First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lucia Huang: We’re fine, thank you! I’m thankful that I grew up locally (in the Bay Area), and both my brother and I have moved home temporarily. It’s the first time my whole family has lived together in a decade, so I feel very fortunate!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Osmind.
Lucia Huang: I’m co-founder and CEO of Osmind. I’ve always been passionate about mental health and have devoted my career to improving healthcare, from life sciences to new technology innovation. I previously ran business and operations at Verge Genomics, an AI-driven neuroscience biotech startup, where I helped scale the company from seed to post-Series A. Previously, I invested in innovative healthcare technology companies at Warburg Pincus. I started my career advising pharmaceutical companies in investment banking. I graduated from Yale with a B.S. in Chemistry and earned an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
At Stanford, I met my co-founder Jimmy, who is currently on leave from Stanford’s M.D. program. We met in a healthcare I.T. class and became close friends. We decided to work together after realizing our mutual passion for fixing mental health borne through our journeys and our excitement for novel treatments in mental health.
How does Osmind innovate?
Lucia Huang: Osmind is a digital health startup working to maximize innovative treatments to mental health such as FDA-approved psychedelic medicine and neuromodulation. Osmind provides an electronic health record software (EHR) for providers serving patients with treatment-resistant mental health conditions. The software helps providers with clinical care and administrative functions and is uniquely integrated with a patient engagement mobile app that helps providers remote monitor their patients. Our software and analytical insights help providers optimize care and contribute to the research of new diagnostics and therapies. We now serve over 25,000 patients in 150 mental health practices in the U.S. Osmind was founded in early 2020 and is backed by General Catalyst and Y Combinator.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Lucia Huang: It’s a horrible reality that coronavirus has actually positively impacted our business, given we serve the mental health field. COVID has had an outsized impact on mental health, from survivors of coronavirus (nearly 1 in 5 are diagnosed with a mental health issue within 3 months after they had COVID) to those who haven’t been impacted directly (the majority of Americans reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted by COVID). Now is a wake-up call that we must focus resources and attention on mental health – the providers and researchers we serve have been busier than ever.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Lucia Huang: All the time. What’s difficult about being a founder/CEO is that you need to make decisions swiftly, and there’s always imperfect information. No decision is ever made with 99% – it’s more like 60/40. There are too many lessons learned to enumerate, but around difficult choices, it’s to understand what the Minimum Viable Information is and who you can trust to fill in information gaps you may have. You’ll never hit a 99% confidence interval, and additional information has diminishing marginal utility. You have to do the best you can within given limitations. Once you’ve decided, you need to steer that course resolutely until you’re presented with information that disproves your decision. That doesn’t mean you should be biased in only seeking information that confirms your decision, though – just that you shouldn’t stress and second-guess a decision you already made.
One more lesson learned around working with people – of course, as CEO, you’re the face of the company. Your actions will have an outsized impact on people you interact with for that reason. One quote I heard from Stanford business school has stuck with me – “people aren’t going to remember what you say or even what you do, but how you made them feel.” Treat people with kindness and respect, no matter who they are.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Osmind in the future?
Lucia Huang: Co-founding a startup is extraordinarily challenging. The highs are incredibly high, and the lows are terrifying. I did not do a good job of taking care of my mental health at the beginning (ironically enough!). I realized that there is endless work to do as a founder, but you have to be selective and prioritize ruthlessly. The Pareto principle applies – 20% of what you can do will end up making 80% of the difference. Also, if you’re working endlessly, your productivity will suffer more, resulting in worse output. Once I realized these learnings, I felt much more at peace with striving for work-life balance. Now I try to proactively manage my workload and make sure my team is well, though, of course, it is a work in progress.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Lucia Huang: There are companies in other areas of healthcare that focus on both providing software to providers and extracting insights for life sciences researchers, but no one in mental health. We are moving quickly to build a network with providers serving the most severe areas of mental health, which has many nuances compared to other areas of healthcare. By capturing lots of types of information from these providers and patients, we’re creating insight assets that no one else can replicate.
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