Yury Yakubchyk

Yury Yakubchyk (KSAS ’13) is founder and CEO of Elemy. He has signed the Hopkins Founders’ Pledge.

In five words or less, describe Elemy.

Behavioral health marketplace, starting with pediatric autism. (OK fine, that was seven!)

Where did the idea for Elemy come from?

As a child diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder myself, I know the benefits and challenges of today’s world of pediatric behavioral therapy. I watched my parents struggle while they navigated behavioral healthcare systems across three countries and knew there had to be a better solution. That’s when I started thinking about Elemy.

How would a service like Elemy have helped you when you were young?

The current model for autism care is broken and outdated – not to mention extremely costly. An estimated 1-in-5 American children struggles with a behavioral health disorder in the U.S., yet most are not able to get the care they need.

Elemy offers a tech-enabled platform for personalized care in the child’s home, a huge step from the level of treatment I received.

Our clinicians create customized treatment plans that can be administered both online and at home, where children are more comfortable and have fewer distractions. We measure outcomes that inform the evolution of both individual treatment plans and broader clinical strategies. We match families with therapists best suited for them, and are proud to report a 13% increase in communication skills and an 85% reduction in problem behavior in the first six months.

What is ABA therapy? What makes it effective?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through positive reinforcement. Many experts consider ABA to be the gold-standard treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental conditions.

Our approach at Elemy is unique. We personalize each plan in partnership with the child’s family and use play-based therapy to promote naturally-occurring reinforcement, parent engagement and therapy progression based on the child’s developmental capabilities. By putting children at the center of their care, we’re encouraging them to be active participants, giving them the opportunity to choose the task, the order of the task and the reward from having completed the task.

How did the pandemic affect Elemy?

Throughout the course of the pandemic, doctor’s offices nationwide have had to close their doors, something that’s most impacted those requiring in-person behavioral health therapy. This isn’t an issue with Elemy. Our care model was designed to be administered both online and in-home, where children are more comfortable and have fewer distractions. So while many offices shut down, Elemy grew exponentially – operating in 14 cities and growing from eight to 1,200 employees in the last 18 months. This momentum is incredible, allowing us to bring more care to more families in more areas, in a time where children need support the most.

What was the biggest challenge in starting a company? Biggest surprise?

The biggest challenge for me in starting a company is the process of evolving the big idea – taking what existed in my head and making it a real, viable company. It takes a lot of work, resources, a few setbacks and, yes, a lot of patience.

The biggest surprise is how instrumental my college friends were to our business’ growth story. I do not think that any of us ever imagined working together, let alone building a billion-plus-dollar business along the way.

What’s one piece of advice you would give a student who is thinking about forming a startup?

Focus on action. Hypothesizing and conducting desk research will only get you so far. You need to interact with your consumers by testing concepts, products, and services in the market. And, you need to understand that the first version of any idea will most likely change as product-market fit is refined. The only way to find the right fit is to experiment with multiple ideas in a real world environment.

How has your connection to Johns Hopkins impacted your work?

The six founding team members of Elemy are all friends from my years at the university. The bonds that we formed during our collegiate years at JHU carried us through a variety of circumstances as we launched Elemy from the ground up during a global pandemic. To this day, Johns Hopkins continues to be a significant source of talent for our group.

Why did you decide to give back to Johns Hopkins?

Johns Hopkins was an instrumental part of my personal development, setting the stage for my entrepreneurial journey. First, Johns Hopkins taught me how to think with a principles-first mindset about a variety of various problem sets and challenges. One of my most significant life mentors, Steve Hanke, was particularly instrumental in my evolution while I was a student there.

Second, I have founded multiple businesses with my fellow classmates from the university.

These lasting bonds are incredibly unique, special and are a central part of my professional and personal life.

Where do you see Elemy in five years?

Today we’re building the world’s largest behavioral health marketplace starting with pediatric autism. Tomorrow and over the next few years, we hope to grow into new verticals and provide care for a variety of other health conditions, like ADHD and anxiety/depression, for children, adults and the elderly.


Click here to learn more about the Founders’ Pledge.