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LifeStance CEO on IPO: It's 'the ultimate team sport'

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LifeStance makes its public debut on the Nasdaq under the ticker ‘LSFT’. LifeStance Founder and CEO Mike Lester joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.

Video Transcript



JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. I'm Jared Blikre. LifeStance Health group is a mental health care provider. They have more than 370 locations in the US. And guess what? They are IPOing on the NASDAQ today. We're waiting for that first print.

But in the meantime, I want to talk to the CEO, bring in Mike Lester, the LifeStance founder and CEO. So congratulations on your IPO here. I know you're on pins and needles. But why don't you just tell us a little bit about your company first and what you do?

MIKE LESTER: Sure, thank you, Jared. So today [INAUDIBLE] the nation's largest tech-enabled outpatient mental health company. So if you're, you know, experiencing anything from mild depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, we have clinicians in 27 states that could treat you for-- for any issues that you might have there. We employ psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed therapists, and psychologist. And we employ about 3,300 of those today.

- Mike, we have seen the issue of mental health really come into focus during the pandemic. And I wonder, just given your business, what kind of demand you have seen throughout the last year. And how have the needs changed as a result?

MIKE LESTER: Yeah, the-- there is a supply-demand issue. There are so many people seeking mental health services today. It's been significantly de-stigmatized. You know, 25-year-olds go out to dinner and talk about their mental health. And if you don't have a therapist, it's a sign of weakness.

So it's-- it's much more acceptable today. And there's just a huge issue. Everybody talks about the next pandemic, post-COVID, is the mental health crisis in the United States. So LifeStance is all about trying to provide improved access to trusted, affordable, personalized mental health today.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, I want to follow up with that. And you are in the driver's seat looking at trends firsthand in the mental health industry. We talk a lot about how the pandemic has accelerated certain trends. Have you seen this with acceptance by ordinary people of mental health issues?

MIKE LESTER: Yeah, there's a significant increase in acceptance. And part of that, I think, has been driven by this hybrid model that-- that we now offer, where, you know, half of our visits are-- on a go-forward basis, half of our visits will be virtual and half will be in-person. Those visits have spiked up to 90% of our visits right now are virtual.

And as clinicians start going back to the office, everybody becomes vaccinated, patients start going back to the office because while they're very acceptable-- acceptance of the virtual model, they still want to have that in-person connection with their mental health provider, and vice versa. The mental health provider does want that in-person connection with the patient.

- So, