May 18, 2023

[GREATEST HITS] #30: Lindsay Watson PT, MPT (Augment Therapy)

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Our conversation this week is with Lindsay Watson, CEO & Founder of Augment Therapy.

Augment Therapy was founded in 2017 when Lindsay — who is a pediatric physical therapist from Chagrin Falls, Ohio — was searching for a way to solve the problems she was experiencing in her own physical therapy practice. Lindsay had spent years working with children and was frustrated with the inefficiency of treating kids once a week, with no way to help them exercise on a daily basis for faster progress. And with that, Lindsay set out to find a way to encourage and motivate them to exercise and Augment Therapy was born.

Augment Therapy is an interactive software that uses the medium of augmented reality to engage kids to exercise. Using depth-sensing camera technology, Augment Therapy functions as a motivational tool, exercise prompt, and progress tracker for children needing therapeutic exercise – with no headsets or other wearables required. It can be used in the hospital and clinical setting or in the home environment – any place where added motivation is needed.

Augment Therapy looks like a game to the child, but solves real problems of exercise adherence – its portability and anywhere/anytime access make the completion of daily therapeutic exercise simple, convenient, and fun!

Originally published as episode 30 back in July of 2021, this conversation with Lindsay Watson was one of my favorite conversations to date! Lindsay’s passion for her work is infectious and I learned a lot from her story — when I re-listened to it in advance of republishing it today, I was struck by how inspiring and forward-thinking Lindsay’s work through Augment Therapy was, and still is today as she’s continued to grow the business and raised an additional million dollars of funding — all with the goal of improving the therapy experience for children and bringing increased innovation to the pediatric market at large. Please enjoy!


This episode is brought to you byImpact ArchitectsandNinety. As we share the stories of entrepreneurs building incredible organizations throughout NEO, Impact Architects helps those leaders — many of whom we’ve heard from as guests on Lay of The Land — realize their visions and build great organizations. I believe in Impact Architects and the people behind it so much, that I have actually joined them personally in their mission to help leaders gain focus, align together, and thrive by doing what they love! As a listener, you can sit down for a free consultation with Impact Architects or leverage a free trial through Ninety, the software platform that helps teams build great companies, by!


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Jeffrey Stern [00:00:00]:

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Lay of the Land podcast. Today we are going to do something a little different than we normally do on the show. Over the years, we have published hundreds of episodes of this podcast, and I often think back on many of these conversations for inspiration, for energy, for wisdom, and for their timeless ideas on entrepreneurship. And so from time to time, we're going to revisit some of these conversations. For our longtime listeners, these are a chance to rediscover stories that are just as relevant, as interesting and as entertaining as they were when they first aired. And for Lay of the Land's many and growing number of newer listeners, these are a chance to enjoy these stories for the first time. The episode we have for you today is one of my personal favorites. Originally published as Episode 30 back in July of 2021, this conversation with Lindsay Watson, the founder Land CEO of Augment Therapy, is awesome. When I re listened to it in advance of republishing it today, I was struck by how inspiring and forward thinking Lindsay's work through Augment Therapy was. Land still is today as she's continued to grow the business and raise an additional million dollars of funding, all with the goal of improving the therapy experience for children and bringing increased innovation to the pediatric market at large. So, without any further ado, here is our conversation with Lindsay Watson of Augment Therapy. I hope you enjoy this blast from the podcasting past. Let's dive in after a brief message from our sponsor. Lay of the Land is brought to.

Jeffrey Stern [00:01:36]:

You by Impact Architects.

Jeffrey Stern [00:01:37]:

and by 90. As we share the stories of entrepreneurs building incredible organizations in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio, impact Architects has helped hundreds of those leaders, many of whom we have heard from as guests on this very podcast, realize their own visions and build these great organizations.

Jeffrey Stern [00:01:55]:

I believe in Impact Architects and the people behind it so much that I have actually joined them personally in their mission to help leaders gain focus, align together, land thrive by doing what they love. If you two are trying to build great, Impact Architects is offering to sit down with you for a free consultation or provide a free trial through 90, the software platform that helps teams build great companies. If you are interested in learning more About partnering with Impact Architects or by Leveraging 90 to power your own business, please go to IA layoftheland FM. The link will also be in our show notes.

