Solving the problem of mental health care - my Riff with MiResource CEO, Mackenzie Drazan



Highlights from this Riff:

3:57 The importance of Mental Health

5:22 Mackenzie's story

7:20 Main entry points to mental health care system

9:45 How Mackenzie came up with MiResource

14:32 How they build up their data set

21:09 Marketplace

22:51 What excites MiResource

23:39 Approach to the problems

26:19 Aspect of securing grants

27:22 Government grants

35:07 Measuring the growth

36:06 Endgame

39:24 Operating the marketplace

41:31 What’s next for MiResource

42:07 Helping commercial plans

43:37 Team front

47:45 Mackenzie’s Rose

48:28 The thorn



Riff Transcript


Angel Gambino:

Hello. Today I am really excited. I am pretty sure that that's going to come through. And I'm excited because of the Bumble IPO. But more than just another company having a successful run on the stock market, it's really about an incredible female founder journey and one of the youngest female founder CEOs to list. So, that's just put me in a great mood, and I just think it's perfect timing since we have another incredible female founder with us today at the beginning stages of the journey of a startup.


I'm also especially excited because you're going to hear a bit about mental health, and I think a lot of us I guess have had to find new ways of improving our own mental health throughout quarantine and lockdowns, the pandemic. And I think one of the silver linings over this period is that we're now giving mental health some of the attention that it deserves. Still not enough resources. There's still lots of issues and problems that we have to deal with in terms of treating mental illness and really optimizing mental health, but at least we're more focused on it globally.

So, today we have an expert here on that topic who is going to share her journey as a founder and let us know really what we can do to help improve the state of mental health. So, I'd like to welcome Mackenzie.


Mackenzie Drazan:

Angel, thanks so much for having me. It's a treat to be here.


Angel Gambino:

Absolutely. It's so good to see you. Mackenzie, I think, as I was saying, I see one of the silver linings of this pandemic is more attention to just all of the resources that are required and tools and methodologies and really just mental health as a topic on the whole. So, I think lots of different people are developing their own coping techniques, and even people who haven't struggled with mental health issues or any kind of mental illnesses themselves are now having some symptoms and some indications that they have things that need professional treatment. And certainly every family is touched by mental illness to a certain degree and in different ways.

So, I think we need more people like you, and so I would love for you to tell us really what was it about the current situation that we've got around mental health that really inspired you to take this on as your real sole purpose and sole focus. So, if you could tell us a bit about your journey in setting up MiResource, that would be great.


Mackenzie Drazan:

Absolutely. Angel, you mentioned something that I think is really important, which is that this has been an incredibly hard time for us, given the global pandemic, for everybody's mental health. So, a lot of people have been feeling depressed or anxious due to the situation that we're in, which is totally normal, because we are social beings and we're being asked to stay indoors, away from all of our loved ones and friends and family members and our support systems. I think the silver lining, like you mentioned, is that mental health has never been talked about as much as it is today. So, I think this is doing amazing things for stigma.

Mental health is so difficult to ... You can't put yourself in someone else's shoes, because you can't think like someone else or think too, "I'm going to respond and help someone based off of what I think I would want in that situation," because you're doing that with your brain, and your brain is the part that's affected. So, with the pandemic though, everybody's kind of getting a little bit of a taste of struggling with their mental health due to the situation. So, I think that's creating a lot more empathy. We're certainly talking about it a lot more. It's a fabulous time for startups and innovation within mental health care, because we've never seen so much venture funding going into mental health care. It's really in the spotlight, which is going to do wonders for the industry.

My story with mental health goes back quite a bit further than the start of the pandemic. I was introduced to mental health through my sister Shelby who struggled with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. And when Shelby was first diagnosed with depression, we were really lucky that my family was completely onboard with giving her whatever help she needed. We were so lucky that Shelby really wanted to get better. We were lucky to be in an area that had care. We were lucky that we could afford care.

But despite all of that, we were completely ping-ponged around the mental health care system. We had a really dedicated team of physical health care doctors, and when I say physical health care doctors I mean everything that isn't mental health care. And what we found was that they tried really hard, but they really struggled to connect her with care that could meet all of her needs. Ultimately we failed to find Shelby the right care, and in 2014 we lost Shelby to suicide.

