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Special Circle: Connected Special Education and Autism app

by Lawrence S. Lin

Mobile, cloud, shared IEP (personalized goals), dashboard + alerts + reports. "Improvement built on engagement".
Garden City Park, NY United States Autism Patient Power Tools! Managed Care Equity Raise MedStartr Ventures challenge

All Team Company Patients Physicians Hospital Partners Mission Innovation Details Investor Info Due Diligence Docs Supporters Comments Updates

About our project

The problem we solve: Problem: 12 million special needs kids in USA experience “information asymmetry”/ segmentation; lack of visibility; paper-based; inefficiency; misalignment of therapy goals; and general lack of engagement, contribute to poor student outcomes. Currently, there are lots of paper (homework, claims, therapy records, government audits) and non-engaging apps from competitors. Our solution is unique. we offer - IEP goals centralized data tracking, speed-to-market, proven business model from mainstream health industry. ==> We do so with alerts, dashboards, reports, for each of the key users groups - Insurance, school, agencies, and parents.

About our solution: It is an applications to connect all stakeholders in treatment of children with special needs / autism. These include- - Dashboards/ reports/ alerts, - Social media interaction. - Modules for parents, insurance, government, therapist agencies, hospitals and other key groups Our solution elevates efficiency, achieves "patient / caretaker engagement", unify everyone through individual care plan (IEP) integration, claims processing, Imagine - 0 paperwork, 100% signed forms “in the cloud”. HIPAA compliant, Meaningful Use Incentives ready. ==> Patients and parents are entitled to receive their own progress information - Special Circle collects and shares it with them plus whoever else they "bring into the circles".

Progress to date:

We have completed our initial beta tests with parents, agencies and therapists. 


Our application is currently available on AppStore at  


You can also see product walkthrough at  . 


Our users LOVE our application.  Special Circle key outcomes include:  helping therapy session to maximize time spent with child (from 35 min per hour to 50+ minutes), accelerate signed claims collection (from 3 days down to 5 min.), % forms collected (100% vs 35%), ability to move through IEP objectives with consensus, and docs shared/viewed by all (up to 86%).

About Our Team

Creator: Lawrence S. Lin

Location: New York

Bio: Healthcare IT management consultant with 30 years of experience, with key success areas of: PMP-certified project management, PMO project management office design/operation, cost reduction through process reengineering, healthcare (insurer, hospital, HIT vendors, pharmaceutical) and government (e.g. state healthcare, Medicaid, SCHIP) industry focus, technology skills (e.g. SDLC, SQL Oracle operations, php scripting, IV&V), proposal generation, supervisory experience, and big-four methodology. Winner of Deloitte Consulting "Project of the Year" award for Strategy/Operations (S&O) - 2008, Liaison Ascend "best sales proposal" award - 2012. Specialties: HIE, ACO, analytics, benchmark, sales deal closure, Program Management, PMO, contract administration; HIPAA: 4010A migration to 5010; Transactions, Privacy (policies, procedures, final regulation); Security (e.g. authentication, email encryption disaster recovery/emergency mode operation, audit trail, access log, physical security, access privileges); payer-side operational issues (e.g. claims, call center, EDI, clearinghouse operation, facilities, compliance, audits, documentation, training), MMIS, MITA version 2.0 SS-A, CMMI, SDLC.

Title: Founder - CEO

Advanced Degree(s): MSHS (health systems), MBA (global eCommerce)

About Team Members

Darren Yang
CTO & Co-Founder, 1) M.S., Computer & IS Security/Info Assurance; 2). M.S. CS Networking & TelCom
Biography: Experienced Chief Technology Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the consumer electronics industry. Skilled in System Stability Test, Functional Test, Project Manager, C/C++, Android system, and Global Positioning System (GPS). Lead oversea development team to build the project (worked with this team closely on prior projects; Agile methodology for nightly new releases/ rapid buildout). Innovation product team member in HTC. Work with Facebook to build new hero project in 2011. Member of two global NGO’s. Led g0v Hackathon@NYC in 2016.
Title: CTO & Co-Founder
Advanced Degree(s): 1) M.S., Computer & IS Security/Info Assurance; 2). M.S. CS Networking & TelCom

