The idea behind SERA

by Jean-Félix Perreault | July 12, 2020

In 2010, I was 20 years old. At that point, it was probably one of the only things I was certain of in my life. I felt lost, I was looking for a job, I was looking for something in which I could believe and invest myself. After a nasty snowboard fall, my favorite aunt sent me to her osteopath.

Knowing my aunt and her esoteric side, I was a little skeptical. But given the great trust I placed in her (and that I still place in her), I accepted. And it was really easier to accept since she offered to pay me $ 60 out of the $ 85 required for the consultation. I went there for the first time.

We are going to put aside the crush that I had for the more human approach of the osteopath for the moment. We will rather talk about the observation that appeared to me on my first or second visit: “Wow, this service is very expensive!”. In my opinion, I could only imagine a bourgeois man in a suit and tie being able to afford this service. With hindsight, I realize that my observation was rather correct: osteopathy is a luxury medicine, for people with insurance or for people who are more than tired of suffering and not finding someone who has answers for them.

So from that point on, the idea of ​​accessibility started to take shape in my mind. I was not entirely aware of this desire to act in this direction before my third year of studies in osteopathy. But I remember having some crazy ideas. Most were almost ridiculous but also useful to the journey towards the idea that has materialized today. I was talking about price relative to salary. You make 20,000 dollars a year? $ 40 for you my friend. $ 100,000? $ 200. You didn't need market research to realize that it wouldn't be viable. Viability: this was made my secondary objective. I was looking to find ways to reduce the cost of osteopathy services without reducing the income of therapists too much.

Why? Because accessibility, we will not solve that with 2-3 osteo-hippies who charge less. Accessibility affects almost all low-income people. It is a social problem. As many osteopaths are needed to participate in this cause as are needed to treat this population.

To get to the main idea, let's say it took place in two stages. The first idea I had came after hearing about a community acupuncture clinic in the United States that offers a "Sliding-scale", a voluntary price between $ 15 and $ 35. They are called POCA and their model allows them to see several patients in an hour (5 to 6), which is impossible in osteopathy. So it was from there that I had the idea to do like them, on a scale of $ 65 to $ 100, but to reinvest anything beyond $ 65 to perform free treatments.

The second part of the idea came in the summer of 2015, when I was writing a school work that I had decided to do on the accessibility of osteopathy by the solidarity cooperative. During this period, I watched lectures from Jeremy Rifkin, a futurist who gives an optimistic vision of the future in which technology could allow us to reduce our operating costs and thus the prices of goods and services.

"EUREKA!" That I shouted in my living room, all alone, dressed slack in front of my computer. I had a vision for a website that would work under this Pay-Forward system. A site on which hundreds of therapists would be able to register and give a few days a week or a month to participate in a community model of osteopathy or other holistic approaches.

And at this point the ideas started to fit together. With a platform that allows professionals to participate in our model at their own pace, we could make all types of services accessible (SER.A!). By just osteopathy, not just alternative medicine, not even just health services. It would be all the services that could benefit from the redistribution! Hairdressing, legal services, accounting, name them all! We would do it everywhere in Quebec, then in Canada and even one day elsewhere in the world.

It was therefore from one day in July 2015 that several years of apprenticeship in entrepreneurship would begin to create a new kind of social enterprise, started with nothing but an idea.

by Jean-Félix Perreault

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