After she passed away, I was just beside myself why we weren't able to find her the right care, because we were so fortunate that we had so many things that went right for us that a lot of people, whether their parents just don't believe in mental health, they don't want to get better, they resist going to treatment, or they live in an area where there just isn't care. There's so many different factors that could be hurdles, and we were so lucky in so many ways. So, if the system didn't work for us, what does that mean for everybody else?

So, I wanted to learn where we went wrong. And as I started digging and I started talking to as many people as I could get my hands on, just out of curiosity and just frustration with our inability to find her the right care, and what I learned was that there's so many different nuances in behavioral health care that don't exist within our physical health care system that really make these operate as these two different systems.

A lot of the main entry points into the mental health care system, whether that is your primary care provider, your university counseling center, you end up in the hospital and the hospital's trying to connect you to outpatient mental health care. Or maybe you do a search online and you end up on one of the major mental health nonprofits or you call your insurance company. All these entry points want to connect you to care. It's just so difficult because of all these complexities within mental health care that they can't really do that good of a job. But it's not from a lack of trying.

So, that's what I realized is that if I want to help people connect with care, I first need to create this infrastructure to empower our health care system to be able to connect people to the right care. So, that was how one morning I woke up and all of a sudden I was running a company.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah. As true entrepreneurs do. They see a problem, especially one that personally affects them, they have personal insights to, and that's it. You shift into overdrive and solution mode.

And I find it hard even to hear your story sometimes just because I want to cry, but the way that you deliver it so powerfully, I don't know how you do it. Because I've heard your story a few times now, and each time I get all teared up, because I just think of the magnitude of the issue. I know that I've heard you talk about one of the reasons that people get ping-ponged all over the place is partly because diagnosis itself is very difficult. So, depending on who you're seeing, in terms of doctors, they're coming at it from a particular angle, as you said, more the physical aspects through to different kinds of specialists.

So, please tell me a bit about, because it's such a big problem, how you came up with MiResource and focusing in on this particular solution to making a dent into this massive global problem.


Mackenzie Drazan:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think something that was really important for us is that, after Shelby passed away, I wasn't someone who was like, "I'm going to start a company around this. I'm going to fix this problem." For me, it all came out of curiosity and frustration and just being crazy curious and a little bit obsessive probably and trying to just figure out the system. And I love problems and problem-solving and puzzles.

So, mental health is so complicated that this was a very big puzzle for me. So, I was just trying to understand how all the mechanics work together. Just learning as much as I could and trying to figure out how all these different things came together is really how we started to approach solving the problem, because you had to figure out this puzzle really. And we definitely haven't figured it out yet, because it's a never-ending puzzle.

But one thing that I really wanted to make sure was how do I create a way so that someone in Shelby's position wanted to get help but couldn't, and, like you said, gets moved around the system because they're not connected to the right entry point at the right time. And some of the complications within mental health care is that oftentimes I'm not just struggling with one condition, I'm struggling with multiple conditions.

Angel Gambino:

Right.


Mackenzie Drazan:

And you can have two clinicians that receive the exact same training but specialize in different disorders. So, you can think of it ... If you're a cancer doctor, you specialize in a specific type of cancer. In mental health care, there's a wide spectrum of conditions under mental health care, and providers, as you can imagine, generally have a few conditions that they really specialize in, that are really within their wheelhouse of expertise. And it's crazy. We wouldn't expect them to be able to treat everything, be a specialist in everything, because we don't do that in any other industry. But the problem is that it's very difficult to discern what is it that they specialize in. You have to find someone that meets, whatever you're struggling with, all of those conditions.

So, what we realized is that the matching part isn't as hard if you actually have that data set and you have all that information on the mental health providers. So, when I was trying to figure out, well, how do the experts connect people to the right mental health care, what is their process like, how can I learn from them, and it turns out that university counseling centers actually have a position sometimes called a referral coordinator, and their sole job is to talk to a student and to identify what they're struggling with, and then figure out what is the best care for them based off of the correct identification of what they're struggling with, and then where is that care in the area. So, there's really those three barriers that I have to overcome for me to get connected to that right care. And you don't really see someone like this referral coordinator anywhere else within our health care system. So, I was like, "Wow, okay. I need to learn from this person."


So, what I did is I went and I called up 300 of these different counseling centers and spoke to 300 different referral coordinators, and I asked them about their process and how they go about doing those three things. And they kept coming back to me and saying, "The hardest part of this is then finding that care. Because I can pretty easily figure out what kind of care they need, but then identifying that care in the local area is really hard." And there's lots of components around that. Mental health providers aren't a part of greater health systems. They oftentimes don't have administrative support. So, it's just them, and they're having to see patients and do all of the administrative work and on top of that, this is not information that you can just scrape off of their license. Right?

