I can sometimes be a bit larger than life; my enthusiasm, my personality. But I just own it. I always have, I always will. Those are my selling factors, trust me.

FAVORITE AUTHOR OR BOOK:Another Country by James Baldwin. PEOPLE OFTEN DESCRIBE ME AS: Always laughing (especially at myself), compassionate, and competitive. A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Pep talks with my dad. One of the hardest times in my life: Breaking out of the box to pursue my true passion.

Kyle Pierce

Building a place to feel better without difficulty

FINDING A BETTER ROADMAP TO HEALTH. Co-Founder and COO Kyle Pierce knows that everyone who suffers from illness deserves relief. He has staked his whole career on this because the issue is close to his heart. “It’s not always easy to see how someone might be struggling from things like depression or other mental illnesses. What’s worse is that so much of their struggle stems from not having the access to treatments that can actually help,” he says. This is why he co-founded Options MD, to allow people who suffer from severe and treatment-averse mental illnesses to connect more effectively to innovative and cutting-edge treatments.

Formed with friend, Co-Founder and CEO Morgan Hewett, Options MD seeks to treat those who can’t afford treatment, or for whom traditional treatments have not worked. Before founding their company, Kyle and Morgan both had people close to them experience these struggles. Morgan’s brother and Kyle’s high school friend both suffered from severe depression, and they realized how challenging it was to access mental health resources. Tragically, Kyle’s friend took he own life, in her dorm room. Kyle shares, “I felt all this guilt and selfishness and anxiety as her friend, but still an outsider, that I didn’t understand her struggle—it was layers of struggle.”

KNOWING WHO YOU ARE AND BEING SO ON PURPOSE. Kyle grew up wanting to solve people’s problems. “I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and it fleshed out my mindset that if you’re a talented and capable person, you can do anything and solve real problems for real people.” This noble belief system led him to law school, but he would soon want for something bigger.

“I would have the same experience at every law firm I would go to: I would get hired, and I would perform at high levels in the beginning, but I would feel myself slowly lose focus because I knew my passion wasn’t really there. I hadn’t yet found that something that I could grab on to, to just dive full force into that was speaking to me,” he shares. One day, he found himself on a case having to defend a billion-dollar hospital system against a sexual assault litigation. “So, I’m now the bad guy, defending the hospital systems against the real pain that people are feeling. I’m on the opposite side of the table that I want to be on. And in that moment everything for me changed—everything became crystal clear.”

One of Kyle’s favorite parts of building Options MD is thinking critically about the diversity and inclusivity of the platform. “I am a founder of color. My dad is Black and my mom’s Puerto Rican. I’m also an LGBTQ founder, which maybe for some people is a point of struggle, but for me has always been a point of power. I would look back at where I have come from, the lineage that I’m a part of, and think about people who have paved the way and what they have gone through. I draw immense strength from that. I feel so proud to be a part of a group of people who have pushed so hard and overcome so much. Ultimately, I get to pay that strength forward in a different way for all sorts of people.”

“People can be sick and smart, or in pain and passionate, or whatever they have going on and a great problem-solver, or have a great mind, or a warm heart. That’s part of our success: leading with that in mind and seeing our community as whole, not broken. They just need services and support, because they live in a world that can make their conditions extremely difficult for them.”

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Gaingels 100 2023