Karan Singh, Co-founder and COO of mental health startup, Ginger, joins me in this episode. Ginger is one of the early pioneers within the mental health tech space and it’s an honor to have Karan join us to talk about the founding of Ginger, the mental health startup space, and his advice to aspiring mental health startup founders.
He tells the founding story of Ginger, as well as how the business has evolved and grown into what it is today. Ginger has accomplished quite a bit in the last decade and has been named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Healthcare by Fast Company, while also being identified by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer.
He did his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley and got his MBA from MIT (Sloan School of Business). He was in the Harvard Medical School / MIT Health, Science and Technology program, but left to build Ginger.
SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
- Karan walked us through his bio/background including how he found his way into the behavioral health space. Karan’s journey into this space is a very personal one surrounding his reaction to a loved one’s attempted suicide, years ago.
- What is the founding story of Ginger and how has the business evolved?
Karan walks us through the founding story of Ginger. The business began as a tech platform that would support health systems, using smart phones to measure mental health. At that time, and even still today, qualitative assessments make up the bulk of how we measure mental wellbeing.
- What is Ginger today?
Over the years, Ginger has evolved into an on-demand mental health system. You can think of it as a virtual clinic for your mental health. Members have access to a team of coaches, therapists and psychiatrists. This multi-functional care team allows Ginger to deliver assistance to their members in under 60 seconds, any time on any day in all 50 states and in 25 countries.
Ginger has partnered with employers to provide mental health care access to half a million people to date. These employers include numerous business in many industries including tech companies, airlines, unions and more.
- How do people find Ginger? Who can use it?
Entry points onto the Ginger platform include:
b) Health plans (Optum, Aetna, Anthem, Kaiser, and others) for in-network covered care
- Karan explained that Ginger’s definition of “mental health” is far wider than what people normally think of. It’s not just psychiatry, but includes sub-clinical problems, depression, anxiety, and a number of other symptoms. For example, someone going through cancer treatment, may not have an elevated PHQ-9 score, but they likely require some additional emotional support, which is where Ginger comes in.
- What is the opportunity for Companies like Ginger in the mental health space?
Fundamentally, the mental health space is broken. There is a massive supply and demand imbalance. Demand is going up. Supply isn’t keeping up. Ginger provides a set of interventions as a ‘virtual clinic’ that consists of talking to a coach, to a therapist, to a psychiatrist, and provides access to a library of helpful content.
In the long run, Karan believes the great opportunity centers around preventative mental health. The ability to catch people early, before they have a crisis, leveraging technology, will allow Ginger to provide a higher level of care than what has traditionally been achievable, without technology.
- Where can aspiring entrepreneurs go after in the mental health space now?
Karan explains that we need as many people as we can to be getting into this space, it’s a massive opportunity. The supply and demand imbalance mean the current mental health crisis isn’t going away any time soon. We need integrated preventative approaches as well as ways to help people far earlier (before crisis occurs) in a more wholistic way.