Tuesday, August 29, 2023

An opportunity to relocate to Iowa gave Lori Palmer an opportunity to grow as an entrepreneur.

A registered nurse with a B.S. in nursing, Palmer has always had an entrepreneurial interest and pursued an MBA to learn more about the business side of healthcare. After growing a medical practice for a group of physicians in Denver, Colorado, a move to Iowa prompted her to try her hand in owning and building a business for herself. For six years she owned, operated, and successfully generated income from a commercial cleaning company targeting healthcare clinics.

The idea for Palmer’s new company, SimplSupport, was inspired by her mother-in-law, whose greatest wish was to stay in her home in her final years. Because of declining health, her mother-in-law required numerous medical appointments.

“She didn't drive, so it was up to us as a family to try to help coordinate her appointments,” Palmer said.

Because of travel time from Des Moines to northern Iowa, medical appointments zapped an entire day, so Palmer began looking for alternatives. She understood the medical profession and became frustrated with the options available to them as a family.

“I wanted a nurse who could attend the appointments and talk to me about the plan of care,” Palmer said. “I needed a person with a high-level understanding of lab values, medications changes, and diagnostics.”

Through traditional options, families are typically assigned a medical aide with no guarantee of getting the same person twice. That meant there was no consistency with the care provider and there wasn’t a high level of medical education to be the eyes and ears when the family couldn’t be there. While searching for better options to alleviate stress on her family, SimplSupport was born.

“I know that nurses would like to help people like this, but how do they find people that need help?” Palmer said. “The idea came for a platform where people could post their care needs and nurses could pick up nurse-gig work.”

The solution filled the gap where insurance may not provide coverage, but support is still needed.

Palmer sold her cleaning company and is using the funds to start SimplSupport.

“I'm 100% building this business right now,” she said.

In Spring 2023, Palmer enrolled in the Des Moines cohort of Venture School, sponsored by the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. She shared first place and won $1,500 at the final pitch competition, then was invited to Venture School Statewide Launch Day on June 7-8 in Iowa City. SimplSupport topped 10 other business pitches and earned $15,000.

“Venture School is an environment where you can fine-tune your messaging,” Palmer said. “It's a great experience to stand up each week, pitch your business concept, and see how it lands. There is no other environment that I've experienced where you can continuously receive helpful peer and mentor feedback on what it is you’re trying to convey.”

Palmer plans a soft launch of SimplSupport in Des Moines in July of 2023. After testing the market, the intention is to expand across Iowa and eventually as a national platform.

“Venture School made me take a hard look at all avenues of the business,” Palmer said. “It drilled into specifics so that we can have a targeted focus on the market we serve.”

To participate in one of the Venture School Fall cohorts, click HERE.