Instagram was more of more of a, like a plain a solid color background with text. Because we thought that that would stand out more in a feed that has a lot of photos, you know, a lot of images. And so if someone’s scrolling, might catch their attention more just because the mere fact that it actually stands out in the feed. And so we actually had quite early success on Instagram using that kind of solid color with text call to action type of ad versus a photo or some sort of
Katie Brinkley 13:28
animation. Yeah. And I think that to go knowing what platform you’re doing the ads for. Now, if you wanted to have an ad like that on Google, it probably wouldn’t, you know, you could you can have a tree on Facebook, it probably wouldn’t stand out the same way, as it did, like you said on Instagram. And so knowing the different types of platforms and creating the ads that are specific for that platform. Unfortunately, guys, you can’t just copy and paste things between between all the different search engines and social media platforms for your ads. When you do tailor your ads specifically for the platforms, I think that you’re gonna see exactly like what John just said is you will have more success. Now with Google is a behemoth and trying to find those right keywords and SEO, and making sure that people stand out from that your stuff does stand out from the very crowded spot. They’re on Google. So how have you found success to for for your Google strategy versus your social?
Jon Just 14:26
Good question. I think when you’re right, it’s very crowded, Google’s very crowded. And so there are a lot of private practices that also take out their own Google ads. So if you’re in Denver, for example, and you’re you search therapists in Denver, you’re going to get a whole host of different services, right? If you’re going to get sites like like better health, that maybe offer like online services, online telehealth services, you’re going to get the private practices themselves, who are marketing, marketing them or their groups. So one of the one thing that we are really trying to make ourselves stand out on is saving people time. Basically skip skipping the search and let us match you immediately is kind of a messaging that has worked well for us or work best for us so far. But you’re right Google is, is very crowded, and it can get very expensive as well. But that’s definitely find what’s unique about your business and highlight that, because if we were just marketing ourselves as another, another place to find therapy, we wouldn’t necessarily stand out. But when someone sees, oh, I don’t have to browse through 100 profiles, I can get just just match me, you know, that that helps us stick out?
Katie Brinkley 15:46
Yeah, I think that that’s, I love to say, yeah, you have to browse through profiles, I instantly thought of a dating site. So it’s, I think it’s a great strategy have basically, you know, it’s kind of like an eHarmony. But for, but for therapists and, and people searching for therapists. So it’s a great concept, for sure. Now, one passion that so many business owners and entrepreneurs have is to build a business around their lifestyle, and not the other way around. How has that played out in your story and your approach to running your business these days?
Jon Just 16:16
Yeah, that’s a, that’s an interesting thing. Because you’re you’re right, that is an advantage of running your own thing that you can kind of dictate your lifestyle and what that means. And, you know, I so I, I left my full time job, while just actually a year ago to the day really, and so that, you know, you you think, Well, I’m gonna have, I’m gonna have more time to do what I want to do and more flexibility. But often times you end up working more, I’ve found as an entrepreneur, especially when you’re when you’re trying to grow something from nothing. And so I think, I mean, I don’t think I know that I definitely work more now than I did in my corporate job. But it’s, it’s less a work because I like you said, you’re working on your passion. So it doesn’t always feel like work. And so really, it comes down to to you as an individual. And what does work mean to you? And what is flexibility mean to you? So I don’t know, I find that that I end up spending probably more hours working now than I did even before.
Katie Brinkley 17:24
I am right there with you. I feel like I’m definitely working more, but it’s stuff that I’m passionate about, you know, I could talk about social media and, and strategies and ads and all things digital marketing for hours. But you know, so there’s, there’s a lot of things to where, oh, man, I got to do the the accounting and I got to do the bookkeeping, and I got to build the landing pages, and I you know, all those different aspects of the job that’s kind of like, oh, yeah, this stuff does come with being an entrepreneur, especially while you’re growing, you know, and growing out a team, because no one wants to see your business succeed more than you do. So yeah, I’m right there with you with putting in the extra hours. But it’s all worth it, because it’s something that we are passionate about. So what is one of the best pieces of advice that you’ve ever received? And how has that impacted your business or your life?
Jon Just 18:13
That’s a good question. No, I don’t know. I don’t know, maybe quite how to answer that. Let’s move on.
Katie Brinkley 18:21
Yeah. Well, now before we finish up, is there anything else that I didn’t ask you about during today’s discussion that you think is important to share with an entrepreneur or someone that’s just starting out? Or just a bit of advice that you wish someone would have given you when you started your journey? Yeah,
Jon Just 18:39
definitely. I think mental health is important to everyone. But it’s I think it’s especially important to entrepreneurs. Because as an entrepreneur, you can really get your identity wrapped up in your project or in your company or your business. And that have, you know, that I’m guilty of that as well, right. So when the business is doing good, you feel good as a person, and maybe when it’s not doing so good, you can feel that as reflects on you as well. And so finding a way to deal with the roller coasters of business because there will always be ups and downs, but finding a way to separate your identity from your business is very important. So one one of the ways some of the ways I do that is making sure to to check in regularly with my co founders because I have also started business as a like a solopreneur before and it can be very lonely. So being an entrepreneur is isolating in many ways, but one of the ways that you can feel isolated is feeling like no one really understands what you’re going through. Whether it be family or friends who you know, just haven’t run their own business before may not quite understand. So if you do have partners or friends or colleagues that you work with, make sure you check in with them regularly. Because you know, they they can help you work with Do things in ways that others can’t. And take breaks. I mentioned working a lot, which, which I do, but I also, you know, I have a regularly scheduled Sabbath each week where I don’t work for a day. And that that does wonders for keeping me grounded.
Katie Brinkley 20:19
You know, and I’m so glad that you brought up the sometimes lonely journey of entrepreneurship, and how important it is to find those kind of, kind of, I don’t wanna stay accountability partners, but someone that you can check in with or know that will check in with you to just share their tips or their struggles. And you guys can be a sounding board because like you said, it’s it’s a lot of work to be an entrepreneur and go after something that you’re passionate about, and build it from the ground up. And it can be sometimes a lonely or scary journey. So I think that I am right there with you with trying to find somebody to align with you and connect with you and, or else going down a therapy Z sort of route and seeking out for help just to have someone else to listen to you and help you with with this journey. Because it can be it can be scary and lonely. But it really doesn’t need to be if you have the right people that you surround yourself with.
Jon Just 21:19
For sure. Totally agree.
Katie Brinkley 21:21
Well, John, this has been such a great conversation. Where can we find out more about you and your business online?
Jon Just 21:28
Yeah, so our web addresses just therapy z.co. So that CO not CLM. And you can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Jonathan, just my email is John at their PC. Co. Yeah, I’ll be glad to talk to anyone about what we’ve learned with marketing our online marketing efforts or just being that sounding board of someone who understands what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.
Katie Brinkley 21:54
This has been so great. Thank you again for coming on the show today.
Jon Just 21:57
Yeah, thank you had a lot of fun.
Katie Brinkley 22:01
Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.