Biotech & Health

Khosla-backed Marble, built by former Headway founders, offers affordable group therapy for teens


Marble founder Jake Sussman
Image Credits: Jake Sussman / Marble

Rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are surging among U.S. teens.

A recent report from the Center of Disease Control found that nearly one in three girls have seriously considered suicide, and a significant number, 13% have actually attempted it.

Psychologists have various theories about what’s causing adolescent mental health crises.  

Some blame the increased use of smartphones and social media, while others believe that the isolation during the pandemic has played a significant role.

While the primary drivers of teen psychological difficulties are not well understood, the bigger challenge now is finding ways to solve the growing problem, given a nationwide shortage of mental health professionals.

Jake Sussman, who was one of the four co-founders of unicorn-size mental health network Headway, believes his new startup can help address the deepening crisis by offering online group therapy for children in grades five through 12.

After leaving Headway two years ago, Sussman decided to try something entirely different. He became a fifth-grade English teacher at a charter school in Brooklyn. That experience not only gave him an opportunity to teach kids how to write essays but also gave him a front-row seat to why the mental health care for children is currently broken.

Sussman’s school had one counselor, but despite that person’s best effort, they often couldn’t arrange timely help for students, he said.

“[Counselors] are not clinicians. They have massive caseloads,” Sussman said. “The best they can do is give families physical PDFs of clinics that all have long wait lists.”

He shared the story of Jamelia, an orphan who became depressed after her best friend left the school. Because Jamelia was covered by Medicaid, she had to wait three months to see a therapist.

Sussman realized that one way to solve the mental health professional shortage is to offer help in a group setting.

“Group care has been around for a long time,” Sussman said. “They’ve been studied rigorously. And they work.”  

While studies found that group therapy is as effective as individual therapy, this type of treatment is not often offered by mental health professionals.

Even though therapists in private practice can make more money running group sessions, group treatment isn’t popular with behavioral health providers because they are an enormous administrative challenge, according to Sussman. “You’re not going to find 10 kids, coordinate 10 schedules and verify 10 insurances. It’s too much work.”

Because of logistics, online group therapy may also be more effective than in-person treatment, according to Sussman.

“If you have two groups, and one is just 17-year-old girls who have anxiety and another is 17-year-old girls who have anxiety and are Hispanic, and identify as LGBTQ, that second group, all things equal, is going to be much, much more effective because it’s more specific,” Sussman said. “The second group would be virtually impossible to fill in person. How are you going to find 10 people who fit those criteria within a commutable radius of the group location?”

Marble, which Sussman started late last year with another Headway co-founder, Dan Ross, claims it can solve the logistics of organizing group treatment and, at the same time, help many more students without sacrificing quality of care. On Friday, the startup is coming out of stealth and announcing that it has raised $5 million in seed funding from Khosla Ventures, Town Hall Ventures and IA Ventures, with participation from Daybreak Ventures and Lorimer Ventures.

Sussman said Marble’s main competitors are school-focused teletherapy startups Hazel, Daybreak and Cartwheel, which partner directly with school districts. “Schools have budgets available for student mental health, but these budgets are fickle and fairly small,” Sussman said, adding that schools may pay for up to six private therapy sessions, but that’s not enough time to treat students.

Marble’s approach is different. The company partners with school counselors who have the authority to make referrals, Sussman said.

Instead of charging school districts for Marble’s services, the company works with insurance, including Medicaid.

Sussman explained that Marble’s approach is economically feasible because Medicaid will pay at least $20 a child for a group session. “With 10 kids in a group, we can make $200 for that hour, which means we can pay the therapist a competitive rate and still have enough money left over to actually build the business,” Sussman said.

Marble tested this approach with one school in New York City and intends to establish a relationship with hundreds of counselors throughout New York State during the next school year. “Counselors see the magic of not having wait lists,” Sussman said. “They realize it’s much better than what they’re currently using.”

While the company is starting its services in New York, it plans to expand to other states. 

More TechCrunch

Fisker is just a few days into its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the fight over its assets is already charged, with one lawyer claiming the startup has been liquidating assets…

The fight over Fisker’s assets is already heating up

A hacker is advertising customer data allegedly stolen from the Australia-based live events and ticketing company TEG on a well-known hacking forum. On Thursday, a hacker put up for sale…

Hacker claims to have 30 million customer records from Australian ticket seller giant TEG

Welcome to Startups Weekly — Haje‘s weekly recap of everything you can’t miss from the world of startups. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday. Elon…

Tesla makes Musk best-paid CEO of all time and Fisker bites the dust

Dot is a new AI companion and chatbot that thrives on getting to know your innermost thoughts and feelings.

Dot’s AI really, really wants to get to know you

The e-fuels startup is working on producing fuel for aviation and maritime shipping using carbon dioxide and other waste carbon streams.

