Tech Tonics: Seth Feuerstein – Behavioral Health Entrepreneur Before It Was Cool

February 17th, 2020 | | 44:44
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Seth Feuerstein’s grandfather was a physician and his parents were both attorneys, so naturally his parents thought he would become…a comedian!  While that didn’t come to be, he did end up as both a doctor and a lawyer who practiced neither discipline full time.  Instead, Seth combined his skill sets to serially create new behavioral health companies that make a real difference.

Always deeply influenced by following his grandfather, an old fashioned family doctor  who went to patients’ homes on the lower east side of New York.  Seth reports remembering how important understanding the family dynamic was and how understanding each person’s personal circumstances was essential to treating them effectively.  He went to college at Cornell and followed that by enrolling in a joint medical school/law school program at NYU that was essentially a program of his own creation. In fact, being the pioneering co-creator of this joint degree program was not his first entrepreneurial experience – Seth had a custom t-shirt business and a baseball card business in his early years; the innovation gene ran deep.

As an aspiring MD psychiatrist and a JD, Seth spent his early career working at the nexus of these fields  – in forensics working for the medical examiner.  When he got his your first full time medical job, as an internal medicine doctor in New Haven, he quickly figured out that he was not meant to be a full time doctor.  He also realized he had a penchant for business that he leveraged into a Yale fellowship in new venture creation, working with the technology transfer office.  He then joined the venture world and had a lucky first win with Histometrics, his first board and formal business experience.

He was soon appointed CEO of Carigent a nano-particle delivery company, but that did not go as planned, in part due to the financial crisis and in part due to his own health crisis.  As a doctor and a lawyer, Seth was misdiagnosed, mistreated, dealt with major healthcare system hassles, and did not have training he needed to engage with his kids about his diagnosis. He realized that there was great opportunity, as well, in engaging around the behavioral health needs of those undergoing care for serious and terminal conditions.  But despite the death sentence that he had been given, Seth was eventually relieved to find that he would recover.  He and his wife, Sharon, started a non-profit, Little Wonder, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of patients suffering from cancer by providing them tickets to local concerts, family entertainment, live theater, and sporting events.

But soon Seth was back to scratching the for-profit entrepreneurial itch, starting Cobalt Therapeutics in 2009, a digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) company that was before its time.  Cobalt was acquired by Magellan Health fours later, and Seth became the company’s chief innovation officer.  He remained there until he decided it was time, again, to start something new.

Seth’s latest venture is Oui Therapeutics, a digital therapeutics company focused on treating suicidality.  That company, Oui Therapeutics, is early stage but eager to address this horrific public health challenge. According to Seth, digital therapeutics will thrive as a sector because software can bring patients and clinicians together and refocus the relationship on the right things better handled between patient and computer.  Essentially he sees software as a way to optimize the patient-clinician relationship, enabling the clinician to work at the top of their license and giving the patient the ability to engage in treatment on more flexible terms.

We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring TechTonics—Manatt Health is a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that integrates a full service law firm with a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help our clients grow and prosper.  Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.

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Posted in: Audio Podcast, Healthcare, Tech Tonics, Technology