Day57- Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

A Big F*cking Problem

Sept. 30th, 2016

Started the day by catching up on my social media posts: Medium, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Having a social media presence really does require time investment, but I’m pretty sure it’s worth it. I’m just really late to the whole social media game.

Around noon, I had a mentorship session with “Jose Lopez,” who is a visiting professor. Jose has the reputation of telling it as it is. He’s pretty critical and very straightforward. Asks hard questions. But this is good. This is what we need. To be challenged.

When I described to Jose what I was working on, he seemed interested, but doubtful. When I described FailUp as a support group for entrepreneurs, he immediately compared the idea to a club, which makes a lot of sense.

Then the tough questions: what makes this club, this community different? There are all sorts of clubs or groups out there that exist to support entrepreneurs. What makes you different? How much research have you done on your competitors? What is your unique value proposition? How do you justify charging money?

Jose finds it tough to have a support platform where you have to pay. In today’s age, there are so many other ways to receive support. Online forums. Writing. Exercise. Friends & family. To expect payment, the value needs to really be worth paying for. Jose thought this concept may be better structured as a non-profit entity, since it sounded like the primary purpose is to help people, not to make money.

Good advice. Good questions. I know that I still have a lot to figure out. Still designing what exactly this is and what it would look like, so really hard to answer his questions and concerns, which I expected entering the conversation.

During the afternoon, I did some research on entrepreneurs and mental health. Read a lot of articles that described the prevalence of mental health problems among entrepreneurs.

Interesting fact: according to a survey, 49% of entrepreneurs identify with at least one mental illness while the control group (general population) shows that 32% identify with at least one mental illness. Half of entrepreneurs have been mentally ill? Wow, that is quite a statistic.

Got me curious, did more research. Read stories. Depression. Anxiety. Mania. Suicides. This stuff is real. This stuff is serious. Got me thinking about psychology, counseling, and even graduate programs in these fields. Important & interesting topics to further explore.

At Watson, I have become more involved and interested in the mental health aspect of entrepreneurship, since I’m beginning to believe this is a much bigger and important problem than problems I have worked on solving in the past (university entrepreneurship collaboration).

Through my research, I discovered a really interesting company called 7 Cups of Tea. Basically, it’s a platform that provides online therapy & free counseling. I find this platform fascinating. It offers a lot of value. I think I could learn a lot from a platform like this. Here’s an article that describes in some detail how the company works and how its approach to mental health is truly unique.

Really interesting day. Learned a lot. So, this morning I commented that I would be more intentional about “Venture Learning,” so I’m going to include a new section at the end of each post that documents what I’m learning and how it relates to the development of the venture.

Questions

  • Are there companies that are working exclusively on solving mental health problems for entrepreneurs? Who are they? How can I learn the most from a company like 7 cups of tea and others like it?
  • How may I quantify the mental health problem? How is this problem currently being addressed?

Experiment — Mentor Meeting

  • Value proposition needs to be super clear, work in progress
  • Venture currently looks more like a non-profit than a for-profit

Experiment — Internet Research

  • Mental health in entrepreneurship is a big problem
  • Tech companies are working to solve mental health problems

Today, I’m grateful for

  • Bananas
  • Stoves
  • Journals