In seeking to build a special facility in the hills north of Santa Barbara for those with mental health issues and addictions, Todd Dean may have caught a wave that could well become a post-coronavirus healthcare tsunami.
Dean recalls that his own personal struggles, as well as candid feedback from CEOs he coaches, spurred him to focus on creating "a world-class wellness center.", And his extensive background in venture and angel-investment funding provided him the key to proceeding to seek funders for the launch of Sanjara Wellness.
The birth of the idea for Sanjara, a name derived from Sanskrit words meaning love, forgiveness, peace, and happiness, and the launch of construction on the facility came well before the arrival of the coronavirus. But the impact and fallout from the pandemic seem likely to put Dean's project at the forefront of confronting what is coming to ail society.
Todd DeanDean, 51, created his own venture fund in 2004 and that moved him into creating the Keiretsu Forum Northwest, the Seattle chapter of the global investment and deal flow organization created in the Bay Area in 2000.
Keiretsu brought him into regular contact with accredited investors and CEOs so he left Keiretsu to focus on working with a number of entrepreneurs and helping them grow their companies.
But as a coach for a growing number of the CEOs he worked with, he says he came to realize the extent of challenges they faced.
"People I meet and work with are struggling with marriages, with their kids, with suicide, with depression, with mental health illness and it's just continued to grow through the years," Dean noted. "So that was really the genesis of wanting to create and build a center, hence, Sanjara Wellness, to solve these issues."
So the construction of Sanjara, and fund-raising that he targets at $20 million, got underway. Then came the pandemic.
Dean notes that as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic impact have negatively affected the mental health of a wide array of people, industry experts are predicting there will be a growing need for greater access to behavioral health providers.
"As one expert I read about put it, that you could attract more investors to mental health start-ups going forward," Dean said.
A couple of statistics that Dean shared were that equity funding for mental health startups reached a record high in the first quarter of 2020 and that behavioral health companies are making strategic moves to grow, such as exploring mergers and acquisitions.
"To be honest, I didn't know there would be such a correlation between COVID-19 and mental health issues, addictions, depression, suicide, and other related things," Dean said.
Sanjara will have high security for its 30 beds, with 15 men sleeping on one floor and 15 women on the other floor, he explained.
The building is finished but the interior is still being completed, but Dean said there is already a small staff in place.
"Services include technology, spiritual aspects, education with structure, and some eastern philosophies as well and we will also have amenities like massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and other spa aspects as well," he added.
Dean said costs for those who will be served there are still being worked out, but added: "we will cater to CEOs, rock stars, models, actors and actresses, and their families."
"It's a high-end facility because I want to make sure our investors get a return on their investment first," he said. "I expect our investors will be getting an ROI in years three or four," Dean said, adding that he intends to expand the concept to other cities and then other countries.