About Our Company

Special Circle Inc

Location: 2417 Jericho Turnpike, Unit 246
Unit 246
Garden City Park, NY 11040

Founded: 2016



Product Stage: Prototype/MVP

YTD Sales: Working on it

Employees: 1-2

How We Help Patients

  • Patients' parents will finally see their children's own progress data!  All in one place.
  • Parents of these children will be able to sort through all paper copies, homeworks, assessments, evaluations, and other educational and treatment data.
  • Parents can now plan with wide variety of teachers, therapists, government agencies, insurance companies.
  • Parents can now sign documents a lot more quickly - through digitally signed documents, and not to wait a long time to see those produced from therapists - nor will they be rushed to sign something that is too broadly written.
  • Patients (children) now can maximize amount of time they spend with their teachers and therapists!  In a 60-minutes session, we expect them to spend at least 45 minutes (if not up to 55 minutes) - therapists won't be stopping too early just to write paper forms.
  • Therapists will be led to actually treat children based on what worked, what should be continued, what everyone should "focus fire-power together" on.  

How We Help Physicians

  • Therapists (occupational therapist, physical, social, feeding, social integration, and many other types of therapists) can now focus more time on actual treatment - less on documentation
  • They can see what the other therapists and educators have started to work on.  This definitely creates "continuity of care".
  • Therapists and teachers can now better plan out each session, based on a group of shared IEPs (individual educational plans) - plus they (along with parents) have ability to further customize care / treatment based on child's unique needs and progress areas.
  • Therapists can now consult others, in "therapists' circle", for more difficult situation that they alone can't treat.
  • Therapists get reimbursed easily - all claims and government paperworks are now all in cloud storage through their mobile devices.  Signature process is immediate and well-organized.
  • Therapists comply with audit requirements effortlessly now.  They no longer have to store large number of completed notes for multiple years in paper files.
  • They travel from site to site, from patient to patient, without needing to lug huge binders around.
  • On the other hand, pediatricians can see a year's worth of data without needing to piece together large amount of paperworks.
  • Nurses and clinical staff can care for all patients throughout the year - contact them effortlessly in "cirlces, post-walls".
  • Researchers can aggregate data across different population, geographies, conditions, age groups, treatment / therapy protocols much easier through Special Circle's large patient populations
  • Psychiatrists and psychologists can document and share their assessment results much easier- with parents, other treatment providers, with schools (dept of Education - that pays for these assessments) and insurances.

How We Help Hospitals

  • Hospitals now have ability to create case management and patient follow-up programs through Special Circle mobile app, that closely engage the patients and caregivers
  • Hospitals that specialize in Autism and special needs care will highly appreciate (and depend on) Special Circle's suite of functions - population wellness dashboard, progress notes at various levels, aggregate reports, key alerts
  • Hospitals can communicate and collaborate with other providers (therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, residential and transportation service providers) and funding parties (e.g. Medicaid plans, private insurance with request to exchange progress data) - without need to purchase expensive infrastructures or one-time software licenses
  • Cloud delivery model makes Special Circle scalable, quick/cheap to deploy, device independent, accessible anywhere
  • Special Circle takes care of other key components of overall solution that have stomped other HIT solutions before - HIPAA security, Meaningful Use measures, physical equipment obsolesence, support staff / costs, speed to deploy to dispersed sites, tool to collaborate with partners and other peers, data standardization, compliance to regulations (e.g. data retention, digital signature, claims EDI standards, ...)
  • Key clinical, administrative and nursing staff can be freed up - engaging patients and family and extended care professionals without developing additional FTEs and headcounts

