Today's Entrepreneur: Ed Gaussen, Co-Founder & CEO of Mantra Health

Kristin Karaoglu · February 3, 2021 · Short URL:

Build a culture of ruthless prioritization and set clear measurable objectives

Today's Entrepreneur is Ed Gaussen, Co-Founder & CEO of Mantra Health. Mantra Health is a provider of virtual mental health services for college students.

Ed Gaussen is a co-founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Mantra Health. Ed began his career at White Star Capital, an international investment firm investing in high potential technology and healthcare companies in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Ed completed his BSc at McGill University. 

He was inspired to start Mantra after watching a teenage family member struggle to find quality mental healthcare for years. At Mantra, he is responsible for forming partnerships with higher education institutes and health insurance plans across the U.S. to improve students' access to quality mental health services while concurrently increasing on-campus collaboration with counseling and health service center staff through the Mantra Collaboration Portal. 

Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?

I believe there’s no better time to start a company. Between access to capital, remote talent, and the constant reduction in cost of building software, we’re living in the golden age of entrepreneurship. The perception of failure has changed, and if successful, you’re able to positively impact millions of lives in unprecedented time frames. These macro-factors led me to make the jump, alongside the passion for the problem we’re solving.

What are your favorite startups?

Too many to name as an ex VC/startup cheerleader. If I had to pick a few: Butternut, Drop, Meero, Lokai, Freshly.

Why did you start your current company?

It stems from a personal experience like it often does. One of my siblings had to drop out of college due to mental health problems. The frictions in the care and recovery process led to my conviction that a better experience could be built when so many other young adults are going through this.

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

Definitely, the most rewarding part has been growing a team of passionate individuals who show up to work every morning, driven by our mission. You always remember the early days when you’re selling your heart out on a deck and nothing to show. And of course, all the amazing feedback we’ve been receiving from university counseling staff and students - it’s truly what drives us.

The most frustrating part, paradoxically to my answer above, is the time it can take to get there. We often glamorize entrepreneurship but it ultimately is a marathon and not a sprint - always remember that there’s better times ahead when things look down.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

Falling in love with the idea instead of the problem.

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

  • Focus: There’s only so much you can do as a founder. Build a culture of ruthless prioritization and set clear measurable objectives. 
  • DIY: Delay hiring specialists until you become one yourself. You don’t need to become the best at every trade, but make sure to clearly split functions early with your co-founder and own those functions until it no longer makes sense.
  • Don’t over listen to others: Build a close circle of mentors and advisors who have relevant operational and industry knowledge. They’ll have strong opinions and will certainly help, but ultimately you’ve got to try, fail, and learn on your own. 
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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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Co-Founder & CEO of Mantra Health