Seven years ago, when Danny Freed was a junior at the University of Michigan, a childhood friend died by suicide. The man struggled with bipolar disorder, and died between appointments with medical professionals.
“It really smacked me in the face,” Freed said.
Freed grieved, graduated and started a successful mobile app business. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that his energy was misdirected — he spent nights and weekends researching the role that technology could play to better support patients suffering from mental illness.
Last year, he launched Blueprint, a startup that automates the process of collecting, submitting and tracking mental health patients’ treatment progress. Today, the Chicago company raised a $3.4 million seed round led by Bonfire and Lightbank Ventures. The startup helps mental health clinicians monitor patients before, during and between appointments, asking them questions about their mood, sleep, exercise patterns and more. It then shares this information with their clinician to help them create a personal treatment plan.
“Each time a patient completes a Blueprint assessment, their clinician can earn additional money from most insurance plans,” Freed said. “We help them tap into these new billing codes that are reimbursing them for delivering measurement-based care.”
The investment in Blueprint comes as consumer depression has been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, with individuals remaining isolated, out of work and, in some cases, coping with the loss of a loved one. Since February, revenue at Blueprint has grown by 12 times, Freed said. Patient enrollment in the platform has increased 800 percent. The company now counts about 100 mental health clinics as customers.
“Many of our partners are actually already seeing increased demand for mental health services,” Freed said. “Their waitlist is growing, they’re trying to hire more clinicians and it’s very, very quickly accelerated the inevitable move towards telehealth.”
Over the next year, Freed expects Blueprint’s customer base to triple. To accommodate increased demand, the 12-person company aims to quadruple its headcount by the end of next year, and is hiring engineers, product managers, marketers and more. The seed round brings total investment in Blueprint to $4.7 million.
Through the startup, Freed said he hopes to support individuals like his late friend.
“The thing I remember most is just his kindness, and ability to be a genuine friend and really have those real conversations,” Freed said. “He was always just a really, really, really good friend. I hope he can be remembered in some small way through the work that we’re doing at Blueprint.”