Lindsay Watson [00:02:35]:

What the best therapists are, are the ones that pay attention to what draws the attention of their patient and they leverage that for the good of the patient. So I'm always trying to gauge if a child, let's say, is really into Clifford the Big Red Dog, then, okay, let me tell you, Land, if I'm working on that child, getting him to walk, and he doesn't want to walk. Clifford is sitting on the other end of the therapy room and I am using Clifford to get that kid to walk to Clifford. And games are like that for the generation of kids today. They are a powerful medium, and it's shocking when you watch these kids. They will sustain and they will go from exercise to exercise to exercise much easier than in the clinical setting.

Jeffrey Stern [00:03:28]:

Let's discover the Cleveland entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Jeffrey Stern [00:03:31]:

We are telling the stories of its entrepreneurs and those supporting them.

Jeffrey Stern [00:03:37]:

Welcome to the Lay of the Land podcast, where we are exploring what people are building in Cleveland. I'm your host, Jeffrey Stern, and today we are talking with Lindsay Watson about.

Jeffrey Stern [00:03:50]:

The future of physical therapy.

Jeffrey Stern [00:03:52]:

Augment Therapy was founded back in 2017 when Lindsay, who is a pediatric physical therapist from Chagrin Falls here in Ohio, was searching for a way to solve the problem she was experiencing in her own physical therapy practice. Lindsay had spent years working with children and was frustrated with the inefficiency of treating kids just once a week with no real way to help them exercise on a daily basis for faster progress. And so with that, Lindsay set out to find a way to encourage and motivate children to exercise, and thus Augment Therapy was born. Land augment Therapy is an interactive software that uses the medium of augmented reality to engage kids to exercise using depth sensing camera technology. Augment Therapy functions as a motivational tool, exercise prompt, and progress tracker for children needing therapeutic exercise with no headsets or other wearables required to use it. It can be used in the hospital or other clinical settings or in the home environment, and really any place where added motivation is needed. Augment Therapy looks like a game to the child, but solves real problems of exercise adherence. Its portability in anywhere, anytime. Access makes the completion of daily therapeutic exercise simple, convenient, and fun. I really enjoyed this conversation with Lindsay. Her passion for her work is infectious, and I learned quite a lot from her story as well. I hope you all enjoy this conversation, too. All right, so I would love to start with your entrepreneurial journey and really kind of diving into the formative moments that transpired throughout your clinical years that motivated this transition to entrepreneurship with Augment Therapy.

Lindsay Watson [00:05:38]:

Well, I've been a physical therapist for about 20 years, and 17 of those years I've specialized in pediatrics. And it was my struggles and frustrations in my practice that really pushed me to found a company to solve those problems. The problems really were all around years of struggle, engaging kids to do the exercises they need to do to get better. Basically. Now what therapists do is we build elaborate obstacle courses. Land we give out stickers and bubbles, and we're constantly trying to make the delivery of therapy more pleasant for children to get them to execute on those exercises. Yet we still fundamentally require families bring their child to the clinic multiple times a week for years on end, which is really difficult for families to sustain because the majority of the kids that we treat have chronic conditions. So I was tired of working through kind of just the typical traditional mechanism of care and I wanted to do something different. I didn't really like how pediatrics is often overlooked and I decided I was going to focus my energies on solving problems the first and then move into the adult market later on.

Jeffrey Stern [00:07:10]:

Got it. And of all the problems you encountered, was it just this is the one that spoke to you the most of those that you kind of experienced over the clinical years practicing?

Lindsay Watson [00:07:23]:

Yeah, the problems that stuck out to me the most were problems with patient engagement, patient experience of care, but also the delivery of care. So it was really that combination of problems. I felt like the tools we were using to engage kids were the tools that were designed to engage older generations, my generation in particular. But they aren't the same tools that work for today's kids. Today's kids are motivated by technology primarily and we can hate on that all we want. But it's an incredibly powerful tool for today's children and I wanted to leverage that for some therapeutic good for the children.

Jeffrey Stern [00:08:09]:

So how do you take this problem that you recognize in practice and start to begin to work towards some mechanism to solve it?

Lindsay Watson [00:08:22]:

Well, I really began with just daydreaming. While I was working at my other job, I was constantly watching my own children game and the children that I would treat would often come to me and asks for specific games. So I would always bend those tools and make them work therapeutically in my sessions. But they were never designed for therapy in particular. So I would just daydream on how I would modify this tool or how I would modify that tool to make it better for therapy land. I was always plucking from existing technologies in my daydreams, each day. And I finally just got fed up enough that really all the reasons why I had told myself I could only daydream these problems away, that I wasn't qualified to actually solve them myself suddenly became the reasons why I should be the person to solve them, which are that I'm just a clinician. That was what I always told myself. I am just a therapist, I have no business starting a business to solve these problems. And I soon realized that those were the reasons why I should be out there. And yeah, was going to be painful process of learning a multitude of new things but that I was closer to the problems and felt the myself so I was likely more qualified to solve them in the end.

