Diversity Health, Wellness & Biotech Venture

Something Ventured Part 2: School’s Out, But Better Mental Health Services For Teens Remains Top Of Mind

Photo of Alex Alvarado, Daybreak Health founder with Something Ventured logo.

Editor’s note: This profile is part of Something Ventured, an ongoing series by Crunchbase News examining diversity and access to capital in the venture-backed startup ecosystem. As part of this project, we’re following seven seed-stage entrepreneurs over the course of several months as they build their businesses. Read all of our profiles of Alex Alvarado, and what inspired him to co-found Daybreak Health herehere, here and hereand access the full project here.

American schoolchildren are in the midst of what for many is their most highly-anticipated summer break yet — after more than a year of social distancing and Zoom school, they’re finally going to Fourth of July barbecues again, spending time with friends, and traveling with family. 

But amid all that joy and excitement, it’s easy to lose sight of another health crisis that the pandemic brought to the surface: Mental health. 

For Daybreak Health co-founder and CEO Alex Alvarado, teenage mental health is always top-of-mind. His San Francisco-based startup provides personalized online mental health counseling to teens — a topic that’s close to his own heart after one of his younger brothers suffered through mental health crises while they were growing up.

The issue Daybreak seeks to tackle is large. Globally, depression is the fourth leading cause of illness and disability among adolescents aged 15-19 years, according to the World Health Organization. Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated, according to the organization.

When we last spoke with Alvarado in May, Daybreak had gone through Y Combinator’s accelerator program, closed a $1.8 million seed round led by Maven Ventures, and was growing revenue at 20-30 percent a month.

Alvarado spoke with Crunchbase News again in mid-June to update us on the company’s progress and what he’s focused on now. “It always ties back to our mission: universal access to mental health for teens,” he said.

What follows are excerpts from that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

On recent highs: We’ve more than doubled our pediatric (business). Ten new groups signed up, including UCSF Benioff. We’re more deeply embedded in school systems and districts. 

There’s lots of social anxiety funneling into deeper issues. Schools are understanding the impact that mental health can have on academics. The need is growing, but because of COVID, new funding was made available to schools and they can put this into programs. We hope to be part of that movement. 

We’ve brought on great new team members to allow us to pursue new initiatives, built deep school partnerships and had conversations with insurance companies to get our services covered. We’ve hired five new team members in the last month.

We’re thinking about the next six months as a lead-up time for Series A, so we want to make progress on these initiatives.

And recent lows: This is our first time around the block. We were so small last summer we didn’t understand the seasonal dynamics. It seems obvious, but when school’s out and it’s busy during summer, the amount of new patients slows. That seasonal slowdown in terms of growth is a low, but it’s also a learning experience and I look at it as an opportunity. 

Instead of just investing in the relationship with schools, we’re doubling down on our pediatric partnerships, which doubled, and we’ve found new ways to grow.

What’s next: We have a good amount of runway left: a year and a half. It’s not an urgent thing, but we’ve cultivated relationships and are starting to think about who could be a good candidate to lead our Series A.

Read Part 3: For Daybreak Health, A Back-To-School Season Like No Other

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