Q&A With Learn To Live CEO Dale Cook

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Learn to Live was started in 2012 by Dale Cook and Dr. Russ Morfitt to offer online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy “CBT” programs for Stress, Social Anxiety, Insomnia and Depression.

Over the past five years, the company has taken off due to their entrepreneurial capacity and market timing.

Most recently, Learn To Live closed on $4.5m in new capital to “accelerate growth” as CEO Dale Cook describes below in our deep dive Q&A:

Are you having fun yet?

(Laughing) That’s a resounding yes! It’s been a tremendous amount of fun to start and grow this company. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally…but also the most rewarding. And that’s because of what we do – support people who have mental health problems. The social value we provide is incredibly gratifying.

Is the majority of your business B2B or B2C delivery?

While we do offer our services direct to consumer (B2C), the majority of it is through organizations (B2B) — health plans, employers, and higher education — who pay us to access our platform they can in turn provide to their communities. They recognize that 3 out of 4 people who won’t use traditional mental health services have a need. These people are suffering and driving costs due to short/long term disability, ER panic-attacks,  general lack of productivity while on the job – or even missing class or dropping out of college.

Our clients recognize the connection between mental health and the health of a college community, or an organization – and they understand how Learn To Live can reinforce that connection.

How do you measure it and what results are those who use Learn to Live experiencing?

We measure efficacy much in the way that a primary care physician would. For example, we look at psychometric measurements such as the PHQ-9 (for depression) which enables us to speak the same language with out clients as we examine member outcomes.

We can look at a baseline assessment, track changes, and often observe a 30-50% drop in the scores for end-users who have engaged with our programs. The degree of reduction is considered a very positive outcome.

How many B2B clients or membership reach do you have now?

We don’t share our overall customer numbers, but I can share that we now cover over 1.5m lives. We are also experiencing tremendous growth outside Minnesota, which is exciting.

Of those customers, what segment is growing the fastest?

All of our segments – higher education, health plans and employers – are growing significantly. The pain is similar across each of these groups. We have noticed that we’re a particularly strong fit for colleges and universities – in part because our online and digital first service couple with 24/7 access, resonates with the digital natives.

What kind of friction or resistance to you find out there in the market with the product?

It’s a timely question. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have suggested that educating a potential client about the effectiveness of online CBT would have been central; that’s still the case in some respects, but there’s now much greater awareness of its efficacy. So the conversation has shifted towards how Learn to Live is different from others in our space, and why we might be the best partner for them to maximize impact on their communities.

What was the purpose behind the $4.5m recent fundraise?

We see an opportunity to grow aggressively. As this space matures and becomes more fragmented, we have an opportunity to continue to show our value as a central player nationally.

What is your overall capitalization now?

Just a little over $10m equity raised to date.

Who has invested in Learn to Live?

Other than those you already have listed on our profile, we’ve added a new strategic investor that we’re excited about, but not able to share specifics yet.

Are you going to raise a larger round down the road?

That’s certainly a possibility.

How can an accredited investor or fund invest in your company?

They are welcome to reach out directly to me if there’s interest!

Who is on the board of directors?

Kyle Rolfing, Edward Bergmark (one of the founders of Optum and CEO for many years), BCBS of Minnesota and North Dakota are represented, and myself.

Is Learn to Live profitable right now?

No comment.

What does a potential exit for the company look like to you?

There’s a lot of opportunity for us to continue to grow aggressively right now and we’re not ruling anything out. Certainly, we have seen that our services are complementary to a number of industries, including health plans. But we remain very focused on our growth.

Have you had any offers so far?

…again, no comment.

How many people work for Learn to Live right now?

We’re over 20 now and will be posting new positions soon!

What keeps you up at night?

That changes over time, but right now it’s managing our rapid growth while maintaining our internal culture as a company and keeping our members’ mental health needs front and center at all times..

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