Jeffrey Stern [00:09:55]:

Yeah, often from just the conversations I picked up talking with entrepreneurs, most people I feel like if they have some impetus to start a company, they spend most of the time in that ideation stage trying to come up with an idea. But time and time again, what I just see as the pattern is that solving your own problem is just the best place to start for inspiration, and that is really all you need to kind of get the ball rolling.

Lindsay Watson [00:10:22]:

Yeah. I equate the whole process of building a company as much like beating your head against a brick wall repeatedly, where the answer is usually no. And that brick wall just does not seem to budge. And it does take, I think, a bit of passion on a crazy level to anyone that would want to keep doing this over and over again. Has to be a little loopy, but has to have this passion to solve a problem that they know that they can eventually break down. That brick wall, that was me, I guess I could say little loopy, very passionate.

Jeffrey Stern [00:11:06]:

Was there an acute catalyst to this, or was it just this kind of accumulated frustration with the problems you were experiencing?

Lindsay Watson [00:11:14]:

I would definitely say it was an accumulative process over the years. Land that was really what and also, I turned 40, and so I was like, that's it. This is my time now. I've dedicated so much of my life to therapy for the children, raising my own children. I was like, this is me time now. I'm going for it. So that was one thing, but there was a moment about a year after I founded the company that really, I think, changed my feeling about it from a passion to my purpose of my life. I'd never experienced what therapy was like as a parent, but my own daughter, who was four at the time, came down with a sudden unexplained septic bacterial infection. She basically, all of a sudden was in excruciating pain and couldn't walk and had no reason for why this happened. And so we took her to Rainbow, to the emergency room. Land soon after we were admitted, she had emergency hip surgery, which it was a life threatening situation. The came out of that fine and spent six days in the hospital afterwards on high doses of antibiotics to treat this infection. Well, for the first time, I now was in this position of supporting my own child through the therapy journey. And the therapists there were incredible. She, however, was not feeling the whole therapy process. Land she was what we would define in our world, a non compliant patient. As soon as the therapist would duck the head in the room, she would start screaming, bad people go away. Bad people. She was in so much pain and so afraid, and they were doing everything they possibly could to encourage her because they knew ultimately that she needed to stand up, she needed to do this. It was good for her. Land she was fighting it desperately. At the time, the software only was in very early prototype stage. And I had been thinking about the software really just as an outpatient school based type tool. The setting that I worked in. I soon recognized after watching what she went through, that these problems persisted as well in the inpatient hospital setting. And when we got home from the hospital, she actually became and sounds like a fake story, but it actually is real. She became our first test patient. It was rudimentary at best, but it still worked profoundly. I mean, she instantly did all of the exercises that she had been refusing and she did it happily too. And that moment really changed things for me, where I would have joked in the past, like, oh, not even a global pandemic would stop me from building this solution. And now we've been through it, but literally I feel now where I will stop at nothing to make this work and to put it in front of as many children and eventually adults as I possibly can.

Jeffrey Stern [00:14:42]:

Wow, that's an amazing story.

Lindsay Watson [00:14:44]:

Thank you.

Jeffrey Stern [00:14:45]:

I think it would be helpful just to contextualize a bit what exactly Augment Therapy is.

Lindsay Watson [00:14:50]:

Yeah, Augment Therapy is in short, when I describe it very quickly, I say that we deliver Gamified Therapy services and that we gamify the experience of therapy. And then we combined in it elements of telehealth and remote patient monitoring capability. How we do that as an all in one system is through an application on an iPhone or an iPad. And we use augmented reality to engage patients to exercise. We do that in a unique way. We basically do patient facing augmented reality. The typical mechanism of augmented reality really means layered digital content over real world images. Typically, augmented reality is world view. So you are looking through translucent glasses that allow then us to add a layer of digital content over that and you're looking out at the world. Well, what we've done is we've taken that camera on the device and we turn it around on the patient and then we layer digital content over the patient's environment and we use that layering to engage patients to exercise. And simultaneously we then capture data points on the child's movement land. We can take that land, send it back to any therapist at any time. You can use it in real time, as in a telehealth or just remote monitor and see what people are doing. So now we get a window into what's actually happening. Even when someone is not physically present with a therapist, that's what we do.

