Saltroad, Family-Run Speech Therapy Startup, Secures £575k Pre-Seed Funding

Saltroad, a children’s speech and language therapy (SLT) startup, has successfully raised £575,000 in pre-seed funding. The investment round was led by Techstart Ventures with participation from Ascension VC. The funds will be used to build a core team in Belfast to deliver SLT services across the UK and recruit more engineers to further develop Saltroad’s platform, which matches parents with registered speech therapists.

Addressing a Growing Need

With two million children in the UK currently requiring SLT, the demand for these services is significant. According to SLT UK, a charity organization advocating for better support, children who struggle with speech and language are six times more likely to lag behind in English by age 11, twice as likely to face unemployment as adults, and more prone to mental health issues.

Founders’ Vision

Husband and wife team Darren and Debi Lester founded Saltroad with the vision of reducing the long waiting times for therapy, which have historically been as long as two years. The startup aims to eliminate the tedious administrative tasks associated with running a practice, enabling private practitioners to focus more on delivering therapy. This approach is expected to create additional capacity in the market, allowing more patients to receive timely care.

Debi Lester brings over 12 years of experience as a speech and language therapist in both the NHS and the private sector. Her husband Darren previously built and sold, an online marketplace for construction products in the UK. Leveraging their combined expertise, they aim to revolutionize how children and families access SLT and how therapists work.

Impact and Future Plans

Debi Lester emphasized the importance of early intervention and long-term support for children with speech, language, or communication needs. “More and more children each year are being identified as having some sort of speech, language, or communication need. Early intervention, and in many cases ongoing long-term support, is absolutely vital in ensuring that these children have the same life chances as others. Current SLT provision in the UK (and beyond) simply doesn’t meet the need, and so we are heading for a pretty bleak future for the next generation if this isn’t addressed,” she said in an interview with UKTN.

With the new funding, Saltroad is poised to enhance its platform and expand its services, addressing a critical gap in the provision of speech and language therapy for children in the UK.

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