Investing in Startup Founders’ Mental Health: Panel Talk


Feb 2nd 2023
18:30 – 21:00


Factory Berlin Görlitzer Park
5th Floor, Cinema

Mental health is everyone's business. Let's talk about the silent struggle of founders under the limelight — and how investors can help solve it.

A couple of years ago, capital was being pumped into startups at a breakneck pace and founders were pushed to ‘grow, grow, grow’... Then came the pandemic, forcing pivots and restructures… And now, economic fear looms eminently over the future.

In an uncertain world, founders can often find themselves caught between employees looking to them for security and investors counting on them to increase return. Founders are left anxious, under pressure and oftentimes, alone.

In the past, there seemed to be an unspoken “don't ask, don't tell" policy between founders and investors when it came to mental health, but recently, there are some promising examples of a new approach.

We invite top founders and investors to discuss how founders can cope with mental strains and how investors can support them in the process.

Join us in-person at Factory Berlin Görlitzer Park to discuss sustainable practices for both founders and investors to cope with the uncertainty of business venturing.

This event is hosted in collaboration with the Future of Work Circle, a sub-community of Factory Berlin.

About the Circles Program
Growing organically from our members’ desire to connect with one another, Circles are self-organized sub-communities at Factory Berlin, gathered around shared interests, industries, and projects, where members exchange ideas, inspire and support each other.

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  • 18:30 - 19:00
    Doors Open
  • 19:00 - 19:50
    Panel Discussion
  • 19:50 - 20:05
    Audience Q&A
  • 20:05 - 21:00

Pablo Escorcia is a Berlin based Founder, Biodanza teacher, Yogi, coach and consultant. 4 years ago, he co-founded Purpose and Motion, a social consultancy specialized in providing integral support to organizations who understand the importance of integrating the inner work dimensions with more traditional topics such as strategic planning, leadership and strategic communications.

With over 20 years experience as an organisational consultant, coach and trainer, Pablo has designed, facilitated, and implemented consultancy programs for more than 300 different organisations reaching over 10,000 people. As a senior consultant he has worked with a wide range of clients that include private companies, public institutions, international NGOs and educational institutions.

His life has been a journey of searching ways to integrate the practical world of business and the integral world of yoga, conscious dance and ancient wisdom. His purpose in life is to bring embodiment, inner work and mindfulness into the forefront of the priorities that organizations have right now.

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Tina Ruseva is the founder & CEO of Mentessa, the future of work platform that helps everyone in the workforce to maximize their potential at work, and the Big & Growing New Work Festival, the biggest future of work conference in the DACH region.

She is a social entrepreneur, actively engaging for diversity, empowerment, and inclusion ever since 2009, the mother of 2 girls, and the author of numerous articles and the book “Big Heart Ventures”.
As a female founder, festival host, coach, public speaker, and author, she has inspired women and young entrepreneurs in Europe for mastering technology as means for social progress and innovation. She is an active mentor for women in STEM at the TU Munich, Technovation Girls, Techstars, Project Together, and frequently organizes local round tables and events for founders. She and her different initiatives have been awarded and featured numerous times by the press (Die Zeit, Financial Times, Deutsche Welle).

In 2019 she published her first book: “Big Heart Ventures: Purpose-driven Entrepreneurship for the Next Age of Technology” with the mission to inspire young founders for integrity and social entrepreneurship as a means to help tackle global challenges like climate change or the increasing inequality and digital divide.

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Rolf Schrömgens is a serial entrepreneur. Right out of university, in 1999, he started one of the best-funded European first wave internet companies

In 2005, he started his second company, which became, within a decade, the most successful hotel search and one of the largest global consumer brands. He brought trivago public at Nasdaq in 2016 and stepped down from his operational role as CEO beginning 2020. Lately, Rolf co-founded leadership.sprouts, an organization that aims to evolve leadership into the digital age. With he started a movement to create a space for entrepreneurs and activists to evolve themselves and their organizations.

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Huria Ogbamichael is a Leadership Coach and Organizational Development Consultant and a Partner at Masawa, the first European social impact fund to exclusively invest in mental health startups.

Originally from Eritrea, East Africa, Huria migrated to Germany at the age of 4 where she was raised and completed her secondary education in Recklinghausen and her undergraduate studies in Social and Political Science at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. After graduating with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School in Medford, USA, Huria joined the United Nation’s peacekeeping effort. Her assignments took her to Sudan, Somalia, Timor-Leste, and New York.
While at the United Nations, Huria’s professional interests shifted from an external focus on conflict resolution and peace building to an internal focus on strategy and policy development and change management. As an advisor to UN executives, Huria led policy and organizational learning initiatives and supported the startup and drawdown of large-scale peace operations.
In 2017, Huria moved back to Germany and became a leadership coach and organizational development consultant. Over the past six years, Huria has supported more than 100 leaders and 25 organizations across the public and private sector, ranging from the United Nations to large corporations and early-stage tech startups.
Huria joined Masawa as a Partner in October 2021. Her role is to help Masawa nurture its investment by supporting founders navigate the complexities and dilemmas inherent in building companies from the ground up. Masawa works with founders build team cultures in which they and their teams can thrive.

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After a masters degree in corporate management and economics, Gerjet Efken worked for NGOs, a development bank and for 5 years as a product manager and UX Designer in various health and sports tech startups in Berlin (Freeletics, Gymondo, Lykon).

In 2018 Gerjet founded his own startup Skill Yoga, an AI and computer-vision based functional yoga platform. After growing it to 20 employees, more than 1mn€ revenue and raising 2mn€ in a seed round, he experienced firsthand the loneliness, isolation, stress, financial hardship, and burnout associated with building a startup. His empathy for the founder journey and his training in yoga, meditation, and startup coaching led him to found Accelerate Health with his business partner psychologist Natascha Prieß around the thesis that healthy founders equal successful founders and healthy returns.

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Uniting new work pioneers to create space for innovative solutions. The Future of Work Circle covers remote work, purpose and values, well-being, the future of leadership, personal development and beyond.

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