Long Story Short:
- Cody Semrau, the founder of the online therapy platform created exclusively for college students, BetterMynd, is looking to make it as easy as possible for students to get the help they need.
- Per BetterMynd, 1 out of 4 college students experience a mental health issue. But less than half of students get the help they need.
- We connected with Cody to discuss why he started BetterMynd, the lessons he’s learned as a founder, why he decided to make Buffalo BetterMynd’s home base and more.
CG: Tell me about Bettermynd.
CS: BetterMynd is an online therapy platform. Created exclusively for college students. We partner with colleges to offer our network of licensed mental health counselors to students and allow them to have live video therapy sessions. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for students to register on our site and select a counselor they want to work with, so they can get help within a couple of days instead of weeks or months.
CG: Why did you start the company?
CS: BetterMynd and its mission were born from my own personal experience struggling with mental health issues. I went to Colgate University. While I was there, I reached a point where I knew if I didn’t get help, I was potentially facing dropping out of school, so I decided to go to the counseling center to get help. Walking into the counseling center was a rock and a hard place moment for me. I knew I needed help, but I also had to face the stigmas surrounding mental health, and I was afraid that other students would see me. BetterMynd was created to make it easier, more confidential and faster for students to get help because it shouldn’t take weeks or months to get the help you need.
A good idea is a small aspect of being successful. There’s a lot of great ideas out there, and many people are working on the same ideas. What matters is putting in the work and executing your plan. I think that’s what makes founders successful.
CG: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned (so far) as a founder?
CS: There are so many lessons I’ve learned as a founder. One of the biggest lessons is that every day is an opportunity to learn new things, solve new problems, and figure out how to get to the next step. It’s important to be open to continually learning and improving and realizing how much you know and that there is still a lot to learn from this experience and growing with it through each step of the journey.
CG: Is there a myth about the startup life that you found out was false once you became a founder?
CS: There are definitely a number of myths about startup life. One of the biggest misconceptions that most people who aren’t founders have is that just having a good idea is enough to be successful and make money. It’s really the exact opposite. A good idea is a small aspect of being successful. There’s a lot of great ideas out there, and many people are working on the same ideas. What matters is putting in the work and executing your plan. I think that’s what makes founders successful.
CG: What advice would you give to someone looking to start a company or join a startup?
CS: I always tell people you don’t have to quit your day job to start working at a start-up or building your own company. Dip your toe into the water and see if it’s something you want to pursue further. Before I started working on BetterMynd, I was in a corporate marketing job in DC. After a few years, I realized I wanted to do my own thing and not be a part of the corporate rat race. That was when I started building out BetterMynd. It was part-time outside of my day job. Doing that taught me a lot and made me realize that it takes time to build a startup.
CG: Why did you choose Buffalo as BetterMynd’s home base?
CS: When I quit my job in DC to focus my full attention on BetterMynd, I initially moved back home to Rochester to live rent-free with my parents, and over the past few years I’ve gotten to know and love the Western New York startup ecosystem. I chose to make Buffalo home base last year, in large part because of the entrepreneurial community here. You can see and feel its momentum. Startups want to move here, and they’re finding success. That success is trickling down and building a community of other founders and mentors who want to help other companies be successful.
My favorite thing about living in Buffalo after coming from Rochester is having professional sports teams. It’s exciting, and there’s a real sense of community and Pride that comes with it. Overall, people from Buffalo just really love Buffalo, which I think is awesome. Go Bills!
Created in collaboration with our partners at 43North, Be In Buffalo, TechBuffalo, and Aleron, the Western New York Trailblazers series celebrates and highlights innovators in the region that are blazing new trails as they work to build a better Buffalo. If you know or want to nominate a Western New York Trailblazer, reach out to us here.