As a former journalist, you must have heard the phrase “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, write”. And while this could not be farther from the truth, you chose to cross the lines to begin your own venture. What was the catalyst for this change?
Most of my career was spent in Marketing and Advertising, and yes, I admit, I also wrote for a newspaper for quite a while, but I’m now fully recovered from both. The drive to begin a venture with my wife was seeded by a wonderful experience with couples and individual therapy, along with the wish to leave my previous career and create something new, which needed to be both meaningful and helpful to myself and for others.
Most Israeli companies begin build out their operation in Israel and move to the United States only in growth phases. Your experience was different, beginning in NYC from day one. Who was your support system and what would you recommend to an Israeli entrepreneur contemplating the same move?
I am not your typical entrepreneur, mostly because I’m probably significantly older than most of them and had experience in managing people and processes prior to Talkspace. I personally think that access to talent and money is probably better when you’re based in NYC Vs. Israel. There is naturally a culture gap, but it’s not a huge learning curve and in general, Americans like and appreciate Israelis.
What would you say was the inflection point for Talkspace?
I don’t think I can point to any specific one, and there are rarely any silver bullets. In my experience, a startup is an exercise in trading money and time for quick mistakes, and progress is made over time.
What area the next Growth milestones on your roadmap?
Our goals are very simple, and are expressed by revenue growth, clinical outcomes, and user NPS.
What do you miss most in an early stage company?
Truthfully, not a thing…
Toughest choice you had to make as a CEO?
My job is making decisions, aka choices, and it’s what I do all the time so it’s not hard. The decisions involving asking people to leave are painful for me personally.
Where do you invest most of your time?
I invest most of my time in letting our team do their job without my interruption.
What characterizes your executive team?
Kindness and common sense.
How do you see your personal growth alongside the company’s?
Leading a startup is demanding and complicated, and I think it teaches me a lot every day. At the same time, I take time and effort to not only work, and spend time with things that are more important and meaningful. I don’t believe anyone reflecting on their lives in old age often wish they spent more time at work and not with their family and friends.
Best tip you got?
I got so many good ones it’s hard to tell. It’s actually easier to remember the bad ones.
Tip you wish you had gotten…
That Trump would win.
One thing people don’t know about you?
I wish that people didn’t know many more things about me.
Talkspace is a telebehavioral healthcare company. Its signature psychotherapy product connects individual users with a network of over 5,000 licensed therapists through an easy-to-use and HIPAA-compliant web and mobile platform. With Talkspace, users can send their dedicated therapists unlimited text, video, picture and audio messages from anywhere, at anytime. Therapists engage with clients daily, 5 days a week. Talkspace also provides psychiatry services, including prescription fulfillment, adolescent therapy and couples counseling. Founded by Roni Frank and Oren Frank in 2012, with the mission to make therapy available to all, and eliminate the stigma associated with mental health, Talkspace has already been used by over 1 million people.