Why this COO left Pinterest to capitalize on the booming wellness industry

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Today, a clean bill of health doesn’t seem to cut it. The standards for ‘healthfulness’ have expanded beyond physical well-being, to include the arenas of mindfulness, stress management, and even ‘financial health.’  Basic healthcare has been supplanted by the new standard for healthfulness in the 21st century,  qualified under the unassuming umbrella term ‘Wellness’. In 2019, wellness includes everything from beauty products to CBD and it’s having an impact across a wide range of industries. The trend is becoming widely adopted in corporate culture and benefits, as companies become aware of the pervasive effects of stress on performance. The wellness industry represents a $4.2 trillion market, and it’s expanding year by year. With such promising marketing optics, it’s not difficult to imagine why the mental health venue is an attractive arena for burgeoning entrepreneurs.

One such individual is Hanna Madrigan, COO of Wellset. Madrigan likens the website as ‘Yelp for Wellness’, where users have access to reviews and contact information of practitioners through recommendations from friends, brands, and public figures. Once users settle on a ‘wellness provider’ (practitioner or hypnotist alike), they can conveniently book appointments within the platform itself. Immediately prior to launching Wellset, Madrigan had embarked on a year-long international journey following her break from her role at Pinterest as a partner manager. Ladders caught up with Madrigan to talk wellness in the age of tech and the unlikely career transition that landed her at the helm of her digitally-driven wellness website  — from her days as Brand Ambassador at Pinterest to the launch of Wellset. 

hanna madrigan wellset
COO Hanna Madrigan; Photo: Courtesy Wellset

What was your impetus behind leaving Pinterest to embark on a year-long international journey?

You have this linear trajectory for your life. You have a plan and it’s all going well and you feel validated by society. I had this internal calling where I was always curious to explore and grow in a different way. I always knew getting ‘non-linear’ by traveling was something I’d want to explore. I started looking at other jobs but nothing felt authentic to me at that point…It felt right to explore an opportunity without beyond incited by a title or a paycheck.

Why do you think people are so hesitant to stray from the linear path? 

We get comfortable. At the end of the day, we have money to pay our rent, clothe ourselves, and relate to our community. We’ve been told our whole lives that school leads to a fulfilling job, which is incredibly validating logic. We need to realize that this is not the only option. You’re forced to really go out on your own and be really uncomfortable and not have answers to the questions that people have an answer to, such as the most basic: where do you live? We’re often controlled by comparing ourselves to our peers. It’s easy to feel compelled to check all of the boxes and feel that you’re fully on board …To have a blank space where you don’t know what’s next is scary. 

What is Wellset? How does it leverage data in the wellness space? 

Essentially is a marketplace to find, book, and recommend wellness practitioners. This includes chiropractors, to acupuncture to coaches, nutritionists and much more.  THere’s an abundance of practitioners and the demand is there as well, but it’s difficult to connect the two. I’ve always been enticed by the scalability of technology. Moving from the investing world to private equity, to go work in tech, I loved the impact you could have with that. 

I had this component in my life where I was touching things that reached millions of people, but I was always drawn to the wellness space. When I started thinking about what I wanted to do next it was always intertwined within the wellness space. However, I didn’t see the link between wellness and technology where you could take wellness and make it scalable and tangible to so many people. 

What immediate challenges did you face after returning from your year-long hiatus traveling the world? 

When I returned from my travels and started applying to jobs at companies, it felt like I was knocking on a door I had just walked out of that was no longer open. My body was urging me to do something different that was more intertwined with the intrinsic wants I had for myself and what I wanted to put out in the world. I decided, instead of applying to jobs, to meet with people I found interesting. I had over 130+ meetings, and I knew that something was unfolding. I was in LA, on meeting 32 of the week, when I met Tegan, the CEO of Wellset. I had been introduced to her by four strings of connections. Within fifteen minutes we discovered we had the same vision of connecting wellness and tech, and would be working together. 

This was your first business venture outside of the 9 to 5. What immediate challenges presented themselves to you? 

One thing I found really important in transitioning from a larger company to building one was finding who you work well with. The combination of what the team at Wellset brings to the table bodes well together. The CEO of Wellset Tegan is a serial entrepreneur and has started many business ventures before Wellset. Together, it was an amazing combination of skills that worked nicely together.

What does wellness mean to you? 

Wellness is simple. It’s our ability to be connected at all times to our physical and mental health and to understand what it’s telling us. 

What advice would you lend to others who are wellness novices? What are the first steps they can take? 

There isn’t an easy space to step into it [wellness]. That’s actually the main incentive behind Wellset — to have an easily accessible platform to target specific issues. It’s all about being authentic to what feels true to you while also offering an immediate solution.