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Team CRV

Families Need More Than Daycare and Diapers — CRV’s Investment in Little Otter, the Mother-Daughter Founded Company Providing Holistic Family Mental Health Care

By Kristin Baker Spohn, General Partner

“New Year, New You,” is a common phrase this time of year, but with the virus once again surging, “Groundhog Day” might be a more apt headline. As we enter year three of the pandemic, many of us are yearning to pull a Punxsutawney Phil, burrow back underground and hope for better news in the coming weeks. Much has been discussed when it comes to COVID fatigue, growing anxiety and weariness in adults, but little has been done to combat the mental health crisis that is plaguing America’s youth.

In the United States, 18 percent of the population are kids 14 years old or younger — that’s over 60 million children. Shockingly nearly 20 percent of children face some form of mental health need or disorder (depression, anxiety, ADHD), but simultaneously there is a shortage of care — nearly 75 percent of U.S. counties do not have a child psychiatrist and the wait times are typically 8–16 weeks. As a mom to two young children, reading milestones simply haven’t been the most pressing pandemic priorities for me. My biggest concern was arming my daughter with the tools she needed to be less anxious heading into her new school and helping her forge bonds with her new classmates. Clearly the kids, and their struggling families, are not all right or as David Leonhardt at The New York Times eloquently stated earlier this week, here in America there is, “No Way to Grow Up.”

It’s for all of these reasons that CRV is thrilled to lead today’s Series A investment in Little Otter. Not only because the timing is right, but because Little Otter has the right team in place to tackle this issue. Little Otter was founded by a dynamic mother-daughter duo. Helen Egger MD led the child psychiatry practice at Duke University and also at NYU Langone. Her 30 plus years of work as a researcher, clinician and pioneer in the child mental health field make her perfectly poised to serve as Little Otter’s chief medical and scientific officer. The rapidly growing pediatric mental telehealth company has another talented lady in the driver’s seat — Rebecca Egger who serves as the company’s CEO. Prior to co-founding Little Otter with her mother, Rebecca was a product leader at Palantir before leaving to build the Infectious Disease program at Chan Zuckerberg.

The growing awareness of pediatric mental health needs, reduced stigma of therapy and the rapid adoption of telehealth has fueled Little Otter’s significant growth over the past year.

Utilizing a holistic approach, Little Otter incorporates family and/or caregiver involvement in the pediatric therapy, rather than just treating children with the mental health need or disorder as the sole patient and is one of the unique aspects of its approach that resonates with us. It’s a one stop shop for families who want access to a full umbrella of services that will support not only their children but their entire family. The company will use the funds from its $22 million Series A to support its hiring and growth plans, so if you’re in the market for an exciting career at a company that’s truly making a difference in the lives of families, you may want to consider one of the Little Otter’s open roles.

At CRV we’re excited about the journey ahead for this female led company that is making mental health care for families personalized, on-demand and even more importantly family focused. As pediatric mental health becomes a top priority for government, payer and school funding, prominent figures discuss their mental health journeys more openly, and parents themselves see the benefit of therapy on their own lives, we’re hopeful that the interest in and access to mental health care services continues to expand, and change the game for children and their families.

If you’re reading this and you’re a founder who’s seeking to change the way healthcare is provided, the CRV team and I would love to hear from you. We’re always interested in meeting with entrepreneurs who are looking at complex problems and solving them with innovative new technology solutions.

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CRV is a VC firm that invests in early-stage enterprise, consumer and biotech startups. We’ve invested in +400 startups like DoorDash, Airtable and Iterable.