Jeffrey Stern [00:16:40]:

Yeah, that's powerful. I kind of want to unpack a few things there because I feel like with especially virtual, but also with augmented reality experiences, it's always hard to kind of fully grasp what that experience is without going through it yourself. But I think that paints a pretty good picture of what that experience is like. But just to kind of round it out so the patient is kind of interacting with themselves, like when what they see on the screen is some mirrored version of themselves with an overlay of prompts for exercises.

Lindsay Watson [00:17:12]:

Yes, that's right. We always feature the patient's own image on the screen. Sometimes we convert the patient to a digital avatar or a digital skeleton that we've augmented in a certain lay, but we always depict at some scale within the software the patient's real image. And the reason why we do that is in therapy, one of the most fundamental tools that therapists use is actually a mirror, and we do that for therapeutic reason. The brain actually, often in children in particular, needs that visual feedback to know where the body is in space. And we help reinforce that pathway, that connection between the brain and the body, and we're just digitizing it basically through the software. And then we up the ante with that digital content. We basically gamify and make that experience engaging for the patient. But it's just fundamental exercise at heart.

Jeffrey Stern [00:18:14]:

Yeah, it's really cool to hear. It sounds like this confluence of all these kind of buzzwords that we hear in the industry telehealth, augmented reality, but really coming together in an impactful way. Do you think Augment Therapy is something that could have existed ten years ago, or it really requires these kind of leaps and bounds in the technological innovation that we've had over the last decade?

Lindsay Watson [00:18:40]:

Yeah, even though it often sounds as though the company is super innovative, gamified Therapy has been attempted multiple times and it's been around, and we're not the first people to do it. So there's definitely an element of been there, done that. What we're doing is unique in the sense that we're combining multiple elements into one platform that hasn't been done. But another aspect that's different about us is that we are accessible just through that smart device. That is an aspect that is right place, right time, where the technology has evolved to that level. Normally in the past, you needed high level laptop equipment plus high level cameras. Even when the company began, we started down that pathway as well. So we have evolved as a technology, basically on the frontier of the technology in the past. Also, there's companies that have done it where they require big pieces of hardware in a clinical setting that's very expensive, where they're Gamifying therapy. But you have to have that on site, and that's not really solving the problem of what does the patient do when they go home. We really need those touch points beyond just the clinical setting because that's where the real pain and the real problems are.

Jeffrey Stern [00:20:06]:

Right? No, that makes a whole lot of sense when you just lay it out like that. I want to take one step back and then we can kind of dive back into the more macro level items here. But when you were starting this company, you've built the callus on your forehead from smacking your head against the wall. Land broken through the brick wall. And you're going to take this idea that you've had from something that's daydreaming to a company. What is the process that you went through to make that happen? I imagine that the way you've described it, there's a funding process. It sounds like some kind of capital was involved to build out an MVP for this. What was the kind of the original business model who you were trying to sell to?

Lindsay Watson [00:20:53]:

Well, I'd say the whole process really began with several months that I dedicated to just research. My dad was a tech entrepreneur, and so he taught me you never go down any road entrepreneurial wise, unless you fully research the market. And so even though I was a, quote, expert in my expertise, I still had much to learn. So I researched everything. I researched the ecosystem of building a business here as well. And I looked for, okay, where are the places that are going to help me? Because obviously I've got a very steep learning curve ahead of me. So I began seeking out the people that were going to help me because I knew that I was going to need a lot of help, basically. So I started seeking the out. I bootstrapped what I could. I went to pitch competitions. I had no idea what even a pitch deck was. My twelve year old son helped me with my first one because I had never done PowerPoint. So it was a lot to learn and things started to pick up because I knew the industry. And so idea wise, I was getting some traction. I ultimately got into a program in Cleveland that was Plug and Play Cleveland, which was a phenomenal first step for us and gave us some visibility out there. And at the time, I remember standing on the stage land they had announced many of the other companies in our cohort that they had collectively raised tens of millions of dollars. And I think at that point land I was standing on the stage. I was really embarrassed about it, but I think I had raised about $60,000 at that point. Land I was standing on the stage and I thought, oh my gosh, I don't want anyone to find out about that. Now I'm actually really proud of that, that I was able to pull that together. Land do it with that little capital. So even though on the outside looking in, yes, it's an expensive endeavor to build software in this day and age and get traction in the market, but it is possible. Land I could do it. Anyone else can too, then?

