Alyson Friedensohn co-founded Modern Health as a way to improve employee well-being and retention rates. Having previously worked at health tech companies, Friedensohn saw a need to dismantle the stigma associated with mental health in the working world. A graduate of Y-Combinator, the company just closed a $2.3mm seed round. Friedensohn is particularly proud of the fact that Modern Health’s team is currently all female and wants to parlay their views into services that address issues affecting women, such as postpartum depression and infertility. Prior to Modern Health, Friedensohn led Product Partner Operations at Collective Health and managed Operations at Keas (acquired by Welltok.) She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Global Sustainability and Health, Entrepreneurship, and Management from The Johns Hopkins University.
Daria: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Alyson: Before Modern Health, I led Platform Operations at Collective Health and learned how health plans are run on the employer side. Across all of Collective Health’s clients, access to mental health care was the number one issue that employers were trying to fix. I started Modern Health with neuroscientist, Erica Johnson, to make it easy for everyone to improve their mental health.
Daria: What are your business plans and challenges?
Alyson: We think the only way to win the battle against poor mental health is to drive a culture shift that helps employees improve their mental well-being the same way they can their physical well-being. So far, the results have been amazing. We’ve seen 30% engagement, which is 8-10x industry average.
Daria: What values come first in your brand?
Alyson: Empathy. Vulnerability. Determination. Inspiration.
Daria: What is hot in Health & Wellness right now and where do you see it heading?
Alyson: I'm a bit biased given we are in the mental health space, but the stats are there. Depression and suicide rates are skyrocketing. We work longer hours, have longer commutes with higher costs of living, and are constantly tethered to our phones. We’re at the highest risk for depression than ever before, regardless of age, race, or gender. Yet it’s nearly impossible for people to get proactive about their mental fitness or access care when they need it.
Related to mental health is female health and wellness broadly speaking. Fertility is certainly an area taking off as women are working later in their lives and subsequently having kids later in life as well. In order to support women in the working world, we will need solutions to support women navigating the challenges associated with starting a family later in life.
Daria: What advice would you give to someone starting a company in the wellness space?
Alyson: During YC, they teach you about what it takes to become the next billion dollar company. It comes down to two things:
1. Having an insight into how the future will be different in some big or important way
2. An opportunity to own a big part of that future
Regardless of starting a company in the wellness space or any space, I think it's important to approach any venture with that perspective. What unique insight do you have into the future that others don't know about yet? And how can you capitalize on that insight?
After that, the most important thing about starting a company is to always
talk to your users. Talk to them again. And again.
About the author:
Daria Tsvenger is a co-founder of Supergirls Club - women-focused health & wellness community. She is also a yoga teacher and the ultimate powerhouse of creativity. She can be found on instagram @dariatsvenger