With teens returning to in-person schooling after more than a year of pandemic-related disruptions, Alex Alvarado expected heightened demand at his adolescent-focused mental telehealth startup. But nothing quite prepared him for the reality.
“The need is higher than we possibly could have imagined,” said Alvarado, CEO and co-founder of nearly 2-year-old Daybreak Health, which works with schools to provide online counseling to youth struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
Since the beginning of August, Daybreak has doubled the number of students on its platform. The San Francisco-based startup has also doubled the number of therapists it employs to around 40, most of whom work from home.
For students, a return to the classroom has provoked mixed reactions. While many, particularly the more extroverted teens, are thrilled to be back to in-person schooling, Alvarado observes, others are grappling with social anxiety after more than a year of largely online classes.
To help meet the needs of its growing user base, Daybreak instituted a number of new programs and changes to its operations in the past few months. One new item is a therapist development program in which experienced counselors mentor newcomers. Daybreak has also been recruiting more multilingual therapists, adding counselors fluent in Arabic, Portuguese and Vietnamese to complement its existing English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese offerings.
Daybreak also works with schools to identify issues broadly affecting students and to offer educational forums around those themes. In recent weeks, these efforts have included online sessions around managing social anxiety and on how parents can foster healthy use of technology. For now, the startup is still exclusively operating in California, with plans to broaden national expansion at some point down the road.
For Alvarado, managing this startup growth spurt has taken precedence over the fundraising side of the CEO job for the time being. A Y Combinator alum, Daybreak raised its seed round of $1.8 million back in February, with financing led by Maven Ventures. Alvarado said his current plan is to begin raising the Series A round early next year.
For now, Alvarado said, money isn’t a problem as the company has been cash-flow positive for the last three months. He’s also received inbound inquiries from potential investors, which could make closing a Series A easier when the time comes.