Midwest Startup Hooky Wellness Tackles Mental Wellness with a Bit of ZenBy Mary Wang
Hooky Wellness is a mental wellness startup focused on combating the growing stress and burnout epidemic. We interviewed CEO and Founder Erayna Sargent as she prepares to launch this month.
At $3.7T, the global wellness industry has attracted many entrepreneurs and corporations alike. Innovation in this industry has created many healthy snacking brands, like Quevos, which our team featured last year, and digital fitness startups like Sweatworking, another Midwest startup. And now featuring our 3rd startup in this sector. I guess you can say we’re still bullish on wellness.
It’s hard not to be. As a digital healthcare and wellness fanatic, I may be biased, but on many days it seems like you can’t get through the day without reading an article about wearables and tech disruption in healthcare. According to the CB Insights Global Healthcare Report, digital health funding is on the rise for the second straight quarter, up 23% versus Q1 2019. Total capital invested in healthcare companies globally has risen to $26.9B, with 38 VC-backed digital health unicorns and growing. The proliferation of these startups points to a pressing need for innovation in the industry – from how we access care to how its delivered. Hooky Wellness aims to transform the therapy experience from both angles – access and delivery – all while creating a zen experience.
The therapy experience still seems very clinical. Why can’t we change that?– Founder and CEO Erayna Sargent
When Playing Hooky is a Mindset
The idea was carefully designed based on CEO and Founder Erayna Sargent’s own experiences. After experiencing burnout at work, she embarked on a journey to find a therapist to help manage the anxiety and stress she was feeling. It was then when she realized how difficult this seemingly simple task really was and how many people also experienced her struggles. Mental conditions are affecting 1 in 5 people in the US. In fact, 6.8 million American adults are untreated with generalized anxiety disorder. However, for such a common health issue, there are no perfect sources of information. With advice scattered across the internet, no trusted sources, and a very iterative and demoralizing therapist-finding experience, the self-help journey for people suffering with any form of mental illness was riddled with obstacles. Exasperated, Erayna sought to create something better.
Starting with the beginning of a consumer’s journey in searching for care, Hooky matches you with 3 therapists to conduct brief chats with so you can determine if there’s a personal connection between you and the therapist you choose. Through 200 user surveys, Erayna found that many people struggled to find therapists and maintain sessions because they didn’t feel comfortable with the therapist. By giving people more choice, she hopes to empower individuals to be confident in their therapist selection decision and feel more motivated to continue therapy. Understanding that there can be a divide between information found digitally and the physical experience of therapy, Hooky’s priority is the physical offering, but aims to bring transparency and approachability to therapy through its online resources.
Hundreds and thousands of people Google ‘how to find a therapist near me’ weekly and they’re not getting the answers they need.– Founder and CEO, Erayna Sargent
The matching component of Hooky is paired with a brick and mortar therapy delivery experience. Hooky is opening the first mental wellness spa focused on combating the rising stress and burnout epidemic. Expected to be located in Detroit, the Hooky brick and mortar location will bring a supportive customer approach and spa-like experience to therapy. The space is designed to feel like an urban retreat. After a 50-minute therapy session, members can then enjoy the Shivasana lounge to further decompress and practice meditation if desired. In addition to therapy services, Hooky plans to build a multi-purpose space to provide its members with a space to simply relax or read. It will also connect members to community events that promote wellness, such as acupuncture, sound baths.
As Erayna prepares to compete other mindfulness/meditation startups (both digital and brick and mortar), yoga studios, and other niche health and wellness facilities, she’s ready to prove the efficacy of the Hooky model. While the majority of mental wellness startups are approaching the industry from a purely digital perspective (think Calm or Headspace), the Hooky model makes a lot of sense when you consider the online/offline connection happening across other adjacent industries. For analogs, look no further than Peloton and other workout studios launching digital content while maintaining its studios and developing physical products, or Kindbody, which provides its members with digital access to resources and a community while offering fertility services in brick and mortar locations. With Hooky, Erayna aims to bring the elevated experience and community to mental health to transform the market in a similar way that Peloton has done for spinning and working out.
Take a Day off With Hooky
Hooky is launching on October 22nd. Its vibrant, welcoming website encourages people to embrace this journey and prioritize their well being by taking a ‘hooky day’.
This launch strategy plays to the company’s name – hooky – to change people’s mindsets around taking a day off to prioritize one’s personal mental health. Instead of feeling bad about taking a break, people should adopt the Hooky mindset that unapologetically prioritizes the things that strengthens our mental health, whether it’s rest, building connections, therapy, or something else. We encourage you to check out the campaign and join the hooky mindset to see what it’s all about.