So, if I were to be creating a database of knee surgeons, knee surgeons are knee surgeons, and you can tell that by looking at their schooling and their training. So, I can get that from their license and their education information. But in mental health care, if you're a clinical psychologist, that doesn't tell me what kind of conditions you treat. It just tells me that you are trained to treat a certain level of severity over other types of clinicians. But I still don't know what type of disorders that you do treat. So, it became very clear to us that this was really a data maintenance problem that we needed to solve.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah. And I would assume in terms of data maintenance, when you're dealing with sole practitioners, they're having to do it all. And as you mentioned, they don't necessarily have the administrative support or other kinds of support around them. So, I'm curious, how do you start to really reach all of them, and then are you creating those kind of profiles around those different practitioners? How are you actually aggregating the data that does exist? And are you then creating new kinds of data sets around the information that you're getting as you're expanding into the market? How is it working in terms of getting all the data that you need to be more precise for answering those questions in terms of making that connection to the right provider?


Mackenzie Drazan:

Right. When we were learning about the system and trying to solve this puzzle, we realized that this data maintenance problem ... These experts, these referral coordinators, can tell what kind of clinician they need to connect someone to, but the difficulty is really around finding that care. So, we realized we needed to build out this data set, but that basically translates into we need to build a marketplace and we need to create a way that we can solve for those matching problems by having that data set and guiding people through the process of finding care. But then you have the chicken and the egg problem which comes with building any marketplace.


Angel Gambino:

Yes.


Mackenzie Drazan:

That was something we got really lucky on, which is that we naturally went to these counseling centers first as a place to start, and that made sense to us, because we wanted to learn from the referral coordinators, these expert care connectors. And it happened to be that these referral coordinators had 20 plus year relationships oftentimes with these local mental health providers, because oftentimes these referral coordinators are mental health providers themselves, and these therapy circles, these communities, are relatively small. So, a lot of times a lot of therapists know each other.

So, what ended up happening was that, by creating this solution to solve these expert referral coordinators' problems, it created this natural, sort of perfect incentives where the referral coordinator needed the clinicians in their database. We provide the infrastructure. The referral coordinator then tells all of their local clinicians, "Hey, guys, if you want to continue to receive referrals from our university," which those providers do ... Because what's interesting is that we hear a lot that mental health providers are full and their practices are full and there aren't enough mental health providers. But a lot of times mental health providers have not much extra flexibility within their after-work hours, periods, those appointments, because of course everybody wants that, because they're at work during the day.

But students are really interesting, because they fill clinicians' day practices, because students don't have normal 9:00 to 5:00 business hours or work hours. So, they have these weird, random time slots where they can go and see a therapist in the middle of the day. So, those are really exciting patients for these local mental health providers. They of course want to be in the referral network of the university, so then they sign up on the platform.

Then the beautiful thing about that is then the university goes over once the providers have signed up and say, "Hey, all of these thousands of students, we have this really beautiful tool for us to use to easily connect with a local therapist." And that's an amazing solution for the counseling center and for students, because students historically have to go into the counseling center to talk to the referral coordinator, and it's oftentimes just this one person who had this long Excel spreadsheet, and they had to then do one-by-one connecting students to care.

But now we have a system that basically infuses that referral coordinator's knowledge into our technology and then provides a very easy solution for students who maybe they were seeing a therapist back home, and now they've gone to Duke and now they want to see a local person who treats anxiety, and they know their insurance, and they know exactly what they want. They just need to find someone locally that they can see. So, they can just go through MiResource. They don't have to go into the counseling center. They don't have to wait in the waiting line. And appointments can get backlogged up to three weeks, because you've got really this bottleneck of demand and only one person who can make these connections. So, it really freed up access to this guided process in helping you find that local mental health provider. It did this really beautiful thing by expanding that reach of the counseling center, and it solved that chicken and the egg problem.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah, that's great. Basically the referral coordinators have relationships, but a lot of those providers are backed up. And because of the kind of scheduling issues that you mentioned, the referral coordinators basically have needed other options for students and for others who need some kind of care. So, they've been relying on these Excel sheets so far based on their research. And I'm sure the referral coordinators are constantly asking for referrals as well so that they can help get care for their patients. So, you're now aggregating all of that so it basically optimizes the time of the referral coordinator to be able to at least get that matchmaking from the patient to the provider into a more efficient place within the marketplace. Yeah?