Jeffrey Stern [00:23:19]:

Yeah. That's incredible. So coming out of Plug and Play, how does the business model actually work? Are the patients themselves paying for this? Is this something as a service that's offered by the clinician?

Lindsay Watson [00:23:35]:

So right now we sell to providers directly to them. So we're enabling particularly hospitals land enterprise systems. We're enabling them to reach their patients anywhere, at any time and improve their patient engagement and experience for basically their customers that they have. So we sell to them. Now, the intention is over time that perhaps that will evolve into where we sell something to the patients directly, whether it be a wellness version of the solution that could evolve over time. But right now, the primary focus for us is to sell to those enterprise customers and help those hospitals basically better care for their patients in any setting at any time.

Jeffrey Stern [00:24:22]:

What has the reception been to rolling out of the product across the systems that you're working with? From an outcomes perspective, what are the kinds of results that you would expect.

Jeffrey Stern [00:24:34]:

To see at this point?

Lindsay Watson [00:24:35]:

Well, we've had a lot of positive feedback that we've gotten. We've had a feasibility pilot that we've run at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. They presented at a critical rehab conference at Johns Hopkins, a poster presentation about using our solution. And in general, the results showed what you would probably expect would happen with Gamified software that kids have never had access to for therapy, where kids were more engaged for longer periods of time. They will sustain exercise and stay on task longer than outside of traditional mechanisms. It resulted in higher levels of satisfaction for the patient land, higher levels of satisfaction for the provider, because they were spending less time standing on their heads trying to engage the child as well. And we're now beginning deeper research in that location, other locations as well, looking at a multitude of factors that basically impact a patient's length of stay and their pain scales and a number of things like that. Adherence to exercise in the home setting. So those are the kinds of metrics we're looking at going forward. But overall, the response has been positive definitely to date.

Jeffrey Stern [00:26:04]:

What are the insights that you can glean from the data that you're collecting that you would likely forego just in an inpatient setting?

Lindsay Watson [00:26:14]:

Well, a lot of the data really kind of just reinforces what's already out there in the market right now, which really hospitals are starting to pay more attention to this data around earlier and increased mobility during inpatient stays in the hospital setting. And hospitals are really interested in how to facilitate that without necessarily hiring an arsenal of therapy staff to implement these strategies. So now the research is showing that when you get patients moving earlier and more frequently, that that has an impact on many levels, number one being their length of stay, but their outcomes, their functional status when they leave the hospital doing exercise after they leave, that's prescribed to them has an impact on their readmissions. All of these kinds of really big numbers. Hospitals are now recognizing that a lot of times that kind of culture of immobility, which was really designed initially to keep people safe, it was done for the right reasons so that people don't fall during the hospital stays. But what has resulted from that is some potentially negative things that now we're going to help them combat.

Jeffrey Stern [00:27:34]:

That basically I'm thinking about the story you told about your daughter, and I'm curious, from a resistance or like a pushback standpoint, what is the kind of challenge that you're getting from people both in the market but also in practice? Is what Augment therapy is doing to help at a broader scale? Have the children going through this therapy be more receptive to it?

Lindsay Watson [00:28:03]:

Yeah, the pushback we see is for the most part, the kids are on board right away. We do struggle at times with the teenagers that have the eye roll for life in general. So we're working to engage them with more sophisticated content that appeals to that market. But that's a tough nut to crack. Anybody that can sell to a 16 year old can probably sell to anyone in the marketplace, but in general, providers as well, the therapists, that's tough. What we're selling to them is also a tough pill to swallow at times because they're really embracing something very new. My profession in general is very reliant on our hands, so we often feel that that's our number one value driver. And we don't use technology right now almost at all. Land so we're really taking them from zero to 60, which is a big jump to make the pandemic absolutely accelerated that because that would have been our number one friction point prior to the Pandemic and is a number one indicator as to why the rehab industry in general very quickly had to completely shut down. Many of the clinics closed because there was nothing in place for them to render care remotely. So a lot of clinics adopted Google meets and the non HIPAA compliant platforms because they had to just to stay open. Now what people are recognizing is that by integrating some level of digital health, it doesn't negate the power of your hands and there's no need to shut that down completely. But having virtual care options is smart not only for patient care, but for your business overall.

Jeffrey Stern [00:30:06]:

Yeah, I want to pull on that thread a little bit. So in the post pandemic world, do you see that there is a staying power to kind of the digitally enabled platforms and some of that skepticism or resistance of just, this is how we've done it in the past as kind of a justification for how we'll continue to do it in the future? There's a little bit less of that now.

