Last week What If Ventures celebrated the IPO of portfolio company, atai Life Sciences which went public on the Nasdaq and quickly traded up to a nearly $3 billion valuation on its first day (CNBC article on IPO here).

The Company, is biopharmaceutical drug development company that leverages a decentralized platform approach to incubate and accelerate the development of highly effective mental health treatments that address the unmet needs of people like me who have suffered from things like addiction and bipolar disorder among other indications.

The primary reason I started investing in this space was because of my own…


It’s ok to have bad days, weeks, or months while living in recovery from addiction or living with a mental illness.

However, I feel like I usually write about the successes we’ve had at What If Ventures and I don’t write as much about the bad things. The last few weeks have been hard, so today, I’m writing about the bad times and my poor reactions to recent failures. It is ok to admit that things are hard sometimes when you’re living in recovery.

There are two primary reasons why I write about my experiences. One is to normalize the…


During the last week of December 2020, I surveyed 150 mental health startup investors. I asked for their opinions on various issues, such as the latest investment trends in the industry as well as valuation expectations.

I’ve summarized the results below and presented the data as objectively as I can. My goal here is to share insights that founders and investors can leverage as they move into a new year of building, investing in and supporting entrepreneurs who are solving one of the greatest problems of our time around mental health and emotional wellbeing. Below you will find a few…


I’m just going to be really honest with you here. Getting sober, and overcoming a mental illness has been hard. But, what’s harder, is when some MBA student from Duke harasses you, stalks, you, threatens you and disparages you on a regular basis to your business associates and you can’t do anything about it.

I’m not saying I’m perfect, and in the past, I’ve engaged in some of the same behavior. I can promise you there are people I’ve come across in the past who would love to tell you how I’ve been aggressive toward them or made mistakes very…


In 2018, I almost lost my life to addiction and untreated bipolar disorder.

In 2019, I tried to raise a seed fund to invest in mental health startups. Investors laughed at me and told me they would never give money to someone who, at that time, only had a few months of sobriety. So, I launched What If Ventures as a syndicate.

In January 2020, we invested in our first mental health startup (Foresight Mental Health) with 15 investors in our syndicate. As we near the end of 2020, we have invested in eight mental health startups, deploying a total…


After nearly two decades struggling with addiction and untreated bipolar disorder, I almost lost my life to these diseases in 2018. After going to rehab, I wanted to be a part of creating solutions for people like me. I launched What If Ventures as a syndicate, to fund mental health startups, in January 2020. Since then, we have funded 8 mental health startups with a total of $4.5mm invested.

After looking at over 1,000 mental health startups, I noticed a few trends. Many of the entrepreneurs approaching this space are often new to building a business, or they are new…


Tonight we are hosting the first of what we plan to make into a series of digital “Open Mic” events featuring mental health startup founders. The goal is to give these founders exposure to potential partners, users, friends and allies while leveraging our platform and exposure (Stigma Podcast and What If Ventures). Here’s the link to the stream.

Twitch Pitch is a “demo day” of sorts. However, the requirements to be featured do not include how much money you can raise, or what accelerator program you are in. The only requirements are:

  1. Be building something in the mental health space

What If Ventures is a syndicate formed in January 2020 to invest in mental health and addiction related startups. In just 7 months, we have deployed $3,200,000 into 6 mental health startups.

We share all of our deals with our syndicate members on a deal-by-deal basis. Would you like to know when we are syndicating a new deal? Apply here to join our syndicate.

Are you a founder in the mental health space looking for help getting your idea to market or fundraising? Check out the What If Fellowship program built just for you, here.

Since launching the What If…


Hi, I’m Stephen. I’m the founder of What If Ventures.

Addiction and mental illness almost took my life in 2018. In 2020, I launched an AngelList syndicate to back mental health startups. Since January, I’ve backed 6 mental health startups, deploying over $3,200,000 into the space, supporting startups that are touching more than 3,000,000 lives. I’m just getting started.

Now, What If Ventures, is live as a rolling fund on AngelList.

Investors, want to join our deal distribution email list? Just let us know here, and we will reach out .

Founders — need help building your mental health startup…


“Just like Leo, in St. Tropez” (Taylor Swift dressed as Leo)

“They are killing it over there at XYZ-32 Fund.” But, are they really?

The answer is “no.” As an economist, I believe that markets are efficient and that there are rarely outliers. So, the odds are, “they” are not “killing it” 99% of the time.

Stephen Hays

Stephen Hays, Founder of What If Ventures www.whatif.vc a mental health focused venture capital fund and host of the Stigma Podcast.

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