Mackenzie Drazan:

Exactly.


Angel Gambino:

And the marketplace, is it just students or is it anyone who's seeking a mental health provider? Tell me a little bit more about the marketplace itself.


Mackenzie Drazan:

Our beachhead market was really these university students, and that was intentional for us, because oftentimes severe mental illness presents itself in college. It's sort of this perfect storm of, A, it's the age when generally psychosis, bipolar turns on; and it's also because you're all of a sudden in a very stressful environment, you're away from home, you're away from your normal support system, the work is hard, it's socially hard, it's academically hard, it's a new environment. So, you've got this perfect storm of stressors. It's kind of like the ideal time for your mental health to struggle, because it is a big adjustment period.

Especially for things like bipolar and schizophrenia, it's so vital that you get help as soon as those symptoms start to come on, because the sooner you can treat those conditions, the easier it is to manage them on an ongoing basis. So, it's a really pivotal moment within somebody's life in terms of getting the help they need for their mental health care. Because you can go on to live a fabulous life by having the right tools in your toolbox to manage certain mental health conditions. So, the university population is really such a critical time period and a population that we feel very passionate about.

I think for us, particularly at MiResource, what gets us really excited is the severe mental illness population, really complex mental health care, because that's the hardest. And for us, we laugh, because people, when we started off, they were saying, "Oh, don't sell the university counseling centers. Higher education, that's the government, higher education. You couldn't choose harder sales cycles." And of course that's exactly where we started was universities, the government. We were just awarded a $1.2 million STTR phase I and II fast-track grant from the NIH. So, we clearly didn't listen to anybody there, and we're also starting with the hardest population, which is complex mental health care.

But for us, if we can solve those problems, it's much easier to do everything else. So, our approach in designing and in problem-solving has always been what is the hardest most common use case, and that's what guides our product decision-making and how we go about trying to solve this problem. Because we want to be able to help connect anybody to the right care at the right time for their unique needs, and so that means you have to think about the hard use cases.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah. That's super interesting, because from an entrepreneur standpoint we're almost always looking for the least friction, easiest path to get to our objectives. But at the same time, we're looking for the most urgent or biggest problems to solve, because if it's the most urgent or biggest problems to solve, then you really potentially have a business if you're creating a solution that really helps to address or to alleviate that big problem. So, I love that you just went head-on, directly [inaudible 00:24:48] like, "We're going for it."

And I also love that ... One of the things I've been ... I think I mentioned to you I've been hosting this daily fundraising room at Noon Pacific in Clubhouse really to help other founders throughout their journey. One of the things that we've been saying is, especially to some either particular types of startups or to female founders or founders of color or other diverse founders, look for grants that are out there, because it's a great equity-free way to raise capital, which is also attractive to investors. So, you can keep your cap table really clean but still get funding that you need to grow the problem. And oftentimes if you can get those government grants, it also means that you start building relationships that could be helpful within government on a much more strategic basis, not just the funding itself. Right?

So, how did you go about looking for grants? Did you actively go out and look for grants, or how did you go about that aspect of securing that? Because that's a decent-sized grant.


Mackenzie Drazan:

Yeah. Lots of thoughts here.


Angel Gambino:

Yes.


Mackenzie Drazan:

MiResource was actually founded in 2017. So, we have bootstrapped our way to where we are today through the last three plus years. We were really crazy scrappy. So, it was really just my co-founder and I running, building MiResource up to where we are today. So, for us, I think bootstrapping and being scrappy, and of course you can't do this with all businesses, but it really forces you to focus on what really matters, and that is super challenging for sure, because you're bombarded with all these opportunities. I think with more capital in the beginning, we know we would have gone in a million and one directions. But not having capital and really having to think about where every penny went and really focus our efforts was really, really impactful for us.

In terms of the government grant, we weren't out there looking for grants. Research has always been a critical component of the way that we think about what we're doing, because ultimately we're trying to help improve the way that people get connected to care. And I think anytime that you are working within ... In health care, I think you have a responsibility to make sure that what you're doing is really working and you're not just basing that off of your personal experience and that you are making sure that you are doing proper science to validate that what you're doing works, because I think that that's really critical. And we want to make sure that we are making an impact, and we want that impact to be measurable and that we are really actually improving patient outcomes.

