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


Saltroad, a children’s speech and language therapy (SLT) startup, has raised £575,000 in pre-seed funding. The investment, led by Techstart Ventures with participation from Ascension VC, will enable Saltroad to build a core team in Belfast and deliver SLT services across the UK.

Key Goals for the Funding

  1. Building a Core Team: Saltroad aims to establish a robust team in Belfast to manage and deliver its services.
  2. Platform Development: The funds will also be used to hire more engineers to enhance Saltroad’s platform, which connects parents with registered speech therapists.

Addressing a Critical Need

In the UK, two million children currently require SLT. According to SLT UK, a charity advocating for better support, children struggling with speech and language are significantly impacted throughout their lives. These children are six times more likely to fall behind in English by age 11, twice as likely to face unemployment as adults, and more prone to mental health issues.

Founders’ Vision and Expertise

Saltroad was founded by husband and wife team Darren and Debi Lester. Darren previously built and sold, an online marketplace for construction products. Debi brings over 12 years of experience as a speech and language therapist in both the NHS and private sector. Together, they aim to transform the way children and families access SLT and how therapists work.

Reducing Wait Times and Increasing Capacity

The digital marketplace developed by Saltroad aims to reduce lengthy waiting times for therapy, which have previously extended up to two years. By removing administrative burdens for private practitioners, the platform hopes to increase market capacity, allowing more children to receive timely therapy.

Debi Lester’s Perspective

Debi Lester emphasized the importance of early intervention and ongoing support for children with speech, language, or communication needs. “Current SLT provision in the UK (and beyond) simply doesn’t meet the need,” she said. “We are heading for a pretty bleak future for the next generation if this isn’t addressed.”

With their combined expertise and the new funding, the Lesters are poised to make a significant impact on the SLT landscape in the UK, ensuring better life chances for children in need of these critical services.

Related Stories