Tech Tonics: Jason Lehmbeck of SpecialX – Empathy as a Service

December 2nd, 2019 |
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Like many entrepreneurs, he was born with the itch. Jason Lehmbeck grew up around his father and grandfather, both entrepreneurs in their own areas of expertise– dad was a geologist who worked with the mining industry and grandpa had a butcher shop.  He knew that his destiny was to be “one of those guys who ran a business and was his own boss.”

Jason has effectively fulfilled that promise more than once.  Today, Jason is CEO of SpecialX, a company bringing life-changing information and services to kids with disabilities of all kinds and their families.

SpecialX is the perfect mix of pragmatism and compassion, reflecting Jason’s two primary personality characteristics.  But while he is up to his elbows in the healthcare system now, he was one of those tech guys before and had a long career in internet advertising before he ever gave a second thought to the healthcare world.  Jason started both successful and less successful endeavors, starting his first business while in college and capping his technology-focused career with the successful sale of his last one, DataPop, to a French company.

Now he is taking his serial entrepreneur chops and delivering on a personal promise he made to himself to leverage his business skills to do good, not just to do well.  Like many who cross over from tech to healthcare, Jason’s own family experience gave him the impetus to take action. As the parent of a child with a disability (a complex genetic disease called Fox-G1) found out the hard way how difficult it is for families to navigate the world of resources to help his child. Given the complexity, misaligned incentives and broken markets he experienced first-hand, Jason realized there was a serious opportunity to make a difference.

As he tested his theory by speaking to hundreds of families struggling with similar situations, Jason knew a market opportunity when he saw one.  Together with his business partner from DataPop, the pair is in the process of a beta launch of SpecialX, which has the mission to help parents navigate and better collaborate with in-school and beyond-school resources for their children with special needs while at the same time building a community among families to enable peer-to-peer support.   The first market is the Los Angeles area where Jason resides, but his goal is to take the initiative nationwide and to build a large and profitable business, as he has done before. Think EaaS: Empathy as a Service.

While Jason has turned his experience into an emerging company that may just change the dynamics of what it means to be a family supporting a child with disabilities, he is also a fellow podcaster, co-hosting the show “Who Lives Like This” with Elizabeth Aquino, to tell the stories of caregivers of disabled children and their families.

What a pleasure to have Jason on our show today!

We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s show—Manatt Health is a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that integrates a full service law firm with a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help our clients grow and prosper.  Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.

And remember to leave a positive review on iTunes if you enjoy the show!


Two books Jason recommends to have a better understanding about kids with disabilities and their families:  Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon and Not What I Expected by Dr. Rita Eichenstein

Who Lives Like This podcast

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Posted in: Audio Podcast, Healthcare, Tech Tonics, Technology