There are over 40 million Americans impacted by Substance Use Disorder every year. And even though technological advances are disrupting and improving many industries at faster rates than ever before, the treatment and recovery industry has largely been left behind. Kyros, a digital platform company for recovery services, is addressing this issue. Kyros makes it easy for people to get the treatment they need (covered by insurance) and helps ensure long-term wellness by providing stable and fulfilling work opportunities for folks in recovery. To learn more about the company, Pulse 2.0 interviewed founder and CEO Daniel Larson.
Daniel Larson’s Background
Larson, who has had several friends and family members battle addiction, started his own recovery journey in 2019.
“Through this, I experienced firsthand the administrative obstacles that stood in the way of recovery even after someone has committed to taking that essential first step. It’s critical that we get people the help they need the moment they are ready to receive it. I witnessed a group of people that were passionate about helping others and would help everyone that walked through the door – if they only had the time. The value that these professionals provide is so much greater than the administrative work that was taking up so much of their time and I knew that by providing software that could manage that backend work, I could give this industry more time,” Larson reflected.
Formation Of Kyros
The idea for Kyros was inspired by Larson’s own experience navigating his recovery journey. He quickly realized there was a huge opportunity to leverage technology to increase positive recovery outcomes for the millions of people affected by Substance Use Disorder.
“Kyros bridges the enormous gap between those seeking support and those able to meet that need by connecting clients with providers and streamlining functions like billing, required insurance coverage, access to insurance contracting, and workforce management,” said Larson.
Challenges Faced Building The Company
What were some of the challenges that Larson faced in building the company?
“This is an area riddled with shame and fear. Stigmatization and misunderstanding of Substance Use Disorder prevent people from discussing their experiences and seeking treatment. Deciding to seek help is already a HUGE hurdle for people to clear, so support needs to be available and accessible at that essential moment,” Larson explained. “This stigmatization has also led to the industry being left largely unchanged for decades and existing professionals must do what they can with the limited resources available to them. There is an “old guard” way of thinking that believes things should continue as they always have and at times this makes it difficult to introduce innovative approaches without some parts of the industry taking it personally. A Substance Use Disorder diagnosis, and an understanding of mental health issues that often accompany it, is a relatively new concept. So when people say things like – this is the way that it’s always been done or an extreme improvement from the way we use to do it, they are right. Many of the leaders of these organizations have been around as long as the disease has been legitimized by the DSM so it can make for a tough sell in an industry that’s never truly been disrupted before.”
What are Kyros’ core products and features? Kyros’ digital marketplace serves clients seeking treatment and the providers who help. Kyros partners with programs by providing additional resources to their clients, connecting them with Kyros Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialists, facilitating both in-person and online interactions, and offloading all the paperwork from the provider. This streamlines access to business services like liability insurance, billing, payments, and clinical supervision to the Peer Support Specialists so it becomes a true bolt-on capability for programs that want to provide quality Peer Support but do not have the resources to build their own program.
Plus Kyros works to pair clients and providers that share similar backgrounds and demographics, offering the highest opportunities for success by tailoring each individual’s experience to suit their needs.
“We partner agnostically with any organization that works within the Substance Use Disorder or mental health field to support people where they need us and have the highest likelihood of a successful outcome,” Larson pointed out. “In addition to the initial recovery support we provide, I’m particularly proud of how Kyros makes it easy to sustain recovery by providing the pathway to a fulfilling career. Many folks in recovery have criminal records or other background details that can make finding work challenging; and without work or purpose, it can be a slippery slope back into use. By training clients to become Certified Peer Recovery Specialists (CPRS) through strategic partnerships with nonprofits, we provide free training that leads to stable employment opportunities no matter a client’s history.”
Evolution Of Kyros’ Technology
How has Kyros’ technology evolved since launching?
“Kyros actually started as a Free Client Advocacy Mobile App and Community. Clients would go online, and log events and appointments – i.e. group classes, probation, volunteer hours, etc. and the app would build a ‘Credibility Report’ for the clients to bring to Probation Meetings, Drug Court, Child Protective Services, etc. That way they could advocate for themselves objectively to produce better outcomes,” Larson revealed. “What we found out is that many of the clients that we worked with had no idea how to even get started when it came to engaging these resources and services. We provided over 3,500 hours of volunteer Peer Recovery Services before realizing it needed to be a workforce solution instead of an advocacy tool. What I realized is that no one is really thinking about their next probation appointment when they don’t have a way to get housing, food, or transportation, so we needed to solve those problems first.”
Most Significant Milestones
What have been some of Kyros’ most significant milestones?
Over the last year, the company’s work has resulted in over 66 organizational partners, 1,800 clients served, a workforce of more than 180 peers (approximately 30% of all working CPRS in the state of Minnesota), and 45% of clients are in communities of color.
Plus the community and partner network has been built simply by meeting people where they are and helping them to accomplish the goals they want to achieve.
“As a society, we are all in this crisis together, and that knowledge drives how we’ve built the company,” Larson emphasized.
Customer Success Story
When I asked Larson about a customer success story, he cited a testimonial from Kyros’ Certified Peer Recovery Specialists, Gavin Ovshak: “Though this job is not easy, I know I am making a difference and helping save lives. Kyros has become a second family to me and I always know someone will be there for me when I am struggling, just like I am able to be there for others. Through my employment with Kyros, I have had many firsts – first apartment, first phone bill, first new car, and my first laptop. Most importantly, Kyros has enabled me to chase my dreams and help other people chase their dreams.”
Kyros has raised $7.3 million in venture funding. And this includes a $500,000 seed round in June 2021 and most recently a $4.4 million round, and a follow-on round of 2.4 million led by Rally Ventures in October 2022.
Total Addressable Market
What is the total addressable market (TAM) size that Kyros is pursuing? Recovery is a $43 billion industry that is poised to grow to more than $53 billion in the next few years with additional funding coming in from recent opioid settlements.
Differentiation From The Competition
Kyros partners with Refocus Recovery to provide free Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS) training in the state of Minnesota followed by immediate opportunities for employment as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. That is a huge differentiator.
“Many folks enter recovery with few resources available to build back their lives and paying hundreds of dollars for training is a limiting factor for many, and for those who do pay to be certified, it often means starting their work as a CPRS with the pressure of debt hanging over them when they’re already vulnerable,” Larson replied. “After certification, Kyros gives our CPRS’ a paycheck and a path forward: the ability to work flexible hours and create individual schedules, a professionalized payscale that is 20 percent more than the industry average, career and personal development support, and the proper technology and tools needed to provide the best care possible to their clients while reducing their administrative burden.”
Future Company Goals
What are some of Kyros’ future company goals? “We have ambitious plans to become a national offering and make Substance Use Disorder recovery possible for anyone and everyone – everywhere. It is our mission to transform the recovery space and become the most trusted, seamless, timely, and holistic platform for people living with Substance Use Disorder and professionals devoted to helping those in recovery thrive,” Larson concluded.