Today's entrepreneur: Mark Goldenson

Katie Gatto · January 12, 2011 · Short URL:

No. 1 mistake: Giving up too early. Perseverance is the most important trait for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs, and those who work at startups, are a special part of the workforce.

They embrace innovation and disruption. They live on the edge, and, at times, chase the latest shiny object. But their willingness to fail and try something new often enable them to make a big difference.  

The Vator community is made up of these unique people. To that end, we've changed our user profiles to allow entrepreneurs to express their interests and lessons about entrepreneurship. 

These profiles will allow us to highlight an entrepreneur every day.

Today's entrepreneur is Mark Goldenson, founder of Breakthrough, which won Vator Splash SF in September.

I am:  an Entrepreneur


Name companies you've founded or co-founded:, PlayCafe, Woosh, Stanford Squash, Stanford Bazaar

Name startups you worked for:


If you are an entrepreneur, why?

I want to invent something cool.

List your favorite startups:

OkCupid (awesomely designed site), inDinero (much needed product), Skype (not a startup anymore but hugely valuable and disruptive)

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

Most frustrating: dealing with large/slow companies, being under-funded, not having enough hours in the day!

Most rewarding: working with terrific people, knowing what you do matters, choosing your work, doing what people say can't be done.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneur's make?

Giving up too early. Perseverance is the most important trait for entrepreneurs (and a lot of other professions).

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on what you do best and hire or outsource what you don't do well.

2. Build something people want (credit: Y Combinator). Talking to customers is the best way to learn, even if you won't make exactly what they ask for.

3. Become an expert at getting top talent. It's cliche but true that people are a startup's most important asset; they can maximize the chance of finding the right market and product.

4. Sad but true: more startups die from lack of awareness than lack of a good product. You don't want to build bad product, but be prepared to market the hell out of whatever you build.

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Joined Vator on connects mental health providers with clients via video, phone, email, and chat.

Fifty eight million Americans have a mental illness and millions more struggle with stress and relationship issues. Therapy and medications work, but are stigmatizing, hard to access, costly, and inconvenient. Telemedicine has been shown to address these issues.

Clients can search for providers on a variety of criteria, be anonymous, take diagnostic tests, seek peer support in free communities, and engage in sessions via secure video, phone, email, and chat. 

Providers such as psychologists, counselors, and social workers can hold secure sessions and build an online profile with their prices, mediums, degrees, styles, specialties, and associations. Breakthrough confirms all providers are credentialed professionals.

Breakthrough can also help health plans, hospitals, schools, prisons, employee assistance programs, and veteran groups.  Breakthrough can also help clients and providers receive insurance reimbursement so that treatment is low cost or free.

A video of Breakthrough's launch at TechCrunch50 is here:





Mark Goldenson

Joined Vator on