Founded in August 2020, CareBridge is a digital mental health platform geared toward alleviating the stress that comes with mental illnesses and connecting individuals with care that is catered to their needs. Undergraduate students (pictured from left to right) Antoinette "Anto" Svetic, Kelly Costello, Peyton "PJ" Leggett, Zephaniah "Zephy" Lopez and Fionnuala "Fi" Heatley were paired together at random through their New Venture Creation course at the Leeds School of Business, but plan to keep working on their business after graduation. Check out their progress:
Q: What is your startup or business idea?
Antoinette Svetic (AS): CareBridge will be providing all the mental health services consumers need in one place. We will be partnering with licensed therapists, private practices, counselors and other organizations to provide accessible, affordable, and sustainable care. The goal is to seamlessly connect mental health care professionals with those in need, and help individuals find a route to better health. CareBridge is a holistic database that matches people with the right mental wellness services. We are starting with a website then later on transitioning to an app.
Q: How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
AS: People aren't able to build sustainable relationships, and there is a huge stigma around mental health. People go to try to get help, and it is frustrating to get the help you need. It is unfair the way healthcare is structured where people can't easily access mental health resources.
Q: How did you form your team?
AS: Our team was formed through the structure of a Leeds School of Business course called New Venture Creation. After my rough pitch was chosen to be one of eight concepts to be the focus of the semester, I was paired with four other individuals at random. We have now become the tight-knit, passion-oriented team we are today.
Q: Why did you decide to compete in this year's New Venture Challenge (NVC)?
AS: Our team won our final class project and decided we wanted to take our concept further and outside of the classroom. Each and every one of us is passionate about creating equity in the mental health realm of health care. We want to eliminate the stigma surrounding getting help and we believe with our venture we can make a massive social impact.
Q: What other CU Boulder academic courses and entrepreneurial resources did you take advantage of to help you build your business?
AS: We've taken courses such as Product Strategy, Entrepreneurial Finance, and Advertising and Promotion.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in running your startup? What about notable wins or successes?
AS: The biggest challenge is figuring out next steps. You could have an amazing concept and a great pitch, but there’s many things that need to be taken care of once you’ve got that momentum. The hardest part is gathering bootstrapping funds and legality.
Q: What do you love about having your own company?
AS: It feels amazing to take what I’ve learned throughout my business career and apply it to starting our own company. It has always been my dream to be my own boss. As the founders, we get to choose how to deliver our value. We create a new way to make an impact and put our efforts towards something we believe in. What I love about having my own company is the opportunity to work towards something I am wholeheartedly passionate about.
Q: What advice would you give to other students who are interested in starting their own businesses or wanting to compete in NVC?
AS: In starting your own business, my advice is to remove yourself from your typical environment and make an effort to see needs in other environments that you may be missing. Any great idea starts with a pain point, if you take time to observe the world around you, you will discover that there are many opportunities for improvement and change.
Q: What is your plan for your startup after graduating? Do you still plan to work on it? If so, what are your goals?
AS: We do still plan to work on it after graduating. Our game plan is to gather bootstrapping funds, run alpha testing, gain early users, solidify partnerships with providers and eventually provide consumers with quality care that they deserve.