- Travis Chen and Brian Femminella are the founders of the mental health app Healthy mind.
- The duo felt there was a lack of reliable mental health resources that could help people during the pandemic.
- This is part of the Insider Entrepreneur Series rising star which highlights the first entrepreneurs.
Last name: Travis Chen and Brian Femminella
Age: 22 and 21
Site: Seattle, Washington; Los Angeles, California
Business: SoundMind, a music therapy application designed for traumatized people,
, and anxiety.
Pass: The pandemic has created a mental health crisis: people have been isolated from others, while massive death tolls have been reported in the newspapers. Nurses and doctors faced an unprecedented patient spillover in hospitals, as families watched the funeral on YouTube.
Travis Chen and Brian Femminella felt there was a lack of reliable mental health technology resources that could help with such levels of stress and trauma, so they launched the SoundMind therapy app in November of this year. The app uses music, created by a team of in-house songwriters, to help reduce anxiety. It also connects users directly to helpful resources, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“It was not only essential to start a tech app, but also to start creating a community that was a lasting movement that people could inspire and hold onto, especially when times are tough,” Femminella said. to Insider.
Growth: SoundMind’s launch party at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles brought together actors like Jennings Brower, who has 3.4 million followers on TikTok, and Matthew Dennis Lewis, who starred in Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit”.
To date, SoundMind has raised six figures in pre-seed funding, but the round will officially end in December. It also has corporate partnerships with organizations such as the therapy department Okay Humans and digital business card company Popl to host mental health-related collaborations and events. Next year, SoundMind will launch a creators platform to commission artists, such as musician Nick Tangorra, who will create music specifically for the company.
Before SoundMind: Chen graduated from the University of Southern California in 2021, and Fremminella is completing his final year at the same university. Previously, both were legislative interns on Capitol Hill and for the past four years, Femminella has served in the U.S. Army Reserves. Fremminella also worked at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies as part of the artificial intelligence research and development team.
Challenges: The two founders had to face investors questioning their young age. Additionally, Femminella, who is openly gay, has learned to fully embrace her sexuality rather than hiding it from funders. Meanwhile, Chen had to convince others of the importance of taking the mental health of Asian Americans seriously.
Business advice: “You will fall, but it is How? ‘Or’ What you rise up and continue to build – with the knowledge you have learned from the mistakes of the past – that shows who you really are, ”said Femminella.
Business mentor: Femminella considers Dr. Scott B. Spencer of USC’s Thornton School of Music to be someone who helped her conduct research for the app. Chen relies on his 89-year-old grandfather, who taught him the importance of giving back.
Why is this the best time to start a business: The pandemic has helped people pursue their passions more, Chen said. “Now is a great time to do whatever you can, and end up finding what you love to do and who you love to do it with,” Chen added.
At hiring : The team currently has five full-time staff, including two from the in-house songwriting team. SoundMind plans to double the company’s workforce by the end of 2022.
On the management of burnout: Chen spends time with his family and friends and enjoys hiking. Femminella takes long breaks from social media and loves SoulCycle. “I like to parachute, don’t I?” ” he added. It’s “to really see the world and hear nothing but the air and the sound of the parachute as a way to reset my mind.”