April 22, 2022 marks MeBe’s ninth year in business. Previously known as Autism Outreach of Southern California, founders Patrick and Abby Bunt signed their LLC documentation to officially become MeBe nine years ago today. Since then, MeBe has expanded their business operations to a number of locations from San Diego to San Jose to Seattle and more. Our mission to provide early intervention ABA services paired with parent education is a gap that has no boundaries, autism exists everywhere.
In celebration of our nine years running, Patrick and Abby sat down for a Q&A to update our MeBe Family on what we’ve accomplished thus far and where we intend to grow in the coming years.
Interviewer: What made you want to start MeBe as a company?
Abby: I started in this field as a special education teacher and doing one-on-one ABA sessions as a side job. Seeing my clients making progress in the one-to-one setting using the principles of ABA motivated me to pursue my BCBA. Initially, we thought I would be the only practitioner, but demand increased and my case load filled up, which is when the need for individualized ABA services became evidently clear to us. We started MeBe because we saw this need, and knew that we could provide a higher quality of service and of care, than what we had seen in the industry.
Interviewer: In your opinion, what’s been your most memorable achievement at MeBe? What are you most proud of?
Abby: For me it’s watching the growth and professional development of our team of clinicians. And not only that, but fostering a work environment that truly cares about the professional growth of our people. In our line of work, when our staff succeeds, so do our clients.
Patrick: I’m most proud of our growth in terms of services we offer. Initially we started with only ABA services, and now we offer Speech and Language Therapy as well as Occupational Therapy. It’s only been nine years but the organization feels so much more grown up regarding our offerings and business capabilities.
Interviewer: Where do you see MeBe in 5 years from now? What does the future of MeBe entail?
Patrick: As we continue to grow, making ABA, SLP, and OT services a standard in each of our locations is key in offering the most potential value for kids and families. We hope to set an example for the ABA industry at large, by capturing kids in the autism therapy process sooner with more intensive therapy earlier than the current standard.
Abby: I’m more of a “you never know what the future holds” kind-of person, so we could be totally surprised by where we are 5 years from now. More than anything, I hope we continue to reach new families who aren’t currently being served at the same quality and level of care.
Interviewer: What’s been the most challenging hurdle MeBe has endured?
Abby: The pandemic. Keeping people safe while also keeping the company lights on was very challenging.
Patrick: One of our main value propositions at MeBe is quality, and achieving quality requires a significant investment in both time and money. Being a healthcare provider with insurance contracts means we charge the same as a competitor for our services, even if our services are of higher quality. Navigating the economics of the healthcare industry as a high quality provider often feels like balancing the organization on the edge of a knife.
Interviewer: What’s your favorite thing about working at MeBe?
Abby: My favorite thing is to see someone grow their career with us. For example, I was at a MeBe Learning Center just yesterday and I met up with someone who started with us as a BT fresh out of college. She then became an RBT trainer and now, she’s received her masters degree and is a BCBA with us. Watching the professional development of our staff is really exciting to me.
Patrick: I’m always looking forward to what’s next for us. There are seemingly endless possibilities for growth and refinement, and it’s exciting to see where MeBe will take us. And, having the opportunity to choose the team of people we get to work with everyday makes our work more fun.
Interviewer: How has the company culture evolved over the last nine years?
Patrick: Nine years ago when we started this company, BT’s trained in our living room with our family dogs pressed up against them on the sofa. We knew everybody who worked for us. As we grew, we knew we had to find clinical supervisors that could maintain those unique relationships with our staff. We wanted supervisors who were willing to train people in their house if they had to. This is where the idea of a family-oriented culture stemmed from. My hope is that every employee gets a taste of that original culture as it’s morphed into what it is today.
Abby: The learning center model has helped foster individualized and unique work cultures at each of our locations. It’s been fun to see that as learning centers mature, they develop what feels like their own personalities while still embracing and upholding the mission of our company.
Patrick: We won the lottery in terms of hiring staff that truly connect with and live out our mission. We are a group of mission-driven people and that’s how our culture has been established and maintained even through growth and expansion.
Interviewer: Did you always anticipate starting a business together? Have you always had entrepreneurial spirits?
Abby: I don’t think we ever anticipated starting a business together, nor did I ever plan to start one myself. However, there were a lot of people in my family who owned their own businesses, so when it came time to decide if that was something I wanted to do, the idea never seemed too far-fetched.
Patrick: I always knew I wanted to work for myself, though starting MeBe was never something we planned to do, it just kind of happened. At the start, I was just helping Abby with business tasks, like setting up a payroll system. Slowly over the years, we both became increasingly more involved in this business, and less so in our previous full-time positions.
Interviewer: If you were to give your 9-years-ago self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Patrick: You just have to stick it out. Just keep going. The best piece of advice that I’ve ever heard was something to the effect of “Businesses die because the entrepreneur gave up, not because the business failed.” So just don’t give up.
Abby: Nothing is the end of the world. When you want something to happen so badly and you are giving it everything, it’s easy to feel like the world is crumbling when you encounter a minor setback. Take a breath, it will be okay.
Interviewer: What is MeBe’s resolution for the year ahead?
Patrick: We would like to continue to refine our business practices both internally and externally. Our people are very important to us and to our business success, so refining job positions to be more meaningful and secure is a big goal. We also want to continue to execute on our mission statement by opening more multidisciplinary learning centers that offer a variety of services. Parent feedback has told us that there is a need for autism diagnosticians, as some of our clients have experienced incredibly long wait times for their child to be diagnosed. This is a gap we are hoping to fill in a few of our locations in the upcoming year.
Abby: I agree with everything that Patrick said, we want to continue what we are doing, but do it even better. It’s important that we continue to develop talented clinicians, keep up with research in our disciplines, and bring new knowledge and skills to our clients.
Thank you to our entire MeBe Family, friends, and clients who have been a part of our journey the past nine years. The success we’ve endured would not be possible without your continued dedication and support. Cheers to 9 years, and many more to come!
Interested in signing your child up for ABA, Speech and Language, or Occupational Therapy services? MeBe offers it all. Contact us today!