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Richmond-based startup AnswersNow has raised $1.8 million to help expand its online counseling service

Richmond-based startup AnswersNow has raised $1.8 million to help expand its online counseling service

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AnswersNow co-founders Jeff Beck and Adam Dreyfus.

AnswersNow co-founders Jeff Beck (left) and Adam Dreyfus.

A Richmond-based startup company that operates an online platform to help counsel parents of children with autism has raised $1.8 million to expand its services.

AnswersNow, which was founded in 2017, announced Tuesday that it had completed the seed funding round led by the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology.

The company had initially disclosed a $250,000 capital raise in November as part of the same funding round.

The investment funds will allow AnswersNow to expand its services beyond Virginia, working initially with insurance companies in several states, while also opening the platform nationwide to people who choose to use it via self-pay.

“I think we are going to initially start with four or five states in the short term,” said Jeff Beck, the chief executive officer of AnswersNow.

Beck said the company is looking to offer its services in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania and California. It already has some private-pay customers in Texas.

“We feel like we have got a pretty good playbook here in Virginia, both attracting clinicians to the platform and finding interested families either through one of their providers or through education or digital marketing,” said Beck, a licensed clinical social worker who co-founded the company with Adam Dreyfus, director of the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph’s Villa.

AnswersNow has developed into a telehealth solutions business by changing from a text-based messaging service to building its own online, video platform where clinicians can speak directly with families.

The company also plans to use the investment funds to make several key hires. AnswersNow has already hired two people for software engineering and is looking for people on the clinical services and marketing side of the business. The company, which mostly is working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, is looking nationwide for those services.

“We are finding that access to talent has no barriers when you are hiring a remote team,” Beck said. “We feel like over the last year we have set up some good procedures around working remotely. We feel like our company’s true north is as working as a virtual company.”

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