So, Gabby and I, my co-founder, have been really lucky to have amazing scientific mentorship really from day one. One of our mentors, Dr. Kafui Dzirasa, who has just been such an influence on MiResource from the very beginning, he and I were having lunch, and he said, "You guys are trying to tackle this proving out what you're doing is working or trying to think of starting a research study on your own, but there's this amazing grant program through the SBIR program where you can subcontract out to a research team. So, you can bring on people who are experts, who this is what they're dedicating their life to to work with, because you have a platform that is an amazing opportunity for data collection and to do really amazing science. They have the labs and the expertise and the knowledge to really bring that to the table."

But Gabby and I were so used to being so scrappy and doing everything ourselves, we weren't even thinking about that as an option. So, then that was mulling around in our minds, and we were looking for a research partner to do that with. I think that I've been so lucky to have so many serendipitous meetings and connections. And I was sat next to somebody at a mental health dinner for this organization that just launched a local mental health clinic. He was a researcher. His name's Dr. Arno Klein, and he works for the Child Mind Institute in New York. I was talking about MiResource, and one thing led to another, and they were working on a project too with their Healthy Brains Network too and were looking for something like MiResource.


So, we were talking with the team, and at the end of the meeting, someone made a comment to somebody else on the other side of the call about the STTR program. And then one thing led to another, and fast forward another month, and the Child Mind Institute is our research partner on the grant. We got lucky. We applied to the grant, and we were awarded the grant. So, that's been an amazing opportunity to work with Dr. Klein, Satra Ghosh from MIT, the McGovern Institute, and just some really, really renowned researchers and really experts in the field to really prove that what we're doing is working.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah. I mean, you've done an incredible job at building an amazing team around you. I think those moments of serendipity ... I like that phrase "luck favors the prepared," because I used to say, "Oh, I'm just very lucky," and the word was probably fortunate rather than lucky. In that, you were doing all of the research, you were having all the right conversations.

I feel like a lot of people were worried I think during the pandemic that some of those serendipitous moments might disappear because we're more isolated and at home, but I think it's been great to see. I've had these moments of serendipity as well. You're on a group Zoom call, and you're like, "Oh, that was actually somebody I needed to connect with, and this is amazing." But I do think that when you're on your journey and you're fully committed and you're doing the work, you find that more opportunities for serendipity arise. It's great that you had that connection. Also, as you build that team, I think you'll find more serendipity, because they have a wider network, they bring other expertise.

I was thinking. Also we started off talking about the pandemic, and I was one of those people early on where a couple weeks in I was like, "I don't want to talk about the pandemic anymore. Let's talk about everything else." But that being said, I'm hoping that many companies are now realizing we need more flexibility in our schedules. It might be easier for people to get the treatment that they need during working hours. I think a lot of companies are still just like, "Okay, you're at home, but you still have your set schedule," and in some ways people are working a lot more. Right? They're doing back to back to back Zooms. And because they don't have that commute time, they're working more. But my hope is that they'll have more of that flexibility to be able to go to that appointment midday or in the afternoon and then come back and finish their workday.

But that I think potentially even increases the need for the marketplace in some ways, because then people who want treatment are actually saying, "Okay, now I can really do this," whereas before they might have felt like they couldn't take the time off or scoot out for two hours or whatever it is. So, when you're looking at building out this marketplace, in terms of your overall growth trajectory, your end game, your vision is what? And how are you measuring your success along that path? What are the key metrics when you're looking at ... As an investor, I look at what is their traction. And when I look at a company like MiResource, it's also obviously impact. And you talked a lot about that, and that's why research is so important.

So, when will you feel like, "We are really becoming successful with this company and making an impact," and what are those metrics that help you make the tough decisions along the way? Because early stage startups, you mentioned, even though you've taken it over the last couple of years and you're in a great position right now, knowing which decisions to make and which ways to go can be challenging. Knowing what's important to help the business grow can be challenging. So, how are you measuring the growth or the performance of the business, and what is that endgame for you in terms of the overall success criteria?


Mackenzie Drazan:

Yeah. Measurement is definitely so important. And I think to your point about how you're hopeful that people will be able to get help, reach out for help more, and that there will be more flexibility in people's schedules, I think when you shift your perspective over to measurement and what is actually working versus adhering to a specific process, I think when you focus more on the outcomes and the process can be more flexible, you set yourself up for success.

