Kristian Ranta, founder and CEO of Meru Health, lost his older brother to suicide in 2005 pushing Kristian to build a mental health solution that could help others dealing with the same problems his brother had. Kristian joins us this week to talk about how his brother’s personal struggle with depression and substance use was never addressed, in part, due to lack of access to quality care.
Kristian founded Meru Health in 2016 and the Company has evolved to become a tech-enabled telehealth practice that features a 12-week digital therapeutic program including therapists, psychiatrists, digital therapeutics and HRV bio feedback.
Kristian also shares with us his advice for entrepreneurs who are aspiring to build startups in the mental health space. He has published great content himself on this topic which we share below as well.
Articles written by Kristian:
Links mentioned in the show:
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
- Kritian Ranta, Founder of Meru Health talks to us about the founding story of Meru Health, a mental health startup. One of his motivations to build in the mental health space was the loss of his older brother to suicide in 2005. Lost brother 2005 oldest brother to suicide. Kristian explains that his brother struggled with substance use and depression, but never found appropriate help from a broken system. Kristian’s motivation to help people like his brother as well as his previously startup experience building medical devices and diabetes testing startups led him to the mental health space.
- He started Meru Health in 2016. The Company is a tech-enabled telehealth practice that features a 12-week digital therapeutic program including therapists, psychiatrists, digital therapeutics and HRV bio feedback. Kristian explains the business in detail, who their customers are, how they work with employers and payers, as well as how they on-board patients and he talks about the patient experience or journey.
- Kristian explains the long-term goal of Meru which is to help people get better holistically, and stay better. He shared that his data shows that 92% of his patients are improving on his platform and some are recovering fully from their behavioral health problems.
- What advice do you have for an aspiring mental health entrepreneur? Kristian wrote a really great article in Inc.com on this topic. You can find it here: Building a Mental Health Care Technology Company. We talk in detail about his top tips for founders including doing intense market research, and prioritizing company culture from day 1. We talked about when and how he learned these lessons and some of the pain he experienced in getting to these realizations.
- Where is the opportunity or white space for a founder in the mental health startup ecosystem? Kristian explains in details how he would advise a new entrepreneur in the mental health space to get started with their business. He talks about a systematic approach for identifying a problem, validating an idea, and doing early customer discovery. One of the things he talks about is how a lot of founders lean too heavily on “top down” market data (like the stuff you find on the NAMI website about the tens of millions of Americans who need help) instead of bottoms up market analysis approaches.
- In a conversation about “stigma” Kristian explains that we need to change our thinking about the topic of mental health as a society. Mental health isn’t some touchy feely, “woo woo”
thing. It is a tangible problem rooted in biology and we need to treat it the same way we would a broken bone or heart disease, with the same level of care and urgency.