Mantra Health Co-Founders Take on New Leadership Roles – and Look To a Promising Future for Campus Mental Health

By Mantra Team

Posted: May 23, 2023

In preparation for the launch of Whole Campus Care, a mental health and wellness solution for higher education institutions, and in response to the company’s recent growth, Mantra Health co-founders Matt Kennedy and Ed Gaussen made the proactive decision to restructure their respective roles and responsibilities, with Matt moving from COO to CEO, and Ed moving from CEO to the newly-created role of President.

This change has been months in the making. Since raising a $22 million Series A in January 2022, Mantra has grown to over 65 full-time employees and more than 100 in-house clinical providers, and has added innovative products to its suite of campus solutions. The evolution of the company prompted a much-needed conversation, in which Matt and Ed assessed the best way to manage the company and streamline decision-making for the next stages of growth.

Both agreed that the long-term goals and changing needs of the company would best be served if they applied their leadership strengths in different ways, with Matt focusing on building an exceptional, high-performing team and rallying everyone around Mantra’s strategy, and Ed doubling down on high-leverage activities that will accelerate Mantra’s ability to achieve its mission. Both firmly believe this new combination will allow them to build a generational company.

“Since the beginning, Ed and I have worked in separate, but equally important roles, as we’ve built toward achieving our shared vision,” says Matt. “As we reach a turning point in the company’s history, we feel this change is necessary to accomplish our long-term goals for ourselves and the company. I know Ed is going to thrive in his President role – and bring much-needed attention to the campus mental health crisis across the country and at the highest levels of higher education.”

Before implementing this change, Matt and Ed worked extensively with an executive coach to better understand themselves and their capabilities. Both completed comprehensive 360 reviews, which included interviews, surveys of team members, and various screenings to uncover strengths and weaknesses, zones of genius, and areas of potential growth. 

Having worked with early stage tech companies prior to founding Mantra, Matt and Ed have a shared understanding of the ways in which technology and creative entrepreneurship can transform lives. Both recognized the vital importance of young adult mental health and the ever-evolving need for more accessible and higher quality care on campuses. In the years since the company’s founding, Matt and Ed have built a strong friendship and mutually-respectful partnership, which in turn, established a solid foundation for the company. 

Their executive coach Matt Hunter, who has worked with dozens of founders, admitted that “the two of them together, doing what they do best, is the special sauce.” He sees Matt as a tried-and-true operator and Ed as a passionate advocate and attentive listener. He believes this decision, which they made on their own volition, puts them both in the best position to lead Mantra through these next few critical years. 

The field of campus mental health is quickly evolving, with many institutions turning to external mental health partners for supplemental support, and Mantra will continue building the highest quality mental health and wellness solutions to serve students across every stage of the mental health journey. To facilitate this vision, Matt and Ed will continue to act on the company value of “listening to patients, partners, and providers” and building the necessary solutions to support students across every stage of the mental health journey, from the day they walk on campus to the day they graduate and beyond. 

"One thing I respect immensely about Matt and Ed is their lack of fear when reflecting on what's working and what's best for the company,” said Allie Schwartz, VP of People at Mantra Health. “They always come to the table with openness and make space for reflection and growth; it's something baked into Mantra's culture and it stems from their leadership. It sets them apart as leaders and first-time founders."

Matt will now be responsible for setting the strategy and vision for Mantra, and will oversee all go-to-market, product, and engineering, and central business functions, while Ed will take on an external-facing role and focus on executive relationship building with Mantra’s prospective and current customers, as well as product partners, industry leaders, and new capital partners – all who play a critical role in helping the company achieve its goals. He’s already logged serious airline miles and is looking forward to continuing his travels in support of the company’s mission.

“I’m excited to transition into this role. We have gotten this far thanks to our relentless focus on quality and listening to our partners' needs, and this evolution will further enable us to do that. I’m looking forward to spending more time connecting with executive leaders on campuses and understanding how best to integrate our new solutions to solve the youth mental health crisis,” says Ed. “And I believe Matt is well positioned to lead Mantra through this pivotal point in the company’s history and really propel us forward in his new role of CEO.” 

“We will continue to lead the team as we always have – with mutual respect, aligned on critical decisions, and with the best intentions for our customers, and all of the students who benefit from Mantra’s services,” say Ed and Matt.