Neil Patel

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In a recent episode of The Dealmakers’ Podcast, Robert Krayn, the visionary founder behind Talkiatry, shared his inspiring journey from a middle-class upbringing in New Jersey to revolutionizing the world of behavioral healthcare. 

Despite facing numerous challenges, Krayn’s determination and innovative thinking led him to build a unique healthcare model that empowers both providers and patients. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into Krayn’s insightful podcast transcript to extract valuable lessons and insights that highlight his unwavering commitment to making a positive impact in the world of mental wellness.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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From Small Beginnings to Big Dreams

Growing up in Freehold, New Jersey, Krayn had a classic American upbringing. He hailed from a middle-class family, graduated as the first in his family from college, and valued the spirit of exploration. 

Robert often dreamed about traveling to locations in Asia and Europe and, in general, getting out there and actually accomplishing things.  

His interest in business stemmed from the desire to learn and experience new things. As he reflected on his journey, he emphasized that the opportunities available to us are limited only by the stories we choose to believe and create.

Embracing Hard Work and Overcoming Obstacles

Krayn’s path was not without obstacles and he started with his education by joining a community college. He worked tirelessly all through, juggling a full-time job while attending Rutgers University, where he moved to later. 

Lacking traditional internships, he navigated the challenge of securing job offers. Despite facing rejections and setbacks, he maintained his focus on the ultimate goal. His story serves as a reminder that success often stems from unyielding dedication and openness to unconventional pathways.

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The Journey to Discovery

Robert talks about how he was entirely unfamiliar with how investment banking worked and the different asset classes. He also had no knowledge about the various career opportunities out there and how to get into them. 

Checking message boards for information was the extent of the information Robert could get. He talks about the struggle he went through landing his first job, including the multiple interviews at Bridgewater that he didn’t clear. 

Eventually, Robert landed his first job at the Bank of New York Mellon, which required him to relocate to Pittsburgh. He later moved to New York and joined Guggenheim Partners in investment banking and finally MidOcean Partners in investment management. This job was a turning point in his career. However, his heart was not in finance, and he knew he had to look for something with more meaning.

A real breakthrough came when he got a first-hand experience of how mental health issues can affect the lives of common citizens. Robert also realized the need for trained and qualified psychiatrists and the lack of support and resources dedicated to them. 

After researching, he realized that there are just 45,000 psychiatrists in the US, and of these, 45% don’t accept health insurance. These factors place mental health care well beyond the reach of people who really need treatment. 

Entering the world of healthcare, Robert realized the significant gap in access to quality behavioral health services. He shared his frustration in trying to find accessible, affordable, and reputable mental health professionals. This experience spurred him to create a solution that enabled psychiatrists and behavioral health providers to feel supported and provide the best level of care possible.

The Power of Belief and Vision

Robert’s vision for Talkiatry was driven by his and his Co-Founder Dr. Georgia Gaveras’ unwavering belief in the value of psychiatrists and mental health providers. He saw the potential to create a supportive environment for these professionals, offering them a space to thrive. 

More importantly, he identified the stigma against mental and behavioral health issues and the reluctance of insurance companies to cover the costs of this care.

Recognizing the scarcity and importance of psychiatrists and the need to change the landscape of mental healthcare, Robert embarked on a journey that would not only challenge the status quo but also revolutionize an entire industry.

This journey led to the inception of Talkiatry, a nationwide practice with more than 300 psychiatrists, in addition to other behavioral health providers. 

Talkiatry partners with the biggest insurance companies in the country, like Optum, Cigna, BCBS, Aetna, Humana, and Medicare, to get coverage for their patients. 

The Future of Mental Healthcare

Talkiatry has successfully raised $115M in equity and paid out over $110M to their psychiatrists and behavioral health care providers in salary and benefits. The company was already working in the mental health care space before COVID spread. But the pandemic drew attention to the behavioral health care and mental well-being space.

Storytelling is everything which is something that Robert Krayn was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

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Looking ahead, Robert envisions a future where mental healthcare is seamlessly integrated with physical healthcare, eliminating the stigma and barriers surrounding it. 

He emphasizes the need for value-based care in mental health, aligning the incentives of patients, providers, and insurers toward a common goal of achieving positive patient outcomes. In the future, Robert estimates onboarding thousands of qualified physicians to help more people. 

Lessons for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Robert’s journey is a testament to the power of persistence, innovation, and the unwavering pursuit of a noble vision. 

From embracing hard work and defying conventional pathways to building a practice that redefines mental healthcare, his story provides valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Listen to the full episode for more details, including:

  • An unwavering belief in your vision can fuel your determination to overcome obstacles and setbacks.
  • Challenges are inevitable, but your approach to overcoming them shapes your success story.
  • Be open to unconventional paths and solutions that can lead to remarkable outcomes.
  • Prioritizing the well-being of providers and patients can lead to a sustainable and successful business model.
  • Building a model that aligns incentives among stakeholders creates a win-win scenario for all parties involved.
  • Maintain your focus and commitment to your vision, even in the face of doubt and noise.


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Neil Patel

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