Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! Today I’m excited to cruise around with Nathan Mallipeddi, the founder and CEO of Myspeech. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Hey, Nathan. Thanks a million for being here today. What challenge is Myspeech addressing?
Nathan: It’s my pleasure to be here, Spiffy! Did you know that there are more than 70 million people who stutter around the world?
Spiffy: No, I didn’t!
Nathan: But very few speech therapists are trained in stuttering—less than 0.1%! This gap exists for three key reasons: specialized speech therapy is difficult to find; stuttering services are expensive at $15,000 per year, with minimal insurance coverage; and fewer than 0.02% of people who stutter remain aware of specialized services by engaging in impactful peer communities.
Spiffy: Is this what motivated you to found Myspeech?
Nathan: That and the fact that my day-to-day interactions growing up were undermined by my own stutter, resulting in an inability to build meaningful friendships. I grew anxious, depressed, and silent. Over the years, I learned to embrace my stutter and devoted long hours to finding my voice. I would not be where I am today without support from speech therapists and peers; however, many who stutter lack stable support networks. I founded Myspeech to build that support system—empowering millions to reach their full potential.
Spiffy: You’re an inspiration, Nathan. Can you elaborate on the work you’re doing towards building us a more equitable world?
Nathan: Society places premium value on communication, and there are millions of people who stutter who feel that there is no place for them in the world. The Myspeech platform provides people who stutter with the tools to improve their quality of life. We match a network of patients with stuttering-focused resources, including visits with expert therapists, educational content, mobile applications to practice speaking techniques; and community resources (support groups and mentoring).
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?
Nathan: Myspeech has impacted 25,000 people who stutter in 26 countries, and we’ve demonstrated up to 90% quality of life improvements. Every person who stutters has a unique journey—there is no one solution that will work for all. Our goal is to connect people who stutter with personalized resources. We also engage in societal advocacy by partnering with prominent stuttering figures, including NBA player Michael Kidd Gilchrist, to advocate for a congressional health insurance bill on stuttering.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from failure?
Nathan: As a policy intern at the LA Department on Disability, I developed a policy proposal that was shredded by my director. At first I was disheartened, but I was persistent in asking for feedback. After spending countless hours revising the piece, I presented the proposal again. He loved it! I learned that making mistakes is not only an opportunity for improvement but also a necessary milestone on the pathway toward success. With this growth mindset, I’ve learned to actively seek out failure.
Spiffy: What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Nathan: One of my friends recently drew my attention to just how many thoughts we have every single day. I thought it would be interesting if I tried to keep an online journal of almost every thought that I have. I realized that around 50% of my thoughts were about things either not important or out of my control. It was a great lesson!
Spiffy: I must try this soon! Now, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before I let you go?
Nathan: Around the world, there are more than 70 million people who stutter and up to 790 million people with some type of communication disorder. Our goal is to scale our services to reach one million people who stutter in five years. Someday, we hope to expand our platform to serve every single speech or language impairment. Our vision is to create a world where all people have access to the tools to speak freely and reach their full potential.
Spiffy: More power to you and Myspeech, Nathan. Thanks for speaking with me today—it’s been an honor!
An MD/MBA student at Harvard and Stanford, Nathan Mallipeddi is a proud person who stutters and the founder of Myspeech. Myspeech is an international nonprofit that utilizes technology to connect people who stutter with life-changing therapy and community resources. He also serves on leadership teams for several international stuttering awareness organizations. (Nominated by Alex Parks at Harvard Innovation Labs. First published on the Ladderworks website on July 15, 2022.)© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.