Lindsay Watson [00:30:28]:

There's a whole lot less of that, and we're actually seeing that and feeling that definitely the pendulum no doubt will continue to swing. But what everyone's recognizing now is that if you don't have these solutions in place, your business is at risk. And so you must have some kind of solution in place. I think what people are recognizing now is just any solution isn't enough land, so just any kind of video conferencing tool isn't enough to engage people long term. And you need something that's going to sustain engagement if you're going to leverage these kinds of tools for therapy over time. Reimbursement does impact how these types of tools are going to be adopted long term, so that will impact how the pendulum swings. But I think there's no doubt that this is here to stay to some degree. And I actually believe that tools that promote hybridized care delivery so that don't necessarily displace entire in person care, those are going to be the ones with lasting power and that's what we believe is the right way to go.

Jeffrey Stern [00:31:47]:

And when you think about lasting power and kind of the future for augment therapy, where do you see yourself growing as a company, kind of a more immediate future and really at scale? What is the kind of impact that you hope to have in the industry?

Lindsay Watson [00:32:07]:

We've set a goal for ourself initially in the advent of the company is to help as many children as possible. That was our number one goal initially and we want to obviously scale into more hospitals than where we are now. So that's a goal we want to scale into even just any child that needs help facilitating developmental milestones. Our goal is also to expand into the adult market over time. We'd like to do that as well. The geriatric population has a vast need right now as well, and we could help them combat the immobility and isolation that many geriatric patients are experiencing even more these days. And so we have definite motivations to solve those problems as well over time. We just want to do good on a massive scale. That's our hope.

Jeffrey Stern [00:33:07]:

I want to kind of build on that a little bit because just thinking about the pediatric space where kind of the benefactor of what you're doing is children, I feel like just from the outside it would be harder to have children advocate on behalf of your company as kind of like a salesforce. Whereas were you to sell to the geriatric space and older folks, I could much more easily see them coming to their physical therapist and say, hey, I want an alternative mechanism. So I'm curious just how you've kind of approached working with children in that way where you have this product that is better, but maybe they are not necessarily their own advocate in their care.

Lindsay Watson [00:33:51]:

And that's actually, I think one of the big reasons why a lot of times pediatrics is overlooked in innovation is people look solely at market numbers and the size of the market and the hurdles that are obviously there in pediatrics that may not be there in the geriatric market. My contention always from the beginning was that the pain felt in the pediatric market, though overlooked, often overlooked, was more profound than. The adult market, even though the slice of the pie was smaller initially. Land what we have found is because we are attacking a problem that is just there's just starvation in that market for some innovation that their voices. They will raise them louder and faster in support of us. And we have an arsenal of parents behind us. And when you're advocating for their child and you're helping their child, they will scream from the top of their lungs to support you. And we have a line around the block of parents that are willing and waiting to do those types of things. So I think we're basically seeing that kind of positive swell from the parents. And that's been a great thing for us. We'll get those geriatric patients eventually, hopefully cheering us on. But the pain these parents are feeling and in just their care consumption over the years, we had to go for that problem first. We just had to yeah.

Jeffrey Stern [00:35:27]:

And on the Gamification side of it, you mentioned earlier we seem to, as a society, kind of just discount technology, really kind of in the form of video games. Land gaming in general. Just from my own experience, I can see how much I've learned from those worlds. But what have you observed in Gamifying, the physical therapy experience? What are some of the takeaways that you've seen?

Lindsay Watson [00:35:50]:

Well, I've always felt that the best therapists, on the surface, skill is very important. So the best therapists have the most knowledge and have multiple certifications and all those things. But really, ultimately, what the best therapists are, are the ones that pay attention to what draws the attention of their patient, and they leverage that for the good of the patient. So I'm always trying to gauge if a child, let's say, is really into Clifford the big red Dog, then, okay, let me tell you. And if I'm working on that child, getting him to walk, and he doesn't want to walk, clifford is sitting on the other end of the therapy room, and I am using Clifford to get that kid to walk to Clifford. And games are like that for the generation of kids today. They are a powerful medium. And it's shocking when you watch these kids, they will sustain and they will go from exercise to exercise to exercise much easier than in the clinical setting where between each exercise you have to give them a five minute break and let them roll around and walk out and get a drink. And all these things, all these tactics, basically to kind of stall the therapy session. But when you're working in a technological medium, these kids will engage for a longer period of time. And there's a multitude of research around what the power of games and play really are in the brain as well. The research I read recently, it said something like, you need to engage 400 repetitions to really get a synapse in your brain to take place 400 times. You must repeat it. And when you're engaged in a game or play, ten to 20 repetitions is all that is needed to create that synapse. So the brain is just hardwired for this type of thing, and we're leveraging this medium that is occasionally maligned for being bad, but we're leveraging it for some good for these kids, and I think it's powerful and we should capitalize on it.

