Eve Mamane Of Agave Health On The Benefits Of Running A Purpose-Driven Business

An Interview With Chad Silverstein

Give it your all, it’s worth the ride. It won’t be easy. But if your purpose is important enough, it’s worth every long night, effort, and sweat.

In today’s competitive business landscape, the race for profits often takes center stage. However, there are some leaders who also prioritize a mission-driven purpose. They use their business to make a positive social impact and recognize that success isn’t only about making money. In this interview series, we are talking with some of these distinct leaders and I had the pleasure of interviewing Eve Mamane.

Eve is a marketing executive with extensive experience building and leading growth departments. After spending a decade working at and advising some of the most up-and-coming B2C startups (including Wix, Fiverr, Atera, Easyplant, and more), Eve went on to build her own health technology startup, Agave Health, the first virtual clinic for adults with ADHD. Inspired by her husband’s ADHD diagnosis and struggles, she made it her life mission to address the tremendous care gap existing for adults with ADHD by making behavioral care more accessible. Bringing her contagious energy into this venture, she put together a breathtaking team that serves adults across the USA with the highest level of behavioral care at the most affordable price on the market, all delivered in-app. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Eve is also a family-woman: she founded Agave and raised funds from early-stage venture capitals while being pregnant and raising her first child. As such, she’s an advocate for female entrepreneurship and proudly demonstrates that pregnancy and motherhood have a space in the startup world, from the meeting room of an investor to a top management executive’s desk.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us your “Origin Story”? Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born and raised in Switzerland, by an Israeli mother and a Moroccan father. My parents both grew up modest and worked extremely hard to give a different reality to me and my sibling. Their perseverance, determination, and values sit at the heart of my north stars today. Everything that followed is a direct testament to what my parents set as an example, and building a purpose-driven business is truly the epitome of their teachings.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I think the most interesting part so far has been the wide paradox I’ve had the opportunity to witness when it comes to understanding neurodiversity. Since establishing Agave Health, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with countless investors, mental health experts, neurodivergent individuals, and fellow innovators in the healthcare space. It still blows my mind to see how neurodiversity is so often misunderstood. I’ve had investors and high-tech experts share their own stories of their children being diagnosed with ADHD and stating in full conviction: “But I’m not worried, because once they become adults, they will grow out of it” or “We’re giving them stimulant medication so their ADHD will eventually be cured”. The misunderstanding and stigma that we still have around neurodiversity and its association to childhood alone is probably one of the biggest challenges we have to overcome in the healthcare community.

We often learn the most from our mistakes. Can you share one that you made that turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned?

We’ve definitely made mistakes so far and have gained valuable learnings from it. However, we’re still early on in our journey, so I am sure we have bigger mistakes and lessons coming our way soon! If I had to choose one for the time we’ve had so far, I would say that it was somewhat of a waste of time seeking out investors who weren’t the right partners for us. We’ve been lucky to have only the most valuable partners join us in the end. However, we have had irrelevant discussions with potential investors we should have known to filter out from the get-go, for instance when speaking to investors who have a very shallow understanding of healthcare or mental health, or investors who are made for the “plain vanilla” businesses that don’t bare the extra responsibility and challenge of a purpose-driven venture like ours.

As a successful leader, it’s clear that you uphold strong core values. I’m curious what are the most important principles you firmly stand by and refuse to compromise on. Can you share a few of them and explain why they hold such significance for you in your work and life?

Humility. Quality of care. Can-do attitude.

These are the three main values that accompany me, my co-founder Ori Fruhauf, and our entire team every day as we build Agave.

Humility: When building a product, one of the biggest mistakes one can make is to think they know their customers better than the customers know themselves. When building in healthcare, making this mistake can have irreparable consequences. We constantly emphasize that we all must stay humble — no matter our roles in the organization or our backgrounds — in order to be able to listen to and incorporate the needs, feelings, and wishes of our customers.

