Meet our 12th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees!

Celebrate with us! Tickets on sale for the annual awards celebration on Thursday, February 23, 2023.


Palm Beach County, Florida
Founded: 2019

ReachLink connects individuals seeking to improve their mental health with licensed therapists in their state.


Health Care and Social Assistance

Employee Growth

150% increase from 2019 – 2021

Revenue Growth

10,356% increase from 2019 – 2021

James headshot

James Farese

Founder & CEO

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Before ReachLink, starting in 2015, I worked in the drug and alcohol rehab industry. As an operator in Florida, many of our patients came from the Midwest or the Northeast. Often times patients would come to Florida for treatment and then go back home. We’d watch patients do well for about six months and then relapse and go back into treatment. I was watching what often times turned in to a constant revolving door scenario with patients being in and out of treatment several times before they would have any substantial clean time. In 2018, after seeing this, I thought telemedicine would be an interesting way to extend the continuum of care and help smooth the transition from institutional care back into the world. I launched ReachLink in 2019 with the thesis to be an aftercare solution for people suffering from addiction post-discharge. In 2020, COVID happened and the whole world went online and started using telehealth options. During that time, ReachLink started to get requests for more general mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and stress. Because of that, we decided to expand our scope of care from just addiction to include general mental health.

Did you know you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I was always very entrepreneurial. I think back to as early as 10 years old; I was charging neighbors $5 per week to bring their newspapers or mail up to their door. I like building things and finding out-of-the-box solutions to problems. 

Tell us about ReachLink and the value you bring to your customers.

ReachLink is an online Telehealth platform for people seeking to improve their mental health. We’re not necessarily a matchmaking service but instead the technology solution and the health care provider in one. If you think about a doctor’s office, the doctors and nurse practitioners are there at a physical location. We’ve done the same thing but brought it online. Instead of a physical office, we built a technology platform to serve the customers. We view our providers as our customers just as much as the end user  (the person receiving the therapy). We look at it as serving two customer segments. We’re building one side of the technology for the provider to make their life easier and more efficient in running their caseload.  Then on the flip side, for clients, we’re looking to make quality care more accessible, more affordable, and more convenient. We’ve really tried to take the guesswork out of getting mental health care. It’s self-service and flexible, so people can rebook a session when they want, how they want it, and take it where they want it.  Most importantly, it’s affordable. 

How do you differentiate yourselves from others in the industry?

On the provider side, we take all the complexity out of being a therapist. We do all the marketing, billing and other administrative work. Providers can decide how many patients they want when they want those patients. To make it even easier for them, we built a tool that uses AI to write medical notes for them. Through that, we’ve reduced note-taking time from 30 minutes down to about six minutes per session. That allows for less workload on the provider which allows them to care for more clients. In the industry, network capacity is a huge issue right now. For most online care, there’s a waitlist for at least a few weeks, sometimes months. For that, we see finding a way for the provider to work less on administrative tasks and focus more on seeing patients as a win.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while growing your business?

Building any business is a challenge in itself. We weren’t a venture track company. We didn’t build a lot of relationships in terms of fundraising at the beginning because we never intended to scale it up. It was intended to be a boutique company. The first big challenge we faced was access to capital. Fortunately, we’re based at the Research Park at FAU and they have a network of investors that we were able to tap into and find an investor that we felt was the right fit for our business.

Secondly, when we started, we were one of the very few companies in our space pre-COVID. Now, post-COVID, not only is every existing company offering a telemedicine solution but there are so many new entrants into the marketplace that saw the opportunity. Since then, we’ve faced stiff competition. We were forced to think of out-of-the-box ways to serve our clients. In addition to setting ourselves apart with things like the AI note-taking tool for our providers, we made the decision to pay our providers weekly instead of biweekly or monthly, like some other platforms. Providers favor that and it was a strategic decision that we had to make because that impacted our business. If you think about it, we don’t get paid by insurance companies for months. That means we’re floating many cycles of payroll before we get paid on the first claim. Making that pay cycle decision and having that floating payroll was daunting at the time, but it allowed us to retain and attract new talent that we otherwise would not have. We also looked at other competitors in the market and noticed most of them were over-hiring. They would hire as many therapists as possible and then it would take them months to fill up their caseload. We decided to grow a bit more slowly and more manageably. It was important for us to be deliberate about when we hired to make sure that we could guarantee they’d see patients right away.  That helped to make a good first impression during the hiring process, so they knew that we had the ability to give them clients.

What makes your company culture unique?

We started the business on license technology that was off the shelf but made the decision early on to build our own technology platform. The reason we did that was that many of the solutions out there were built for many different specialties and you had to customize it to your specialty. We would purchase these sophisticated platforms that ended up being more cumbersome because they had more features than what really applied to us. We built a streamlined platform, not just for our clients and our providers to be able to self-service, but because we wanted to create automation on the team member side. The way that we’ve been able to grow and maintain a good culture and keep people happy, is reliant on automation. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to automate internal workflows, not to replace our core staff, but because we want them to use their time on things that have to be done manually. Now it’s at the point where employees come to us and say, “Hey, can you automate this?”  There’s no fear that if we automate this, they may be out of a job. We’ve created a culture of getting the team to think about which features to automate so we can be most productive. When new things come up, there’s the capacity in our core team to handle that without having to bring on additional people. 

What are some of the goals you have for your company?

Right now, our application is a web app that you access through a browser on your phone or on a computer. Our biggest goal right now is to roll that out as an iOS and Android app where we can offer additional features as well. As an example, we recently launched a journaling feature in our app free of charge. So, in between sessions, if you don’t have the ability to talk with your therapist between sessions, you could journal what you’re feeling in the moment and then review it with your therapist on the next call. We’re adding these “freemium” benefits that will enhance the user experience. It drives user engagement. Our main internal goal is launching a native app where we plan to offer additional features, like journaling, that allows us to give value upfront. Then if people have a good experience, they would be more inclined to use our providers. The idea is that the app will serve as a ‘try before you buy’ experience for our clients. 

Do you have a proudest moment so far?

Outside of being recognized by GrowFL, we were honored as a South Florida Business Journal’s Best Company to Work in 2022. That was a huge milestone for us because we spend a lot of time trying to make sure our employees enjoy working here. We want people to want to work here. As we continue to grow after covid, we try to be cognizant about what would make a good employee experience. That recognition encapsulated our core beliefs and values, and it was nice to receive recognition for it. Of course, I think it helps with retention and hiring, too, because it lets people know that we care about our employees and our team. It’s not just all about the business. We need people to care because our business is caring about other people and that starts with us caring about our people.

What does it mean to you to be selected as an Honoree this year?

It’s awesome. I’ve known about GrowFL for several years through the Research Park. Additionally, Dr. Tom O’Neal has been a mentor of mine through 35 Mules for almost a year now and I had no idea he founded GrowFL until recently! That was a cool full-circle moment. I’ve come to realize how recognized GrowFL is throughout the state, so for us to be recognized by GrowFL is a huge accomplishment. It means a lot to us given GrowFL’s pedigree in Florida and in the business community.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Keep going. Stay the course and trust your gut. Keep the blinders on and stay focused on what your mission is. The biggest takeaway from my experience is to not let other people cloud your judgment. Do it because you want to do it, and not for some external motivator. Do it because you love it and it makes you happy.   

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