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I’m a VC, and this is how I’m investing in founders’ mental health

Brian Garrett of Crosscut believes that a holistic approach can make mental health and founder well-being table stakes for how VCs engage as investors and advisers.

I’m a VC, and this is how I’m investing in founders’ mental health
[Photo: leninscape/Pixabay]

A few months ago, I shared my story and my advice for founders on how to approach balance and seek self-care. I now want to share the specifics of Crosscut’s program on Founder Health and Wellness in order to give some insight into how this trend is taking shape.

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We’re not the first or only to make this move. Firms such as Felicis, Alpha Bridge, and now Freestyle are doing it in the Bay Area. I believe that the more we put a stake in the ground on this topic, the less stigmatized the topics of mental health and founder well-being will be in our industry. It’s a trend that’s actually good to follow, and one I know we all hope picks up steam sooner rather than later.

Commit a percentage to your portfolio

We are committing 1% of all capital invested in our portfolio toward supporting a development program for both individual founders and their growing teams. Our coaching partners are experts in the field and will be brought in to conduct discovery sessions with founders to understand their personalities, motivations, behaviors, and any potential roadblocks to personal growth, skilled leadership, and holistic well-being. The program will also feature retreats that offer a deeper experience for entrepreneurs to reflect on their pasts and self-limiting beliefs that have been proven to directly affect not just personal but also career growth and success.

Our theory is that when continuous introspection is integrated into our investment practice—not a reactionary Band-Aid or a one-off resource—we can set founders up for greater success. Putting myself and my partners through this coaching and development can help us learn to be better, more empathetic, and ready to tackle whatever comes our way with our founders, as a team.

Make more holistic investments

In seed-stage investments it’s particularly important to support and nurture all forms of advancement for founders. That’s why we plan on facilitating leadership development, cofounder coaching, management training, cofounder alignment, culture development, and organizational design as well as emotional development, mental health and stress management, mindfulness retreats, and life-balance coaching.

As a former operator, then as a founder, and now as a VC, I see the clear benefits of the resources above to my personal and professional relationships with my partners and founders. Learning to interrogate ourselves, our potentially painful past and present, can be a difficult process. But life and work don’t exist in silos. They are intertwined (with increasing complexity every day). The more we understand who we are, the more skilled we can become at making the most of the life we want to live.

Understand this is about (personal) growth

Of course, I want to see the ideas and businesses we invest in succeed, but we have come to believe that the business is more likely to soar if the person we back is also soaring. We want to see venture-sized returns in our companies and also their founders. I am excited to see how this program can impact our founders and how it will evolve as more resources and products come to market.

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This is why I’m so excited about the future of our industry, of tech in southern California, and hopefully, in our industry more broadly. Starting with Los Angeles, I want to facilitate the important conversations on these topics so that in the (hopefully near) future, mental health and founder well-being are table stakes for how we engage as investors and advisers. A future where VCs are more focused on the human element of growth, knowing it will have a direct correlation to the returns we seek. We hope to see a real shift in our industry as others follow suit.

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