I’m Kristian Ranta, a serial healthcare entrepreneur. I’m building Meru Health which offers online mental health services that help people improve their mental health long-term by treating depression, anxiety, and burnout. I like to say that we are setting the new standard for mental healthcare which is a totally different way of treating and preventing mental health problems and illness. As an example, we’ve incorporated a wearable biofeedback device and nutritional psychiatry as part of our offering. These are things that the traditional mental health care industry or psychiatry do not do.
I founded my first company at age 25. My mom and dad have been entrepreneurs, so the career choice was somewhat familiar for me. I studied computer science, entrepreneurship and leadership in the university so eventually I of course had to go and start my own business. I wanted – and still want – to make a positive impact in the world and I saw entrepreneurship as being the best way for doing that.
When building my first two healthcare businesses (prior to Meru Health), I learned so much about how not to build things in healthcare. I also learned so much about how not to build culture and hire people. A lot of painful but important learnings for sure. As a concrete example, I learned that starting off with making sure you are value-aligned – why you are doing what you are doing – with your co-founders and your employees is super important.
I wanted – and still want – to make a positive impact in the world and I saw entrepreneurship as being the best way for doing that.
Meru Health was a more special venture for me though. I lost my oldest brother Peter to depression/suicide back in the day and wanted to start changing the way we treat mental health conditions today.
The start of my entrepreneurial career wasn’t easy. I hope that I would have understood the importance of finding other entrepreneurs, preferably some who have already done what you are about to do in some ways, and just get to know them and regularly chat with them at the beginning of my journey. Now I feel fortunate to have had great mentors and coaches. For example, many board members in my companies have helped me tremendously. I also feel thankful for many fellow entrepreneurs who have helped me as well along the way.
Entrepreneurship is all about learning and how to learn fast all the needed relevant information. For the dreamers out there, entrepreneurship is really exciting and fun but it’s also a growth path for you as an individual. So, prepare to learn to take lessons with open arms and with a growth mindset.
For the dreamers out there, entrepreneurship is really exciting and fun but it’s also a growth path for you as an individual.
Even before the pandemic started, mental health was a hot topic. Mental health challenges affect more than 500 million people globally. However, less than 50% of those who need care receive care. Mental health is closely related to stress levels. High and frequent stress – such as living in the middle of a pandemic – causes our bodies to excrete stress hormones and go on overdrive which can lead to anxiety, burnout and depression, or even other serious mental illnesses as well.
As a founder or even as someone who works with startups, it’s important to check yourself regularly. How are you feeling? How is your work-life balance? Do you find happiness in other places than work? As a serial entrepreneur and founder, I’ve experienced a lot of stress myself. Through trial and error, I’ve found tools such as practising mindfulness and going through therapy that have supported me in my entrepreneurial journey and helped me to grow as a human being.
For me, mental health is far more than just business. My reasoning for all of this stems from the fact that I want to build positive change for others and for the world. Entrepreneurship is in my opinion the best way of actually making a big impact in the world.
I’m super grateful and excited most days when I wake up, to be able to do what I’m doing. I think it comes from the fact that I can clearly see how we are helping people with their mental health, day after day.
Learn more about Meru Health at meruhealth.com.