Mindstrong Health is tackling one of the most difficult challenges in healthcare: Severe mental illness, commonly referred to as SMI in the healthcare industry. The startup, founded in 2013 by Paul Dagum, Richard Klausner and Thomas Insel, recently brought on former Uber VP of Product Daniel Graf as CEO, and is now announcing a number of new hires to its senior product leadership team as it moves to turn into an even more compelling and user-friendly product the technology and research it has developed over the past six years.
As mentioned, Graf was Mindstrong Health‘s first high-profile hire this year, when the former Uber, Twitter and Google product leader joined in October. Graf’s turn as the company’s chief executive is his return to the operational side after spending some time away from building product as an investor. He and Mindstrong have brought in four new C-suite execs to lead the company, including a new CPO, COO and CTO, as well as a new VP of Data Science and new VP of Marketing.
The CPO role is the only one Mindstrong can’t yet disclose, but the incoming person has been a product leader at large tech companies, Graf told me in an interview. Meanwhile, the company is revealing that Brandon Trew (ex Uber, Google) will join as COO, Erik Albair (ex Google Maps, DeepMind) will join as CTO, Kane Sweeney (ex Uber, StubHub) comes in as VP of Data Science and Dena Olyaie (ex Facebook, Oscar Health) joins as VP of Marketing.
“The inflection point we’re going through now is really building out the whole foundation,” Graf told me. “If you look at our [current] app, it’s not an app, I would describe us as a consumer and from an experience point of view – it’s a science app. We basically have to build this whole foundation and platform, so for a technology person, for a product person, for a data scientist, for a marketing person, it’s kind of a dream. When you look at the planning stage, you look at the mission, with amazing investors, we don’t really have to worry about investments, and we can build this now. We can build this amazing platform and that’s why all these folks are joining.”
Mindstrong Health’s primary product is a platform that provides remote care on-demand for patients dealing with SMI. This group in particular faces challenges with current healthcare options, because they often face long wait times for appointments with qualified medical professionals, but their issues are pressing, hard to predict and often immediate in nature. Traditional care is also very expensive, and Mindstrong’s model has been shown to drive better results for patients, and to lower cost for insurance companies and other payers. Backed by ARCH Venture Partners, General Catalyst, Bezos Expeditions and more, the company has a number of ongoing trials with healthcare providers and patients, and based on the positive outcomes they’ve seen from this work, the goal now is to refine and prepare the product for commercial use.
Graf’s new leadership team also shares a lot of experience building products that benefit from optimization based on interpretation of large data sets, and that’s also not a coincidence. Part of Mindstrong’s unique approach has been developing a way to quantify SMI issues in a way that makes it possible to anticipate problems based on signals from how a user is interacting with the app, including typing speed an other cues, as compared to an established personal baseline. It’s a big data problem, but instead of solving something like routing on-demand transportation, it’s tackling the issue of delivering reliable, quality care to individuals who are most in need.