Caroline Clark ’07
originally published April 14, 2010
Starting a business that will benefit the world is no easy task. Trying to do it while you’re studying classics at Princeton doesn’t make it any easier, but Caroline Clark ’07 is succeeding all the same. She and her Princeton classmate Jennifer King have started work on an innovative project called Cocherapy, which will offer online speech therapy for individuals who have had cochlear implants.
Cochlear implants are surgically inserted hearing aids that provide a sense of sound to people who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing. The surgical procedure is often covered by insurance, but the rehabilitative speech therapy required afterward is not. People with cochlear implants must spend a considerable amount of time, and money, working one-on-one with a speech therapist to learn to use them properly.
“Cocherapy would provide online [speech-therapy] initiatives, which no other service provides,” Caroline said. “Especially for those with low-income,” she added.
Having been fortunate enough to have undergone the surgery and to have received speech therapy, Caroline understands how important it is to bring the therapy to more people. So do the judges of Princeton’s TigerLaunch Business Competition. In February, Cocherapy tied for first place in the contest’s social-entrepreneurship category. Caroline and Jennifer took home a prize of $3,000, all of which will be invested in the business.
That investment may pale in comparison to the major resource Caroline puts in: her time. She works on the business each day and plans to do so full-time this summer. “The most important part of the project is figuring out how to develop it,” she said.
Caroline’s hope is that anyone with a cochlear implant, whether he or she was born without hearing or lost it later in life, will be able to log on to Cocherapy’s website, create a user profile and receive needed therapy. She is meeting with speech therapists and lawyers to learn how to make the project effective and safe. Each state has different medical laws, for example, and there is no single form of cochlear implant, so the website will need to be dynamic and flexible.
Despite the challenges, Caroline is certain that the results will be worth it. “I think the most important thing is to do something that will have an impact for the greater good,” she said.