Invest with What If VC - Mental Health
$294.8K ($5K)
Typical Investments
7
Deals Last 12 Months
121
Unique LPs have invested
Note from What If VC - Mental Health

What is What If Ventures?

What if Ventures is a syndicate investing in mental health and addiction startups led by a former addict with bipolar disorder, living in recovery, who happens to have over a decade of finance and early stage investing experience.


Our Thesis

1) Billions of people have mental health needs, and most do not get help due to stigma, cost and and lack of access.

2) Stigma reduction is driving increased demand, and new solutions into the market.

3) We invest in entrepreneurs bringing needed solutions to this market.


How Big is the Problem / Opportunity?

--> 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year

--> 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year

--> 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year

--> Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34

--> 300 million people globally suffer from depression/anxiety annually according to W.H.O.

--> Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide


How big is the mental health startup landscape? Read our overview here: Approaching 1,000 Mental Health Startups in 2020


Our Analysis on the mental health startup market in Q1 2020.- An Explosion of Funding In Mental Health Startups During Q1 2020


Why now?

Stigma, shame, fear, etc. have kept people quiet about their suffering for a long time when it comes to addiction and mental health. In recent years, celebrities, politicians, business leaders, and many others have started talking about their struggles openly. When we share openly, our shame melts away and when that happens, we overcome our struggles. The increasing amount of openness has led to mass stigma reduction and a willingness to not only talk, or seek help, but to build solutions around a very personal problem set. Founders are coming in droves to build in this space. Just ask the folks at YCombinator about their latest batch of applications.

There is no dedicated early stage capital for this space. Our passion is to build that vehicle, no matter the costs to do so, at What if Ventures.


Who is Stephen Hays? Why Him?

I've lived the problem. I know it inside and out. I've built a community of people around me who are interested in not only investing, but building businesses, and sharing their stories for the sake of helping others (check out the Stigma Podcast). This community / audience will be the source a lot of the early users of the companies we fund.More on my personal story of recovery here.


Investment History

Previously Stephen started and managed a small venture investment vehicle called Deep Space Ventures (portfolio here) which performed well. Anyone can look good on paper, I get that, but of 25 investments, I've had 5 exits, 1 failure and 19 are still operating with a 2.4x TVPI to date (3 and a half years into the life of that vehicle).


The Name: What if Ventures?

In my investing experience, I've found that the most intriguing, and inspiring conversations I have with founders revolve around the the question, "What if?" - When inspired by a founder or an idea, I often find myself wondering what if we applied the solution here, or there, or everywhere. Now I find myself wondering what if, but about solving one of the greatest problems facing humans today: mental health and addiction. What if, we actually solved these problems?


What Kinds of Things Would We Be Investing In?

Measuring and testing for mental health using technology (has never been done before) - using voice, face, blood, heart rate, and other bio-markers to measure mood and wellness

Providing affordable access to care

Using technology to leverage existing resources

Digital phenotyping

Peer to peer platforms for support and treatment

Psychedelic treatments

Telemedicine

Child specific resources

New delivery modes and platforms

Dealflow

I'm syndicating all deals unless the founder / company explicitly prohibits me from syndicating, but in that case, we probably aren't in the deal anyway.


I source deals by being the most visible, and networked investor in the mental health startup space, and through my deep network of founders, investors and clinicians that I've cultivated in recent years. You can see the debt of that network in the research I wrote recently on the size of the startup market. I'm the first person to analyze this market at this level of detail, and thus, one of the most knowledgeable on the space.

Stephen was one of the first believers in my last company when it was just two guys with an idea and a deck. From inception to exit, he was helpful when we needed it and didn't interfere when we didn't need help. I would happily work with Stephen again and recommend him to other founders.
Stephen is a VERY strong and founder-friendly investor. I highly recommend him to anyone in mental healthcare.

After meeting with hundreds of mental health companies (likely more than any other individual), he has created an unfair advantage over most investors in the space. Specifically:
1....more
Team
Stephen Hays
Angel
Over 2,500+ LPs investing in mental health startups Join us here: www.whatif.vc Living in recovery from addiction and bipolar disorder.
Graham Smith
Investor
Partner @what-if-ventures Mental Health VC: www.whatif.vc Mental Health Podcast: www.stigmapodcast.com Over 350 LPs - investing in mental health startups
Investments
Private investments may not be included yet.
All deals on AngelList default to private. Learn More »
LPs
Alexander Norman
Entrepreneur
@angellist Canada. Co-founder @techtoronto & @homesav / @mckinsey, @lehman-brothers, @simply-business , Savvio & TradeOut/ @wharton-school, @mcgill-university
Jan Sessenhausen
Technology & Software investments at TEV, previously 10+ years with HTGF, SapientNitro, Capgemini and Hewlett-Packard. IT background.
Justin Ip
Entrepreneur
Founder of Kick Health - we're combining psychology, pharmacology, and mobile technology to help people become their best versions of themselves.
Kevin Weatherman
Entrepreneur
Co-Founder & CEO @leverhealth - fmr @mopub acq. @twitter , @onesignal - NYC Angel Investor
Christian Busch
Angel
Money and Magic. CEO at German Accelerator NYC. Investor in 30+ early stage companies across marketplaces, SAAS, D2C, Proptech et al.
Allen Gannett
Angel
Founder of @trackmaven - Partner at @acceleprise-deleted
Satyam Kantamneni
Angel
Founder UXReactor • Worked at @paypal, @citrix-systems • Investor @lovely, @uxpin • Alumni @harvard-business-school, @wright-state-university
Ashok Kamal
Entrepreneur
CEO @tech-coast-angels | Angel @outsite @grovecollab etc. | Founder http://theschoolofrap.com | Aspiring surfer, Fantasy baseball aficionado, Presentist
References
Stephen was one of the first believers in my last company when it was just two guys with an idea and a deck. From inception to exit, he was helpful when we needed it and didn't interfere when we didn't need help. I would happily work with Stephen again and recommend him to other founders.
Stephen is a VERY strong and founder-friendly investor. I highly recommend him to anyone in mental healthcare.

After meeting with hundreds of mental health companies (likely more than any other individual), he has created an unfair advantage over most investors in the space. Specifically:
1....more
Stephen has been an ideal board member and investor: He combines a passionate detail oriented posture with a big picture coach. He simultaneously hold my feet to the fire while never letting me forget he is on our team at the same time. He fills in skill gaps that I don't have and is...more