E-fuels startup Aether Fuels is raising $34.3 million, per filing

Fisker was facing “potential financial distress” as early as last August, according to a new filing in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, which the EV startup initiated earlier this week.…

Fisker faced financial distress as early as last August

Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, has agreed to pay a $112,500 fine for failing to provide full information about an accident involving one of its robotaxis last year.…

Cruise clears key hurdle to getting robotaxis back on roads in California

Feel Therapeutics has a pretty original deck, with some twists we rarely see; the company did a great job telling the overall story.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Feel Therapeutics’ $3.5M seed deck

The Rockset buy fits into OpenAI’s broader recent strategy of investing heavily in its enterprise sales and tech orgs.

OpenAI buys Rockset to bolster its enterprise AI

The U.S. government announced sanctions against 12 executives and senior leaders of the Russia-based cybersecurity giant Kaspersky. In a press release, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets…

US government sanctions Kaspersky executives

Style DNA, an AI-powered fashion stylist app, creates a personalized style profile from a single selfie. The app is particularly useful for people interested in seasonal color analysis, a process…

Style DNA gets a generative AI chatbot that suggests outfit ideas based on your color type

Rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are surging among U.S. teens. A recent report from the Center of Disease Control found that nearly one in three girls have seriously…

Khosla-backed Marble, built by former Headway founders, offers affordable group therapy for teens
Image Credits: Jake Sussman / Marble

Cover says what sets it apart is the underlying technology it employs, which has been exclusively licensed from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A new startup from Figure’s founder is licensing NASA tech in a bid to curb school shootings

Spotify is introducing a new “Basic” streaming plan in the United States, the company announced on Friday. The new plan costs $10.99 per month and includes all of the benefits…

Spotify launches a new Basic streaming plan in the US

Photographers say the social media giant is applying a ‘Made with AI’ label to photos they took, causing confusion for users.

Meta is tagging real photos as ‘Made with AI,’ say photographers

Website building platform Squarespace is selling Tock, its restaurant reservation service, to American Express in a deal worth $400 million — the exact figure that Squarespace paid for the service…

Squarespace sells restaurant reservation system Tock to American Express for $400M

Featured Article

Change Healthcare confirms ransomware hackers stole medical records on a ‘substantial proportion’ of Americans

The February ransomware attack on UHG-owned Change Healthcare stands as one of the largest-ever known digital thefts of U.S. medical records.

19 hours ago
Change Healthcare confirms ransomware hackers stole medical records on a ‘substantial proportion’ of Americans

Google said today that it globally paused its experiment that aimed to allow new kinds of real-money games on the Play Store, citing the challenges that come with the lack…

Google pauses its experiment to expand real-money games on the Play Store

Venture firms raised $9.3 billion in Q1 according to PitchBook data, which means this year likely won’t match or surpass 2023’s $81.8 billion total. While emerging managers are feeling the…

Kevin Hartz’s A* raises its second oversubscribed fund in three years

Google is making reviews of all your movies, TV shows, books, albums and games visible under one profile page starting June 24, according to an email sent to users last…

Google is making your movie and TV reviews visible under a new profile page

Zepto, an Indian quick commerce startup, has more than doubled its valuation to $3.6 billion in a new funding round of $665 million.

Zepto, a 10-minute delivery app, raises $665M at $3.6B valuation

Speak, the AI-powered language learning app, has raised new money from investors at double its previous valuation.

Language learning app Speak nets $20M, doubles valuation

SpaceX unveiled Starlink Mini, a more portable version of its satellite internet product that is small enough to fit inside a backpack.  Early Starlink customers were invited to purchase the…

SpaceX debuts portable Starlink Mini for $599

Ali Rathod-Papier has stepped down from her role as global head of compliance at corporate card expense management startup Brex to join venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) as a partner…

Brex’s compliance head has left the fintech startup to join Andreessen Horowitz as a partner

U.S. officials imposed the “first of its kind” ban arguing that Kaspersky threatens U.S. national security because of its links to Russia.

US bans sale of Kaspersky software citing security risk from Russia 

Apple has released Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 and Final Cut Camera, the company announced on Thursday. Both apps were previously announced during the company’s iPad event in May.…

Apple releases Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 and Final Cut Camera

Paris has quickly established itself as a major European center for AI startups, and now another big deal is in the works.

Poolside is raising $400M+ at a $2B valuation to build a supercharged coding co-pilot

The space industry is all abuzz about how SpaceX’s Starship, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, and other heavy-lift rockets will change just about everything. One likely consequence is that spacecraft will…

Gravitics prepares a testing gauntlet for a new generation of giant spacecraft

LTK (formerly and RewardStyle), the influencer shopping app with 40 million monthly users, announced on Thursday the launch of a free direct message tool for creators to instantly share…

Influencer shopping app LTK gets an automatic direct message tool

YouTube appears to be taking a firm stance against Premium subscribers who attempt to use a VPN (virtual private network) to access cheaper subscription prices in other countries. This week,…

YouTube confirms crackdown on VPN users accessing cheaper Premium plans