How We Help Partners

  • Researchers benefit from access to large amount of real-time, honest and un-processed data
  • Government agencies easily can use data from Special Circle to ensure compliance, care equity, access to therapists, avoidance of fraud and abuse / waste
  • Related applications / services providers will benefit from partnerships with Special Circle, these include:
    • Claims processing peers (competitor) companies - can integrate with our "social integration" and numerous other modules
    • Educational material peers can integrate with us to push appropriate educational material to right patients / parents, at right times
    • Therapist recommendation tools can integrate with us - we provide "therapist outcomes" and other key metrics to enable them provide better matches to needy parents
    • Associations (Autism Speaks, The Autism Society) can offer our product to their members along with membership benefits
    • Conference and parent training organizers can partner with Special Circle to jointly host events
    • Consulting firms and other HIT vendors can integrate Special Circle into their product / services portfolio
    • EMR vendors can add Special Circle's core product or data outputs/feeds as a part of their special EMR extension
    • Educational cloud services (especially Google Classroom and other variants) can potentially acquire Special Circle to broaden their offering - white-label or wholly own
    • Insurance companies and third-party benefit administrators can put Special Circle in the heart of their patient engagement and newly-formed "special needs, behavioral health care management programs"

Challenge Mission

Key Milestones Achieved and Planned

  • First version published 2/1/2017, within 3 weeks of programming team formation
  • First patient-care outcomes proven through beta test agency - 8/30/2017
  • Approved for publication on Apple AppStore - 11/8/2017
  • Able to achieve "0% paperwork, 100% claims via PDF" 9/15/2017 

Our Competitive Advantages

  • Unifed goal - integration among school, agencies, department of Education, through school's "IEP" (individual education plan) system, with ability to amend goals real-time and propogate across
  • ABA therapy type built into our application, especially the data gathering and visualization tools (trials, success and failure plotting, % calculation)
  • Protected social engagement tool with multimedia files exchange and archiving - alleviates reliance on public tools (e.g. Facebook, Google drive, WhatsApp), or tools not optimized for structure engagement / sharing (e.g. text messages, emails, printed paper binders)
  • Directly incorporate NY state's required forms (e.g. Progress Notes, Attendance Sheet) and agency-requested forms (e.g. ABA data sheet); with ability to rapidly ramp up other agency-specific or school-district-specific forms (digitized)
  • Some of our competitors' founders do not have special needs direct experience.  Most of them have not been through complete, multi-faceted exposure to advanced HIT revolutions like Special Circle's founder has (e.g. HIPAA Privacy / Security / EDI, ICD-10, Mental Health Parity rule, HITECH / Meaningful Use / attestation process, full EMR buildout and deployments at multi-facility hospitals / clinics, patient portal creation for world-class insurance / devices / service companies, clearinghouse buildout, big-data / HIE projects, ACO, case management program, P

Barriers to Entry

  • Special Circle (just like other industry-leading companies like Facebook, Linkedin) rapidly deploys new features through Agile methodology, and pushes out new versions effortlessly to large number of users
  • We have large number of industry-changing functions that we can uniquely and rapidly deploy, from our Agile Product Function Backlog.  Some of these include: shared economy, live video feeds, wearable integration, geo-positioning-enhanced scheduling optimization, workflow engine, enhanced trust & authorization engine, integration to external social media platforms, buildout of clearinghouse functions (open data transformations and submission to insurances / government agencies), and much more.
  • Top leaders and advisory board - from NY's elite (NY Health 2.0, San Francisco's Blue Umbrella autism incubator, world-leading mental health transformer).
  • A list of CVs and institutional investors waiting to invest in us, once we reach milestones that they already laid out for us
  • Existing and growing alliances with dominant special needs organizations (e.g. Autism Speaks Long Island & national HQ, HIMSS)

Traction, Funding and Partners

  • Currently funded by angel investors ($30K), founder's investments ($30K) for a combined $60K
  • Other crowd-funding platform has tentatively shown williingness to list Special Circle with target of $5M (but that is not a healthcare-focused site)

Innovation Details

Intellectual Property Summary


Clinical Information

Nto yet - KPIs that we have collected so far are about more time spent with patients, higher rate of engagement and awareness, clarity on % of IEP (individual educational plan) goals attempted / succeeded / failed, etc.

Regulatory Status

This doesn't require FDA approval.

