Building a company is like dating. If you try too hard to woo someone while not working on yourself, it won’t work out.

SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LAUGH: Reality TV. IF I WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND AND COULD TAKE 3 THINGS: SPF, Mustard, King size mattress. HOBBIES: Hiking.

​Kyle Robertson

Building the self up to draw others to you

BREAKING THE STIGMA. For Kyle Robertson, co-founding Cerebral, a company that provides mental health through tele-medicine, stemmed from his personal experience with mental health issues. Kyle battled depression and anxiety for many years. He struggled with the stigma of seeking help for mental health, despite both his parents being mental health clinicians. “I didn’t feel comfortable admitting to myself that I was depressed, let alone externalizing that by seeking care,” he says.

And when he did try to access care, the mental health system worked against him. He recalled having to wait over two months to get an initial visit with a psychiatrist, and then the only available hours of a therapist conflicted with his work schedule.

Later, Kyle thought about his experience and why it needed to be that laborious. “I was fortunate enough to be able to move beyond the stigma, and was inspired to help others do the same,” he says.

When he launched Cerebral in January 2020, he had plenty of anxiety and uncertainty about getting the product right. Worries about acquiring clients, cost of operations, getting the product fit right all weighed on him during his journey. “That’s inherent to building any company from scratch, though. You can’t run A/B tests unless you start with A.” One has to lean in and put something out there, rather than stay stuck at the starting line, he says.

DRAWING THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO YOU. “Who you are and what your networks are can help you in ways you don’t expect,” Kyle says.

Kyle feels he’s been lucky in that his sexual orientation was never an issue in creating Cerebral. “The world has changed a lot. Perhaps in my parents’ generation, the question of whether I would have been able to start my company as an openly gay man would be harder to answer.”

However, Kyle doesn’t find looking backward terribly useful, and is more concerned with what is possible now. Don’t worry so much about other peoples’ opinions, he notes as some of his life lessons. Focus instead on what the self can offer.

“Building a company is like dating. If you try too hard to woo someone while not working on yourself, it won’t work out,” Kyle says. By putting his mission to promote mental health at the forefront, he believes that he has attracted like-minded people.

Kyle acknowledges that he can only speak for his own journey. “I know there are people out there who feel they can’t be out and entrepreneurs at the same time. Bridging those identities takes time, and it’s important for them to have safe spaces for them to do so.”


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