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Taking the leap to full-time entrepreneur by Cody Semrau

By Contributing Writer on July 27, 2017

Cody Semrau ’14

When I graduated from Colgate back in 2014, I thought that I was leaving the hills of Hamilton far behind me. But after spending a few years working a corporate job in D.C., I found myself feeling unfulfilled. I wanted to do something – to create something – that I was really passionate about. What started as a part time hobby has now become the center of my world, and led me back to a familiar place.

Thanks to Colgate’s TIA Entrepreneurs Fund, I was able to make the jump into entrepreneurship full-time. After quitting my day job in May, I moved to Hamilton and have spent the summer working on my venture, BetterMynd, alongside four other teams of energetic and determined Colgate entrepreneurs.

BetterMynd is an online mental health and teletherapy platform designed exclusively for college and university campuses. We bring together a wide network of licensed mental health therapists and counselors and allow students to search from and have teletherapy sessions with their counselor of choice—all from the comfort and privacy of their laptops or smartphones.

When I was a senior at Colgate, I began experiencing my own mental health issues, and I was fortunate enough to get help from Colgate’s on-campus resources. However, the experience was an uncomfortable one. I had to carefully sneak into that building everyone knew as the Counseling Center. Then I had to sit in the lobby across from other classmates that were experiencing their own mental health issues. It was an awkward experience, but one I was willing to go through in order to get the help I needed. But many college students are not, and it is the reason why over half of students with mental health issues don’t get any help at all.

At the same time, colleges across the country are experiencing a significant spike in the number of students seeking mental health counseling, with the latest studies showing a 50% year-over-year increase in demand. Although this is a great sign that more students are seeking help, it’s not so great if colleges don’t have the resources to keep pace. One out of three colleges has a waiting list for students seeking counseling and most schools cap the number of sessions a student can have at six. Still, it often takes up to two weeks for a student to get an appointment.

By bringing more counseling resources to college students, and making these resources more accessible through our online platform, BetterMynd is empowering struggling college students to get the help that they need.

As part of the Entrepreneurs Fund, BetterMynd has had the added benefit of working closely with Colgate’s Counseling Center staff and other administrators. We will launch our first pilot program with Colgate this fall semester, with the hopes of expanding to other campuses later this year.

The Entrepreneurs Fund has allowed me to take BetterMynd to the next level. The program has not only allowed me to dive into entrepreneurship full time, but it has also given me the opportunity to tap into the expertise of dozens of Colgate alums on everything from marketing and branding to finance and law. As a young entrepreneur navigating the complex and challenging startup world, this mentorship has been invaluable. Although there are too many mentors to list here, I am sincerely grateful for all of your time and advice.

Lastly, I would like to give a special thanks to Wills Hapworth and Mary Galvez for all of your hard work and support in making this summer and The Entrepreneurs Fund such an incredible experience.

Cody Semrau
Founder & CEO, BetterMynd

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