Jeffrey Stern [00:38:15]:

Yeah, I fully agree with that. I've just seen how, through technology, virtual reality, augmented reality, people can do physical activities that they would not have even thought were physical activities just as a consequence of it being through a medium of a game.

Lindsay Watson [00:38:36]:

Oh, yeah. Occasionally, I get text messages from a therapist that is using our software right now, and she will send me messages, little anecdotes of patient stories of what's going on just to keep me motivated because she knows I'm repeatedly beating my head against the brick wall.

Jeffrey Stern [00:38:56]:

Yeah, there are other brick walls after that first.

Lindsay Watson [00:38:58]:

Right. She knows the trudge, and so she'll tell me stories, and she just sent me a text the other night that there was a patient who it was really like a patient that was having difficulty even standing up next to the hospital bed. And she brought the software out, and the child did about 35 minutes of exercise in the software when the was struggling just to stand for five minutes. And it's because she was completely distracted and excited by what she was doing, and she was able to achieve something so much far and beyond what she thought was possible when we removed her kind of barriers of thought and put it in something else, and it worked for her. So those are the stories I love and I cling to every day.

Jeffrey Stern [00:39:50]:

Yeah, they're powerful stories. A little outside the context, specifically of physical therapy, but I often find myself defending video games as kind of a societal thing that we have. And there was a study recently out of Carnegie Mellon that I often is kind of the go to where the average young person today in America will spend 10,000 hours playing games by the age of 21, which is like the equivalent of time spent on education. And it's also thinking about, like, Malcolm Gladwell and 10,000 hours. And to your point about how long it takes to form the synapses, it's a mechanism for some kind of alteration in behavior, and I think it is really powerful.

Lindsay Watson [00:40:33]:

Yeah, definitely. We can scoff at it all we want, but we've got to use it. And the kids are telling us that we should use it, too. I was always trying to modify Pokemon Go and YouTube videos that really just aren't designed for therapy land. The kids were saying, Use this with me. I want it. So I just listened. That's all. I just listened.

Jeffrey Stern [00:41:04]:

Yeah, that's awesome. When you think about some of those future plans for expansion. What are some of the challenges that you foresee in scaling the company?

Lindsay Watson [00:41:16]:

So I would say barriers really are on technology accessibility. There's barriers right now in just WiFi out there and bandwidth and who has smartphones and do they have the right type of smartphone? Land we're doing everything we can to make ourselves and our solution as accessible to them as possible. Like, we're adding in features like multiple languages and avatars that depict children that have different abilities so that everyone feels like the software is inclusive. So we're working to solve all of those problems, but the technology barrier is still a big one. Land it's one that I can't seem to solve even though I want to right now. So that is one that's out there and we're just hoping land praying that that will get better as we continue to grow and scale over time, because it definitely seems like all eyes are on those problems. The digital divide that we all recognize, that was even more pronounced when the pandemic hit because now children were struggling with access to education. So I think our government is now seeing and realizing the depth and breadth of the problem as well. And so I think as our eyes are more attentive to those issues, that those problems will lessen over time. That's really what I hope and need for us going forward.

Jeffrey Stern [00:42:58]:

Yeah. Reflecting on the last few years, taking Augment therapy from this idea to a company, what are some of the learnings and reflections that you have on just putting this all together? And as a first time founder coming from the clinical world, what are some of your takeaways?

Lindsay Watson [00:43:17]:

Well, as a first time founder, I would definitely say all the inexperience that I had ended up being a benefit to me. Because honestly, if I knew it was going to be this hard or there are this many barriers, I may not have done it early on, I may have just thrown the towel in early on. So my ignorance to some degree has been a great asset to me because I'm just trudging forward not knowing that, oh, that might be a difficult battle ahead, I just go for it full throttle, not knowing. Land that's a gift, but yeah, that's what I would say for that.

Jeffrey Stern [00:44:00]:

How do you think you can get more clinicians to kind of run with that? I don't know if it's like a ubiquitous feeling and in your time talking with other people, practicing in the healthcare space, if they have these ideas that they want to pursue, but feel that kind of impostor syndrome that you described earlier on, is that something that resonates, that a lot of these practitioners feel?