Quality of care: This comes with the deal of building a purpose-driven business. Since we’ve taken on the enormous responsibility of supporting a population in need of appropriate health care, we cannot — under any circumstance — allow ourselves to compromise on quality of care. When business challenges come up, it is our opportunity to start thinking outside the box to ensure we overcome those challenges without compromising on the quality of our care.

Can-do attitude: Building a business is probably one of the most arduous endeavors one can take on. When we encounter obstacles (and we do, often), our ability to say “there is nothing that cannot be resolved” or “there is nothing we cannot learn” allows us to ensure that we pull up our sleeves, get far out of our comfort zone, and find innovative solutions to complex problems.

These three values are what Ori and I hold ourselves to uphold at all times, and we expect every member of our team to work by those same standards as well.

What inspired you to start a purpose-driven business rather than a traditional for-profit enterprise? Can you share a personal story or experience that led you to prioritize social impact in your business?

The inspiration behind starting Agave Health stemmed from my personal journey with ADHD, which began when I met my husband. He was diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, prior to our meeting, and it opened my eyes to a condition I knew very little about. Initially, I didn’t fully comprehend the depth and complexity of the diagnosis and naively believed that he could simply “try harder.”

However, as we started living together, I began to witness firsthand the extraordinary effort he had to exert to complete tasks that appeared simple to me. I also observed the impact of ADHD medication on him — how it could be helpful at times, but also fail him and push him to emotional limits that seemed neither healthy nor sustainable.

This prompted me to delve deeper into researching ADHD, leading me to realize the striking lack of adequate behavioral care available for adults facing similar challenges. I recognized an underserved community that deserved comprehensive and accessible care without compromising on quality. This realization evolved into the vision that is now Agave Health.

Can you help articulate a few of the benefits of leading a purpose-driven business rather than a standard “plain vanilla” business?

The biggest benefit really is the ability to overcome obstacles and think innovatively: when your sole motivation to tackle difficult problems is to be able to make more money unless your entire life revolves around materialistic gains, this motivation quickly fades out. There are many other ways of making good money that don’t require building a business from scratch. However, when your motivation is greater than this, when you see in yourself, your loved ones, or your friends the opportunity to make a tremendous difference in someone’s life, no obstacle can tame your motivation to find a solution, which makes it much easier to pull together the energy required to overcome the said challenge.

How has your company’s mission or purpose affected its overall success? Can you explain the methods or metrics you use to evaluate the impact of this purpose-driven strategy on your organization?

As a business, we use traditional performance metrics to evaluate our business performance (ROI, growth, etc.) as well as outcome-focused metrics. Those outcome metrics are a direct representation of the real impact we have on our end users. When such metrics are part of your core performance evaluation, driving success becomes much more meaningful to employees or partners of the company, which in turn fuels a bigger impact on said success.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you realized that leading your purpose-driven company was actually making a significant impact? Can you share a specific example or story that deeply resonated with you personally?

I think the most meaningful moment for me in this regard was when we received our very first video testimonial. It was from Jamie — you can see it here — who had been with us for about half a year when he sent it in. The way he articulated his experience was so relatable and genuine, that his words gave me personally an even greater sense of responsibility and honor of working to build solutions for such an incredible community. Ever since and on a more regular basis, receiving feedback and testimonials from our user base is one of the strongest motivators for me and the team, and truly expresses in an incomparable way the impact we manage to have as a company.

Have you ever faced a situation where your commitment to your purpose and creating a positive social impact clashed with the profitability of your business? Have you ever been challenged by anyone on your team or had to make a tough decision that had a significant impact on finances? If so, how did you address and reconcile this conflict?

