"My identity is essential to my personhood; if any part of me feels hidden, I'm doing everything a disservice."

My favorite food is: Falafel My life hack is: A cold shower every morning

Alexandra Ballensweig

Bridging the gap between mental wellness and dating.

DIGGING DEEP TO UNLOCK NEW POTENTIAL. Alexandra has always been fascinated by human connection, specifically around how we navigate complicated issues and challenging conversations. "My mom is a social worker, so growing up, I was always asked a lot of questions that pointed inward." Raised in Long Island, New York, her family encouraged her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. "I was always very interested in seeing if I could make something and if anyone would buy it."

Curious to better understand the deeper layers of the human condition, Alexandra chose the broad topic of wellness for her thesis while studying for her master's in industrial design. "I started exploring things like meditation and energy healing. I had a profound experience in a Reiki session which planted the seed for me that there's more than meets the eye."

Alexandra went on to work in strategic design consulting at BCG Digital Ventures, a leading business development service. Still, the pull to discover the "unseen world" continued when a colleague invited her to join a silent Vipassana meditation retreat. A few years, and several more retreats later, she started teaching yoga and offering meditation sessions in New York. She’d also left her full time job, and started to date. "I was using the apps, and I felt like there was a massive disconnect between what I wanted to experience in terms of the process and connection, and what I was actually experiencing."

CREATING A SPACE FOR AUTHENTIC CONNECTION. This led to Alexandra creating humhum, a platform that aims to offer a more nourishing dating experience by focusing on the journey over the outcome. By taking a holistic approach to dating with an emphasis on building authentic connections, humhum offers three core experiences: guided one-on-one blind dates, group dating, and coaching. "The bigger vision is to be able to create a community and a platform where we're the bridge between mental wellness and dating. They're both thriving industries, but there's no space where they are intentionally connected."

humhum has already been hugely impactful on Alexandra's journey with her sexuality and gender identity. Shortly after launching the platform, she began a "very impactful romantic partnership" that led her to come out to her family. "Since then, I have owned my identity and choices, and it feels like a constant unfolding. I'm at the point where it is essential to my personhood, and if any part of me feels hidden, I'm doing everything a disservice."

Similarly, as a woman entrepreneur in an industry-dominated by men, Alexandra quickly learned she would have to make an active decision to avoid succumbing to her disadvantage. To combat her discomfort while fundraising for humhum, she sought reassurance and inspiration online, watching videos of women telling their successful fundraising stories. "That was when I realized, wow, they are telling a very different story. That was a huge shift for me, to feel validated in my experience and empowered me to say, " Okay, you're not horrible at this, and you need to keep going."

However, it’s Alexandra's devoted daily meditation practice that is probably her greatest asset in her entrepreneurial journey. She often reflects on the Buddhist teachings of the eight worldly winds: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disrepute. "I keep a close eye on when I see my sense of well-being or happiness being impacted by these and bring myself back in check. Sometimes you're up, and sometimes you're down, but that doesn't determine who you are and how you are in the world. How am I showing up when it's hard? Or when it's going well? What attachments am I forming? Those are the things I consider every day."

Order your own copy of the Gaingels 100, today! Our mission is to encourage greater representation and create a more diverse, equitable, and accessible venture capital ecosystem. Elevating the stories of the most inspiring amongst us is one of the ways in which we do this.

Lead Image

Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.