And that's why reaching out for help, it's a strength. It's not a weakness. It's not a sign of weakness. You're struggling, whether you want to admit it to yourself or not in that instance. Right? You can either choose to be strong and admit that to yourself and get the help you need to then set yourself up for success, or you can try and ignore it and struggle, and that just hurts you and it hurts your performance.

With MiResource, being very focused on our end goal, which is we're trying to create a world where everybody can get the help that they need and they have access to the help they need and access to effective care, there's a lot of factors that contribute to that. It's not just are there enough clinicians that treat the specific condition, but are there these components that allow me to be able to go to care, to comply with care, to afford care? So, it's a very multifaceted problem.

So, for us, in order to achieve this big vision, we have to stay hyper-focused on some very key metrics for us. What we're concerned about is it's not just connecting people to care but it's connecting people to the care that works. And in order to do that, A, we have to build out the care in our database, but it's important that it's not just we have 5,000 therapists. It's we have 5,000 therapists that we know exactly what they specialize in, we know exactly when they have availability. So, it's really the quality of that data that we have. So, making sure that the information stays up to date, we've been laser-focused on that, laser-focused on making sure that we're guiding someone through all of those sort of hoops that they have to jump through in order to identify what the right care for them is, taking that burden off the patient.

So, we track all these metrics very closely, because we really care about helping people get better, and so making sure that we're actually making effective connections is critical. That also influences the different opportunities that we go after. We get calls all the time from all kinds of different organizations, which is so exciting for me, because I want to help people. And there's all these organizations that care about mental health that want to be involved. So, I get calls from EAPs that want to do a better job of connecting employees to mental health care. I get calls from hospitals that want to do a better job of connecting people to outpatient care. I get calls from insurance companies.

Everybody is calling, wanting to do a better job of connecting people to care, and that's really exciting. And it's so tempting to be like, "Yes, I want to help everybody," but in order for us to succeed we have to stay hyper-focused and to envision our larger goal so that we can help more people. We have to be very careful about what opportunities that we do say yes to, and that comes back to really focusing, laser-focused, on what are those specific metrics that get us to that larger vision.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And, again, for a lot of entrepreneurs, there's not a lack of opportunity. Right? And knowing where to focus in order to get the business into growth and scale so then you can serve everyone potentially, but you need to grow the business to get the resources to be able to do that. So, tell us a little bit about the business model. You mentioned marketplace, but how do you operate that, and who is the ideal client or customer for you within that business model?


Mackenzie Drazan:

For us our strategy has been focused on how can we grow the network, the national network, through micro networks. So, we partner with, and in this case it's been historically counseling centers that have these very monitored referral lists, therapists that have been hand chosen. So, even though we currently have 5,000 mental health providers in our network, every single one of those providers was hand chosen and vetted and is being monitored so that we can make sure that MiResource is a safe community of fantastic providers that we have very accurate information on.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah, that's important, because it's not Yelp, is it?


Mackenzie Drazan:

Right.


Angel Gambino:

There isn't just some ...


Mackenzie Drazan:

Yeah, that's a little bit of the difficulty with mental health care. Right? I just think it's wrong that the burden is placed on us to have to navigate the sea of intensely specific and technical information. You don't have that in other areas of health care. So, you've made such a huge and brave decision to say, "Okay, I'm ready for care. I would like to make this very strong decision to go and get help," but then you have Mount Everest II to now climb, which is I have to then try and navigate all these different options, all this different information to try and find care. So, we want to remove Mount Everest II so that we can just go around that and guide you through that process so the second that you say, "Okay, I'm ready for help," your therapeutic journey has started and you're on your path to achieving your goals.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah. I've climbed Mount St. Helens, and that was high enough for me.


Mackenzie Drazan:

Amazing.


Angel Gambino:

I remember getting to the top, but I actually lost a toenail on that hike.


Mackenzie Drazan:

Oh, no.


Angel Gambino:

[inaudible 00:41:14] thinking, "This is Mount St. Helens. I can't even imagine Everest." So, tell me, what's next for MiResource? Where you guys at? What's this next year look like for you?


Mackenzie Drazan:

Absolutely. We're thrilled that we've expanded our team. We're growing pretty rapidly. We're about to launch version two of our platform which will allow us to service a lot more of these university counseling centers. So, we're really leaning into really bringing together all of these schools' referral lists so that they can lean on each other. And it's incredibly powerful, especially during the pandemic, because they can now help connect students to care in their local wherever they might be in the country, even if the school's based in let's say Virginia. Historically that school's known their local referral list.

