April Koh: Youngest Woman to Run a Unicorn


Koh speaking at the Forbes U30 Summit in November, 2021

Gia Shin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

At 29 years old, April Koh, co-founder and CEO at Spring Health, is the youngest woman to run a multi-billion dollar startup. Spring Health, a mental health care provider, proved to be more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Koh’s journey to creating Spring Health started in 2016, when she recognized that her roommate was suffering from an eating disorder. The roommate took seven different antidepressants and had to wait long periods of time before receiving treatment at a clinic. Koh came across a research paper byAdam Cspeakhekroud, a Yale doctoral student, detailing how machine learning could help match patients to proper treatments. She partnered with Chekroud to build Spring Health.

One of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is a mental health crisis affecting people of all ages. Spring Health connects employees with a form of mental health care tailored to the individual, whether it be “therapy, psychiatry or digital behavioral health tools,” according to a press release. Its mission is to reduce the barriers to mental health for employees from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds, in addition to supplementing or entirely supplanting traditional mental health programs with Spring Health’s individualized healthcare services. They focus on “precision mental health care”—reducing the trial and error in finding solutions to mental illnesses. “Mental health is not ‘one size fits all,’” Koh said. “Given the growing epidemic of mental health, it’s more critical than ever to acknowledge the individual needs of every person, and to provide them with the care that’s precisely right for them.”

The startup secured $190 million during a Series C round last September, which elevated it to the $2 billion “unicorn” status. Spring Health offers resources for family members as well, such as relationship counseling, parental coaching, and pediatric mental healthcare, according to PR Newswire.

Koh, the youngest female unicorn CEO, received honors from the American Psychiatric Association, was chosen among Goldman Sachs’ 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs, and was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30. She was 24 years old and still a student when she started the company. Koh shared that starting a business younger is a double-edged sword: she could thrust herself into the entrepreneurial journey without much to lose; however, she let age-based insecurities mislead several of her decisions. 

Spring Health is now thriving and serves over 150 companies, from Fortune 500 corporations to startups. Its customers include GAP, PepsiCo, TED, Whole Foods Market, and Instacart. Spring Health plans to integrate more partnerships with other mental health care  moving forward.