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March 7, 2024 36 mins
Kristian Ranta, the founder of Meru Health, shares the company's journey from its inception to its current status as a leading provider of mental health solutions. Kristian reflects on the decision to pivot Meru Health from a wellness-focused to a healthcare-centered company, emphasizing the importance of overcoming fears and listening to intuition in entrepreneurial pursuits. He discusses the challenges and rewards of building a healthcare startup, highlighting the complexities of navigating regulatory frameworks and securing insurance reimbursements. Throughout the conversation, Kristian elaborates on Meru Health's unique approach to mental healthcare, which integrates therapy, coaching, and app-based interventions to offer users a holistic and personalized experience. He underscores the significance of community support in mental health treatment and explains how Meru Health's platform fosters connection among individuals facing similar challenges. Kristian also delves into the company's plans for expansion, both within the United States and globally, while addressing ongoing challenges such as securing insurance reimbursements and maintaining high standards for talent acquisition. Meru Health (https://www.meruhealth.com/) Follow Meru Health on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/meru-health/), X (https://twitter.com/meruhealth), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/meruhealth/), or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/meru_health/). Follow Kristian Ranta on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristian-ranta/). Follow thoughtbot on X (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: VICTORIA: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido, and with me today is Kristian Ranta, CEO and Founder for Meru Health, a new standard for mental health care. Kristian, thank you for joining me. KRISTIAN: Thanks, Victoria. Great to be here today. Appreciate it. VICTORIA: Wonderful. To break the ice a little bit to get us started in the conversation here, I don't know if you can hear it, but I have a slight cold and congestion going on. And since you're a healthcare startup, I thought I would ask you, what is your favorite comfort food when you're sick? KRISTIAN: I don't know whether it's a comfort food or not, but I think kind of what I always consume if I get, like, some flu symptoms or stuff like that it's ginger, honey, and then garlic. I try to combine these things, and it's semi-tasty. Like, it depends on, like, how strong you make it, but it's definitely effective. So, it's been my go-to thing when I get sick. VICTORIA: Me too. I like to try to put all those things into a soup of some kind [laughs], some chicken soup. I've learned how to make some sort of version of congee, which is, like, a rice porridge, which I love because you can kind of just sit it on the stove, and it cooks all day. And you could add in all those flavors, and it comes together really nicely. For me, I think that's really nice to think about what you like to eat when you're sick because when you're sick, it affects everything else going on in your body. So, I'm sure you have some personal experiences about how your mental health and your physical health are all interrelated. KRISTIAN: I mean, totally. Actually, like, I've been a biohacker for quite a while. So, I've been, like, just trying a bunch of things, like, on the physical health side and, like, exercise. And I'm from Finland originally, so a lot of cold exposure, sauna, swimming in the icy water, stuff like that. And then, of course, a lot of, like, different dietary tests that I've done over the years. And I think there's, yeah, I've recognized that there's a huge connection, and it's like the mind and the body are not, like, disconnected. They're in a way the same. Personally, also, like, a big piece kind of for me in this regard has been my journey of meditation. So, I started maybe, like, 10, 12 years ago, started meditating every day, and then I've done a bunch of different retreats and kind of dug deeper. Especially through meditation, I've learned very [inaudible 02:15] to experience the connectedness of my thoughts, and my emotions, and feelings, and the body. So, anyway, that's, like, one of my favorite topics, so... VICTORIA: So, it sounds like you've always had this interest in the mind-body connection and how to optimize your health. How did that lead you, or what about your background led you to found Meru Health? KRISTIAN: I'm from Finland originally. So, I moved to the States in 2018 with Meru Health with my current company. But way back, I studied computer science, did my undergraduate and graduate studies in Finland. And then I kind of, like, ended up working at a healthcare company, a startup company, whil
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