From Corporate Law to Mental Health Tech
After three years of practicing at a corporate firm, Jeremy Weisz wanted to make a bigger impact with his professional life. Working with his brother Simon, they decided to start Greenspace, a tech company focusing on improving mental health treatment outcomes by matching patients with mental health therapists and facilitating the measurement of progress throughout treatment. Their success in Canada has motivated them to continue to grow and they recently succeeded in raising a $1.4 million seed financing to expand into the US market.
The Road to Law School
Jeremy Weisz’s decision to go to law school was relatively simple, as he extended his undergraduate degree at the Ivey business school to a six year concurrent HBA and JD program. Looking back at his decision, he would have preferred to take a few years after undergrad to work and gain some life experience before starting law school.
“For whatever reason, I felt like there was a rush to graduate and start my career, and I thought that taking time off in between might be a waste of time. In hindsight, that was silly.”
While still in school, Jeremy started True North Sports Camps, a summer sports camp for children. Having grown up playing and coaching baseball, he had the experience and the enthusiasm to work with kids. He started it with his brother and two friends as a way to ensure that they would have fun summer jobs (avoiding having a “real job”, as he states).
Jeremy practiced law for three years at Goodmans LLP focusing on smaller M&A transactions. He says that this was great experience for him because he had the opportunity to work closely with the small businesses and could be more involved than if he were working on bigger deals.
During this time, Jeremy was still running his growing summer camp part-time. He says that he spent many late nights planning and preparing activities.
“Those hours between 11 at night and 2 in the morning, they never felt like work.”
Jeremy’s decision to change his career was not because he didn’t enjoy practicing. He was always treated well and looks back on his time at Goodmans fondly. What ultimately pushed him was his own drive to have ownership over something and be able to make decisions that impact the success in a business. Jeremy realized that he wanted to make a bigger impact, both in business and in other people’s lives.
Jeremy originally left law for a business and product development role at Aequitas, a Canadian company launching a new stock exchange. Although he had a lot more ownership of the product, he still did not get ultimate decision-making power. This was a good starting point for Jeremy because it gave him a formal introduction to software development, but he was still craving something more.
Taking on a New Role
Jeremy Weisz and his brother Simon decided to start something new. Something that, along with being a good business opportunity, had the potential to positively affect the health and well-being of millions of people. They came up with the idea for Greenspace, an online platform to improve mental health treatment outcomes.
Greenspace is able to facilitate and measure progress in order to improve treatment outcomes. Their program can help predict which therapist new patients are most likely to be successful with, and assesses and tracks their progress. By making the process more transparent, both the therapist and the patient can use the data to effectively improve treatment based on the individual needs of the patient.
“There is a complete lack of attention paid to mental health generally, and we saw an opportunity to positively impact outcomes in mental health.”
Jeremy tells us that his job is extremely varied, switching back and forth between sales, accounting, legal tasks, operations, customer service, and product development. Jeremy had decided with his brother that Simon would focus on growth and sales, while he picks up the slack with the remaining responsibilities.
When asked about the challenges he faced in his transition, Jeremy first said that in terms of skill set and workflow, it was not that different than many of the skills he learned and used as a lawyer.
“When you’re practicing as a lawyer, you can have 12 files on the go at one time. In many respects it’s similar to running an early stage company where you constantly have to tackle all sorts of different tasks.”
What did change for Jeremy was security in his career trajectory. At a corporate firm he knew where his career path was going, but at a new company, there are no promotions or career paths, and your future is uncertain.
On top of that, the emotional impact of negative developments or results has a much bigger effect on him. Jeremy notes that at a law firm, your career is not dependent on one deal, but when running an early stage company, every deal and every customer is critical.
“If potential customers tell you ‘I don’t know why you are building this and I’m never going to use it’, it is emotionally difficult.”
Jeremy offers up advice to other lawyers thinking about quitting practice. He strongly believes that good opportunities should not go unpursued.
“If you find an opportunity that checks most of your boxes, just do it. You’ll regret it forever if you want to try something and you don’t try it.”
However, he reminds us all that the grass isn’t always greener. Jeremy hears many complaints about lawyers not being treated well at firms, but he notes that this is not true. The reality is that many lawyers have a nice place to work, are compensated well, and have many benefits that most jobs do not have. He believes this is important to keep in mind if considering leaving.
As for advice on starting a business, Jeremy advocates for doing as much as you can and getting as much started as possible before leaving practice. He refers to this as the “side hustle”.
“There’s a lot you can do while being fully employed, like in those hours between 11 pm and 2 am.”
Jeremy’s story shows us that working hard and putting in the work is essential in becoming a successful entrepreneur.