Introducing Jason & Chris
I’m delighted to announce that Jason Stockwood and Chris Slater are investing in Sanctus and joining our Board.
Many investment blog posts focus on the money, yet this time I’d like to focus on the people, because that is what we’re most excited about.
Jason and Chris have spent the last 10 years together building Simply Business which was consecutively awarded the Sunday Times Best Place to work award, disrupted the online insurance market and has been acquired by Travelers for $490m.
I first met Jason back in 2016 when I was brokering angel investments and Jason was an Investor in a startup I was also connected to. It was around the same time that I’d just published my “coming out” post – mental health in startups and I was opening up about my mental health as a startup founder.
My post had spread quite far in the startup ecosystem and a friend of Jason’s had shared it with him before we met. As first meetings go, it was memorable because of the level of candour we both shared in talking about our mutual struggles along the way.
For me, it was particularly memorable because I’d met a successful CEO that I could look up to and aspire to, not just for their commercial success alone but because of their values and the way they held themselves.
I can remember how humble Jason was (and still is) and how we talked about his family and the importance of balance in his life and I saw someone that had travelled a road to startup “success” without seemingly having to sacrifice the rest of his life or his integrity for the price of it.
Shortly after that Jason invested in our first round and I remember after he wired the money, getting the message- “thank you for letting us be part of your journey” (or something along those lines).
Since then, he’s invested once more and been someone George and I have met up with every few months for support and guidance, with him constantly reminding us that we have to enjoy the journey and being one of the few people that tell us, the Founders, that we’re doing a good job.
After a couple of years of developing a trusting relationship with Jason, when he mentioned his business partner Chris as; “the best person he’s ever worked with” and that they were investing together, we had to meet.
George, me and our early team have grown Sanctus from nothing to something in the last few years, we’ve done so sustainably without millions in investment, we’ve created an incredible foundation and truthfully we’ve done it with little to no external help. For a business that’s all about helping others, we weren’t helping ourselves too much.
Jason and Chris started investing more seriously together, looking for businesses with a social impact so we started chatting and met Chris for the first time (just as Coronavirus hit, on Zoom).
Again, I was struck by meeting a successful entrepreneur who’d travelled the startup path to an exit who was so bloody humble, meeting Chris has felt like meeting an actual unicorn.
George and I were immediately struck by the humility, the candour and still, even after an exit, the burning desire to build something meaningful, again. And, in Chris we found someone who’d been on the path we are on, made plenty of mistakes by his own admission, been a commercial success, yet also maintained a focus on wellbeing, health and family – to us this is as important as the exit and business success with Simply.
In Chris we also met someone with a desire to get his hands dirty and guide us in running the business day-to-day. If Jason is up in the birds nest on the ship, Chris has the desire in being in the engine room, on deck and simply all over the ship – giving us guidance in whatever area needs it.
As a young team, building a business in a new category with exceedingly high standards on quality, we need experienced support on the team and Chris is not only up for it, but also has bags of experience to go with the relentless energy.
Jason and Chris will both become Board Advisors with Jason taking a Chair role and Chris supporting Vic our COO and our management team in the day-to-day running of the business.
We’re very excited to have them both involved and I believe it marks a milestone in our journey, especially as I believe we’re at an inflection point for mental health in the western world.
We’re at a crisis point and that means the ground is uncertain and there is an opportunity for us all to build a new world, with new rules, behaviours and ways of being.
We’re going to drive this movement, along with other mental health businesses, and with Jason and Chris on board for the ride we’re ready to take our mission to more partners and more people.
We all have the opportunity to make change in our lives around our mental health and we’re building the brand to make that possible for all of us – the landscape is shifting and it’s not an easy place to be right now – yet I’m deeply excited and hopeful for where we are heading and how a renewed and transformed approach to mental health can be part of our new world.
As well as this being a time to celebrate, we are also acutely aware of the lack of diversity on our Board.
We’re doing a few things about this immediately; 1) We’ll be bringing on 2 non-execs with mental health expertise to the Board and in this process we’ll actively be looking for people that can play a part in shifting the dynamics of our Board, 2) We’re beginning our work with a Diversity specialist with a mental health background and this work is starting right at the top of the organisation, with the Board.
We’re looking for two Non-execs; 1) With a practice-led background focused on mental health interventions at a group or individual level; 2) With a system/organisational led background focused on designing mental health organisations at scale.
A noble mission doesn’t mean we can get away with a lack of diversity and we know it’s something we have to work hard at to create sustained and deep system change, that’s why we’re starting at the top.
The road to a changed culture around mental health is a long and windy one, so is the path towards a genuinely more diverse and inclusive organisation – I believe we are on both paths.