We haven’t had this situation arise yet. I am not fully sure it can be attributed to our youth as a company, as much as to the fact that our priorities are clear and unwavering. We put quality of care first — in other words, the very purpose for which we exist as a company — and business second. Our business goals have to align with our ability to never compromise on quality of care. Truly, this isn’t impossible to reconcile: once we look at the population we support as a diverse group where not all members need the exact same level or type of care, it gives us all the flexibility needed to work our business goals into this personalization. It doesn’t make our work simpler, quite the opposite, but it does make it more easily aligned with our business targets.

What are your “Top 5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Create A Highly Successful Purpose-Driven Business.”

1 . Choose your partners well

From your co-founder to your team, partners, and investors, make sure the people that join you along the way are purpose-driven at their very core. It takes a purpose-driven individual to know the difference, and only those who deeply identify with your mission will help you take it to the next level.

2 . Never assume you know best

Even if you have a personal story that has led you to look into the purpose you’ve chosen to build around, stay always open-minded to learn more. In healthcare, each experience is individual, and you’ll be able to help the largest number of people only if you’re able to give space to this variety, to deeply comprehend it. So before you learn to identify patterns or build schema, learn to listen.

3 . Quality is everything in a purpose-driven business

If you’re building for an important purpose, you can’t compromise. Doing things halfway can often be even more detrimental than not doing anything at all. Never compromise on quality.

4 . Give it your all, it’s worth the ride

It won’t be easy. But if your purpose is important enough, it’s worth every long night, effort, and sweat.

I’m interested in how you instill a strong sense of connection with your team. How do you nurture a culture where everyone feels connected to your mission? Could you share an example or story that showcases how your purpose has positively influenced or motivated people on your team to contribute?

Our team can be split into two: those in roles that are client-facing, where they interact daily with the individuals we care for, and those in roles that are internal, or where they don’t have a direct connection to our end users. We consistently ensure that those in the latter group get exposed to stories and insights from the former. To that end, we have the “Stories corner” in our recurring company meeting, where these stories are shared — anonymously of course — in order to ensure everyone connects to what we do and is always reminded of the importance of our mission.

Imagine we’re sitting down together two years from now, looking back at your company’s last 24 months. What specific accomplishments would have to happen for you to be happy with your progress?

By then, we’ll be supporting millions of neurodivergent people, getting constant feedback that the personalization and versatility of our care is the most impactful thing that’s happened to them in their ADHD journey. We’re partnering with employers to not only support their population but also to train their management in how to hire, onboard, and help their ADHD population. And we’re starting to build the blocks needed to guide parents who have children with ADHD. Throughout all of those activities, we are at the forefront of the inclusion of the neurodiverse community in the workplace and in society at large.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

It would probably be a movement that promotes and perpetuates tolerance and curiosity for the different. Our society is on the one hand more aware of diversity in recent decades, on the other less willing to integrate it. We judge more easily and assume more comfortably than we should. It is ironic to think about it because it is quite contradictory: we’re more aware on the one hand but less smart about the way we address diversity on the other. So the movement would be around transforming this awareness into self-learning as a first step, and true, unyielding tolerance on the other, leading eventually to the proper integration of the different, in our case the neurodivergent.

How can our readers further follow your work or your company online?

You’re invited to follow Agave Health on LinkedIn, Facebook, and TikTok, of course! And you’re also invited to follow me on LinkedIn, where I often share thoughts about neurodiversity and updates about Agave.

This was great. Thanks for taking time for us to learn more about you and your business. We wish you continued success!

About the Interviewer: Chad Silverstein is an accomplished entrepreneur and visionary leader. He started his first company, Choice Recovery, Inc., while attending Ohio State University and grew it to become an industry outlier before selling the business after 25 successful years. With the launch of his second venture, [re]start, a career development platform, Chad aimed to help people find meaningful career opportunities. Under his leadership, his team was recognized as a “Top Workplace” award winner for over a decade, twice being ranked the #1 small and medium-sized business to work for in Central Ohio. Chad sold [re]start in 2023, enabling him to focus on building an online community of high-performing leaders and continuing to make a positive impact in people’s lives.