This health tech startup wants to relieve your social anxiety


learntolive“Two out of every five Americans faces a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety,” says health tech entrepreneur Dale Cook. “And half of those individuals will never seek treatment, for reasons ranging from cost to accessibility to stigmas.”

It should come as no surprise that a person affected by social anxiety would be reluctant or unwilling to travel to a public office for a face-to-face appointment.

Which is why the privacy and anonymity of the Internet make it an interesting medium for solving this dilemma. “It’s something that is already occurring elsewhere in the world,” he says.

Cook is the cofounder and CEO of Learn to Live, a startup that has developed an online social anxiety program based around the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He says that this form of online therapy has been delivered for more than a decade in Europe and the UK with “a tremendous amount of clinical success.”

“We’ve replicated a lot of those fundamentals and added some additional technology pieces of our own to start providing programs in the United States.”

Though the idea for this software dates back to 2007, Cook launched the company in 2012 with cofounder Dr. Russell Morfitt, who has more than 18 years of experience in the field of psychology. Morfitt’s knowledge in the industry, combined with Cook’s business savvy, has led to a business that they believe can change the game for those who suffer with undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues.

Sold on a subscription model, Learn to Live is marketed in two different ways: direct to consumer, and on a B2B basis for universities, employers and behavioral health organizations. The latter may present the greatest profit opportunities, especially in light of the changing landscape of health care, as this efficient online approach offers cost reduction and expanded reach.

It should be noted that use of this software isn’t technically (or legally) defined as medical treatment, but it can certainly help organizations bolster their wellness coverage.

While there are other virtual solutions out there for mental health — doctors are already connecting with their patients online — Cook says that Learn to Live is set apart by a multimedia-rich interface that is adaptive, personalized and highly interactive.

The company already has a head full of steam. They’ve raised about $325,000 in seed funding, mostly through family and friends, and their goal is to raise $1 million here in 2014 as they’ve reached a high-growth phase. They are a semifinalist in the LifeScience & Health IT section of the Minnesota Cup competition with five B2B contracts in place and another 15 reportedly in the pipeline.

Beyond its initial offering for mental health, Learn to Live has two more unique SaaS products in development that are expected to be ready this fall.