Written by Stuart Foxman
As a serial entrepreneur in the technology space, and an executive coach, Cherry Rose Tan has insight into what it takes to succeed. She also understands the challenges that investors, leaders and their employees all experience. A common but overlooked one: mental health issues.
Despite the prevalence of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, people aren’t always quick to seek help. “The stigma is high, and people can feel there’s a cost for sharing,” says Tan.
She has set out to change that by creating For Founders by Founders, which Tan calls a mental health movement for the tech industry.
Tan, who also has an academic background in psychology, trains tech and venture capital firms on things like burnout and emotional skills. Founders and investors also break the stigma by talking about their mental health stories as survivors or allies (pledgeyourstory.com/press).
This new venture continues an eclectic career. Tan comes from a family of entrepreneurs (going back five generations). She has worked as a teacher, co-founded ThoughtKite (Canada's first mobile development bootcamp), and ran LearnThree (a learning and admissions consultancy for K-12 students). Tan was also an early investor in Paycase Financial, a network that merges traditional and crypto finance.
The impetus to create For Founders by Founders came two years ago, when Tan faced a series of traumatic events in quick succession. First she was in a major accident, then her brother died unexpectedly, and lastly her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Tan felt all alone, and decided to help others who are going through tough times.
Through other female entrepreneurs in her circle, Tan also got connected with One More Woman.
The educational, training and consulting platform supports female business owners like her. The goal is to help One More Woman members grow as leaders, better manage money, and expand their enterprises.
Tan says that for entrepreneurs, money has its own language but it isn’t written. “How do you talk to investors so people take you seriously? How do you present yourself, or negotiate a deal that allows you to showcase your worth?” says Tan. “When I got into entrepreneurship, that’s something I struggled with.”
She says Jennifer Love, One More Woman’s CEO, helped her through a process called “re-write your money story”. Tan was surprised at how emotional that was for her. It’s easy to self-sabotage, she says, like asking for less than your real value.
In many ways, she says money and mental health have a connection too. When people succeed in a material way, like running a company or raising millions from investors, they might think they have it all together. That’s how it can appear. So how can they be depressed? It can lead to denial.
That’s why For Founders by Founders can have an impact, in getting people to talk about mental health more openly. “We operate like a startup,” says Tan, “but we’re a social enterprise.”
Photo credit: Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real