#1 - Mars & More

A chat with Mars, co-founder of mental wellness app: Wellnest. As well as opportunities and programs for founders & diverse candidates down below :)


Hey everyone! We’re super excited to kick-off our newsletter series and share the various opportunities from within the Envision community. This week I got to sit down with Mars and chat about what she’s building at Wellnest. Hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to share any feedback!

🗞 Story of the Week

Marissa (Mars) Hovasse is a co-founder of Wellnest, a self-care journal that promotes mindfulness and an individual's mental wellbeing through journaling, guided reflections, and gamification. During her time at the University of Michigan, she studied Cognitive Science and Communications Media and interned in marketing. Mars & team are the most talented Wolverines to graduate since Tom Brady and I'm super excited to share some of her learnings as she navigated through the startup world right after graduation... and during a pandemic.

How did you begin your journey with Wellnest and what have you enjoyed the most so far about it?

I was very lucky to meet them my senior year at Michigan, I actually met Tommy when we were interning at LinkedIn together. It's really crazy to think that we had never met previously and now the entire Wellnest team is the thing that really drives me to do better every day. We really work well together, push each other, and treat every day as a new learning experience and I don't think I would be able to get that anywhere else.

Can you share some of the biggest wins you've had recently?

The first one that comes to mind is we closed our first round of pre-seed funding. When we started this senior year, it was just a side project in a space we were really passionate about (Mental Wellness). Being able to work on this full-time, make a living, and, I know I said this already, work with this amazing team, is probably the sickest thing I've ever experienced.

I say this a lot but I am truly a simp for my team. I can count that as another win to be honest, being able to do all of this with a group of people that inspires me is something that not many others can say, so I'm really grateful for it. A tough part about building a startup is figuring out the team dynamic and a huge win for us is being able to get

The final big win is we signed contracts with Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania, super exciting to see students from these schools joining our Discord and becoming a part of our community.

How do you manage the startup life?

This is actually something we are still learning and improving on. When we first decided Wellnest was going to be a real thing, we struggled with work-life balance and setting expectations for each other. We are now better at setting clear boundaries and having clear communication with each other. Something that I'm proud of at Wellnest is that we don't buy into the "hustle culture" where it's company over everything else. We really believe a great product can only be built by a supported and thriving team, so we always put the people first.

Obviously, we are building a mental well-being and mental-health app, so it's important to us that we can emulate what we learned from building into the real world and for us to feel free and safe to take care of ourselves first. A thing

Who has helped you get to where you are today?

There are so so so many that I feel bad just listing a few but I'll shoutout a couple that have really been a pleasure to work with.

  • Mike Levinthal: We were also introduced to him by luck, a 2nd or 3rd-degree connection to one of Tommy's summer roommates. He was one of our earliest advisors that introduced us to the VC world and connected us with amazing product people the met with us during our idea stage to walk through our mockups. He really helped facilitate intros to so many talented people

  • John Andrews: He was the first angel check into Wellnest that we got through Twitter DMs when we were all living together over the summer, which was crazy. That was the first time it felt like the work we put in was validated by somebody else and he helped keep us going until we raised our round.

  • Turner Novak: The catalyst for our round. He has been sick, literally changed our lives and introduced us to the majority of the cap table in our pre-seed round, and is always advocating for us.

  • Envision: Without Envision, I don't know where we'd be, to be honest. We were in a very rough and dark stage of building the company before Envision. You guys believed in us and because of that we were able to keep going and make all of the other amazing stuff happen.

What’s next?

I'm dedicated to making Wellnest the best experience possible for all of our users. In a few weeks from now, the app will look completely different. These next 3 - 6 months we are really digging into a few key themes: gamification, social, and personalization. We really want to make everything feel fun, make it so that you are taking care of your mental health without even thinking about it. A few of these iterations are already in the works, but things will soon start to pick-up!

Be sure to follow Mars on Twitter, join her amazing Discord server, and download the Wellnest app! She's always looking for new friends to chat or play Minecraft with on the weekends!

📣 What’s Happening at Envision?

  • We kicked off cohort 3! If you are an investor interested in getting matched with portfolio companies that align with your stage, thesis, or industry, fill out this interest form and we'll get back to you!

  • Join our friends at Carta for an Equity Essentials workshop on 3/30. Learn the basics of startup equity as an early employee or founder of a startup! Register for the session & get more info.

  • Cohort 2 founder, Timi, is hosting fireside chats with Jay Drain Jr., Maria Salamanca, and Jordan Walker for Black and Latinx tech professionals. Reach out to him for an invite!

🎯 Resources and Opportunities

Job openings from our community!

📚 What We’re Reading