Lindsay Watson [00:44:28]:

Oh, yeah, I beat that drum a lot. Like on social media and things like that, of the power of clinician driven innovation. Because you're right, I mean, there is an absolute wealth of ideas, I believe that clinicians have right now and that aren't pushing the envelope on it, because they're staying in their lane like I did for so many years. Land I am always beating the drum of that they should get out there and solve those problems because I do think that innovation may even accelerate more if the clinicians jump into the pond with the rest of us because they're the ones feeling the pain. And so many times the people that are driving innovation are incredible minds, but they haven't felt that problem. Land when you haven't felt the problem, that really does change the dynamic of the company going forward. And there's just such a deep value to it. So I think clinicians should absolutely jump in. The water's warm.

Jeffrey Stern [00:45:37]:

I guess beyond the kind of cordial invitation. Imagine a world where you kind of had the unlimited resources. Is there something you think that would unlock that potential? Land bring more clinicians to the entrepreneurial world?

Lindsay Watson [00:45:52]:

I think everybody is always trying to figure out initially the challenge was how do you work and build a company simultaneously? And that was very challenging for me. The first two and a half years I was working as a therapist, I would wake up at four in the morning, work for 4 hours, go to work, treat kids, come home, feed my family, and then I'd work the evening on the startup. And I did that for a few years. I think if we could figure out that problem, a lot more people would probably do it. But ultimately, again, it comes down to passion. Like if this is a problem, you know, would change lives, if you devoted some energy and time to it, then more people would go for it. More organizations, obviously as well, that are designed to help entrepreneurs get things off the ground. I was lucky that I had a lot of mentors around me that were constantly pushing me forward. And having good people, good voices around you is the best thing you can do. People that there's no real payoff for them to help you just out of the goodness of their heart. That's a very good thing. To find those people that have been there, done that, and have altruistic motivations there.

Jeffrey Stern [00:47:23]:

Yeah, again, that resonates. I'll come back to the other question I had asked earlier. You mentioned the follow up, but it was just any kind of other learnings that you've taken away from the experience over the last few years.

Lindsay Watson [00:47:35]:

I feel like it's been such a gift. Honestly, I had no idea that I had this in me. Number one, I was comfortable in my career. It was maybe too comfortable. I was really strolling through my career, feet up on the table, expert quote in what I was doing. But going out on a limb has been just completely invigorating. And I had no idea that I had this entrepreneurial side to me. And so it has just totally ratcheted up the color in my own life. So I would encourage people to just go out there and do it and try it, because on the other side it's hard, but it's just so incredible. So incredible.

Jeffrey Stern [00:48:28]:

Wow. Yeah. My closing question for everyone is ultimately trying to paint a cumulative collage of not necessarily people's favorite things in Cleveland, but hidden gems, things that other people may not know about. And so with that, that is the question.

Lindsay Watson [00:48:46]:

So I thought about this in advance, so I'm ready with my answer. So, my family, we like to go to a place in Burton that is called Quintilia's Tea Parlor. It's a tea room and I'm married two boys and a daughter and my whole family, we love to go there. That's our special occasion. And the make the most amazing soups and sandwiches and quiches and it's just this little tiny tea parlor and it's really fun just to have a little special occasion with the family.

Jeffrey Stern [00:49:24]:

Wow. Yeah. That sounds amazing. Another new one. The collage grows. No. That's awesome. Well, Lindsay, I really appreciate you coming on and telling your story. It's very clear the passion and enthusiasm you have for what you're building and the impact that it can have. So from afar, I'm rooting for you. Land, I appreciate you coming on.

Lindsay Watson [00:49:48]:

Thank you. I really enjoyed it, Jeffrey, and it's nice to meet you and I wish you well in your startups as well. Land, thanks for doing this for Cleveland. We need to highlight more people on their trudge yeah.

Jeffrey Stern [00:50:03]:

As we all smack our heads against the proverbial brick wall.

Lindsay Watson [00:50:09]:

Loopy, but passionate.

Jeffrey Stern [00:50:12]:

Yeah. Well, if people have anything that they want to follow up with you about, where is the best place for them to do so?

Lindsay Watson [00:50:19]:

Anyone can reach out to me on LinkedIn or they could email me. My email address is Lindsay Watson. L-I-N-D-S-A-Y Watson. Watson. At augmenttherapy two t's Find me there.