How we will use the funds raised

  • Market expansion (we have list of 500 therapy agencies in NY state to convert into our users)
  • Rapid increase of more functions (we have a long list of immediate next-phase functions to build out, to further distance ourself with peers)  e.g. geo-position, therapist rating and matching to families, live videos of sessions, online conferences, online purchase function for therapy products used by therapists, ...
  • Conference attendance, speaking engagements, sponsorships of relevant conferences / societies
  • Fundamental product infastructure (e.g. server and bandwidth expansions in cloud hosting facilities)
  • Partnership arrangements
  • Lobbying efforts at state legislatures (e.g. making special needs technology a requirement or incentive item in state budgets, strengthen HIPAA rules ensuring Autism/Special Needs data ownership by patients and families)

Thank You

I am the father of a special needs child, Bridget Lin.  She has benefitted a lot from care coordination that my wife (company COO) and I jointly amassed for her and other therapists.  Now we want to share this with rest of the world.

There are a lot more special needs children and adults all around us than we realize.  But our government agencies sure recognize it, and they pour a lot of money into early treatment of special needs - in K-12 education, in pediatric therapy programs, in Medicaid plan benefits, assistance to parents, etc.

... however, those funds are still spent in a system that is paper-based, not connected, not visible (KPI dashboards via big-data).  Let us bring best practices from mainstream healthcare industry rapidly into Autism and Special Needs!  "Improvement through Engagement".

Investor Info

Market Size

  • US special needs market $64B annually, about $2.4B spent on children's education/therapies. 
  • NYC alone spends about $300M annually on special education in K-12.
  • This is still a market without dominant automation vendor, ripe for Special Circle to revolutionize.  High payout, fast exit. 
  • Autism prevalence is increasing fast in wealthy countries ( ); Other peers have received sizable investment ( $22M, $6M).

Projected 3 Year Growth

Target revenue by 2011 = At least $3M.  

Company client count: 

  • 12,000 users (parents, therapists, teachers and other types); 
  • 500 agencies of various sizes and geographic locations;
  • 3 anchor accounts comprised of either state Medicaid plans, self-insured employer groups, insurance plans' autism case management programs, or third-party benefits administrators

Geographic coverages - most of the northeast states, 1-2 states in west coast, 2 international collaborations / NGOs

Revenue Model

  • We plan to rapidly scale up by selling to larger contracts - cloud managed Case Management program for special needs, at $20k - $500K+ a site and their whole populate (e.g. Blue Cross Blue Shield, employer groups).
  • Meanwhile, our short-term immediate growth will also come from helping small, medium and large therapy agencies to manage documents, process claims, prepare for audits and connect to the patients' parents at $500 - $5000 a year,
  • What will eventually take us to $3M revenue within 3 years - we plan to jointly sell to large state and federal government clients with our current partner (an international health conglomerate from Europe)~ $2M each


  • TheraNest,  Rethink Autism, Birdhouse are some of our competitors / peers.  They are all well-funded; some are showing good growth.  Others have folded and gone out of business when they don't know the market well, or focus just on "claims processing".
  • We also compete with people who write their own in-house apps, or use older rigid tools like Excel, Word;  or insecure / inconvenient tools like Facebook groups, WeChat/ WhatsApp groups, Google Docs, or even text messaging.
  • We are agile, and grasp a key concept that they don't - "improvement through engagement".  Our leaders have built solutions that involve HiTech / Meaningful Use funds, patient/ subscriber portals, wellness coaching, clinical data tied to outcomes data, etc.  


Product is still free to users now.  We have list of 80+ names and email addresses collected from our conference exhibits and speaking sessions to invite once we move current apps (Parent and Therapist versions) to versions 2.x.  

Also, through our Facebook footprint we can immediately reach 20K+ people on related and/or affiliated Facebook groups for Autism and Special Needs.

We have also been invited to speak and exhibit at numerous conferences that will easily get our monthly active users up to tens of thousands.  e.g. NAMI, Autism Speaks, Autism Society, state Medicaid conferences, and other regional Autism and other conditions' trade shows.

Due Diligence Docs

Please note that access to the company's confidential materials is limited. Click this button to request access from the Company and its representatives.



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