We're also starting to move into helping commercial plans, so health insurance companies, to do a better job of keeping tabs on their provider networks and then connecting their members to in-network mental health providers. So, we're really excited about that opportunity, because I think that the pandemic has really woken up the health care industry to the importance of mental health care and really brought focus to this problem. So, we feel really fortunate to be able to provide that infrastructure to empower these companies to move forward with that and really lean into mental health care and connecting people to the right care.


Angel Gambino:

So, if we have anyone watching right now that might be an ideal customer or client profile, who would they be? Who are some of the people that you'd like to speak directly to?


Mackenzie Drazan:

We're really interested in talking to commercial health plans and helping them manage their provider networks and then provider and impactful member search to help them better connect their members to care.


Angel Gambino:

Great. And that's through a white-label solution?


Mackenzie Drazan:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Angel Gambino:

Yep. Okay. Great. Any key hires planned? What are you doing on that front? Are you guys good on the team front right now? [inaudible 00:43:35]


Mackenzie Drazan:

The team is expanding so fast. We're always looking to talk to people who are really passionate about mental health. For us, I feel so fortunate that we have such an incredible team. Everybody is very passionate about mental health care and really curious. I think that that is what's super powerful about our team is everybody is very, very excited about the work that they do and very curious to learn and to explore and to solve this problem, because it is a very complex problem. So, it takes out-of-the-box thinking and pushing the boundaries in a lot of areas and rethinking the way that problems historically have been solved, and I think that makes this such a fun problem and impactful problem at the same time.


Angel Gambino:

Yeah. You and I talked about how, especially with these sole practitioners but also across the board in terms of doctors and health care at large, that it's still in the fairly early stages of the digitization or technology transformation. So, I think what you're doing in terms of creating a technology platform to help really just scale up these kinds of solutions, because they're being done but in such a manual way, but it can also be challenging, because I know at my endocrinologist everything is still paper, and they have to refer back to these paper notes. There was this one time when they couldn't find some of the paperwork, and I'm like, "Okay, well, I keep everything right here on my phone. So, let's go through here."

So, I think what's exciting is really the whole picture when I look at you and the team and MiResource and what you're doing, because you've got this huge market, this huge problem, and lots of different potential use cases or customers on both sides of this marketplace. And then you've managed to build up a great team. So, you've got this huge market, this big, urgent problem. You've got this great team. And then you're building this core technology marketplace. Over at FJ Labs, they're specialized in marketplaces, and I'm always in awe by how well fine-tuned they are at looking at marketplace companies.

I think, because there's just so much value that can be created, and you talked about the chicken and the egg, but once you start getting those connections and building that value exchange, then it's one of those things that can grow very substantially and also present lots of different, new product ideas, new revenue streams, et cetera. So, I think you guys are in a great position, and I think it's really inspiring to just see where you've got to so far and also the vision for the future.

So, I have to ask, and this is usually one of my last questions, and I think part of the reason I ask it is just a check-in with people, but, so, your rose, your thorn, and your bud, your rose being what's just beautiful, going great, and it could be for you or for MiResource; the thorn is as it sounds, the challenge, the frustration, the struggle; and the bud is what are you excited about or hopeful about or looking forward to. So, how about right now in this moment in time?


Mackenzie Drazan:

My rose would be it's so much fun to work with a team, and all of the new people that have recently joined MiResource, it's so much fun to get to learn from them. My goal is always to be the stupidest person in the room. And this is not the right way to say that, but it's so fun to get to learn from other incredibly amazing, thoughtful, intelligent people that are really the experts within each of their domains. That's been such a treat to really have this team together to solve this problem outside of Gabby and I. So, our family's growing, and that's really exciting.

The thorn would probably be COVID. Definitely I miss hugs. I miss seeing people. I miss getting to interact with colleagues in person. So, okay, the rose, the thorn, and the bud. What is the bud again?


Angel Gambino:

What are you hopeful about or excited for, looking forward to?


Mackenzie Drazan:

Excited for?


Angel Gambino:

Yeah. [inaudible 00:48:52]


Mackenzie Drazan:

I actually, on a completely unrelated topic, just got avalanche trained for cross-country skiing this past weekend.


Angel Gambino:

Oh, no way! Did you though?


Mackenzie Drazan:

I'm excited to lean into this new sport.


Angel Gambino:

Wow! So,