By Chris Olsen
Fueled by Purpose is the nonprofit sister company to My Founder Story and is dedicated to providing resources to female-identifying founders. Since 2018, more than $200,000 in grants and services have been donated to women business owners. To learn more and apply, visit our grants page.
Catherine Freeman and her cousin Carmyn Thompson were both in the process of pursuing medical careers. Carmyn was in nursing school while Catherine was beginning clinical nursing rotations to gain hands-on experience working in different areas of the hospital. During one of those rotations, she was placed in a speech therapy unit where she had the opportunity to work directly with kids who needed help putting sounds together into words and using words to communicate. It was then that she knew she’d found the specific career path she wanted to pursue—speech language pathology.
Catherine persuaded Carmyn to shift her major as well, and she continued to work as an RN while earning her master’s degree. They both became certified speech language pathologists and planned to start a private practice together. When Catherine’s daughter was diagnosed with autism, the women realized they had a unique opportunity to serve an audience near and dear to their hearts—the autism and special needs community. That’s when AuTKonnect was born.
AuTKonnect provides speech therapy services and sensory-friendly events and products. Catherine and Carmyn specialize in developing individualized treatment plans that meet the unique needs of each client. And because Catherine is intimately aware of the kinds of challenges families with special needs face, they also created the AuTKonnect mobile app. It provides autism caregivers with important information and resources, right at their fingertips. Users can search for venues, events, vacations, adaptive activities and more, as well as participate in online forums with others in the autism and special needs community.
COVID forced AuTKonnect to cancel its social skills summer camps and other in-person sensory-friendly events and seminars. So the women took the opportunity to pivot their business and launched Konnect Kraze, a subscription service offering boxes filled with fun and educational items and activities for kids with autism. The boxes have been very well received and are especially helpful for parents who are now working from home with kids in tow. Carmyn and Catherine envision growing Konnect Kraze and offering the boxes worldwide. They’ll use the Fueled by Purpose micro grant to support the company’s marketing efforts.
To learn more about and apply for a Fueled by Purpose micro grant, visit our grants page.
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.