A Slice on Linda Buscemi and Scarlett Spring, Founders of TapRoot Interventions and Solutions
Scarlett Spring and Linda Buscemi had two very different professional upbringings, one from corporate pharmaceuticals and one from psychology. The commonality? Both have been indirectly touched by cognitive disorders, whether a family member or a client. In 2017 Buscemi convinced Spring to leave her role at another startup to work on building out proof of concepts for what would become TapRoot Interventions and Solutions. The goal of TapRoot is to help caregivers and long-term care communities take a behavioral approach to caring for those with cognitive impairments using AI engine, Ella.
Building a business centered around cognitive impairments in Arizona has proven to be beneficial, due to the unique model the state uses for treatment and the startup ecosystem as a whole. “They’re [Arizona] beginning to have this type of model where we’re keeping people out of higher levels of care based on the psychologists going in and creating the training programs and training the staff.” They’ve found that it’s already an innovative location for healthcare, so adoption of new technologies like that of TapRoot is easier than it may be in other regions. The startup ecosystem as a whole is “punctuated” according to Spring and Buscemi and has seen recent growth, especially in technology.
The one major downside of the Arizona startup ecosystem that Spring and Buscemi have experienced is the lack of capital compared to other regions, like the Bay Area. They’ve had to work a little harder to get funding, noting, “We will always need to work hard and prove that we are worthy of investors’ capital.” They started by bootstrapping through the beta launch, utilizing Buscemi’s reputation and network for their first clients while they generated revenue. While stepping into the institutional fundraising side, they’ve found it easy for investors to recognize the overall problem they’re solving, but ensuring the investor “understands the niche” can be a challenge. Spring and Buscemi have had to learn as they go and make mistakes in order to improve the fundraising process. “When you fall it’s okay. We learned so much from those [mistakes], it’s how we tell our story better.”
Being co-founders, the two find they balance each other out with different expertise. Spring describes Buscemi as having “an extra lens toward empathy” from having been a psychologist for 25 years, while Spring herself has experience on the business and startup sides. The main obstacle while forming their team was finding a technical partner since neither of them had experience in that realm of the business. From their co-founding experience, they recommend other entrepreneurs who are looking for or have co-founders to “Know your expertise and respect the other person for theirs… You need to have that diversity in a startup.” In addition to diversity in thought, they’ve been able to lean on each other and pick each other up through tough times while on their entrepreneurial journey.
Beyond insights on co-founder relationships, Spring and Buscemi have taken many learnings from building a company in an ever-changing technology space. “You never stop working toward that user experience, and you will never stop reiterating the technology… It’s always going to take a little longer than what your plan suggests, so you’re going to have to have patience, tenacity and believe that what you are doing is filling a niche.”
With TapRoot, Spring and Buscemi want caregivers to take care of themselves too, because it’ll result in overall better care. Spring analogizes this to putting your oxygen mask or seatbelt on before helping others. Ultimately, they are inspired by their work, and seeing caregivers have more success caring for their patients. Buscemi notes, “Seeing that smile, I’ve seen this smile for over a decade, and seeing how they light up when they’re actually able to provide the appropriate approach to reduce or prevent that behavior is awesome to see.” At the end of the day, this is how they measure the success of TapRoot, and are committed to continuing this journey.
Linda Buscemi worked as a psychologist in Phoenix, Arizona for 25 years, specializing mostly in geriatric and long-term care, along with consulting. She stepped into the entrepreneur role recently with Taproot Solutions and Interventions. Connect with Buscemi on LinkedIn.
Scarlett Spring started in corporate pharmaceuticals with AstraZeneca and VisionGate before co-founding and leading Taproot Interventions and Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. She is also a Board Member for NeoLight, Republic Bank of Arizona, and AVEO Oncology. Connect with Spring through LinkedIn.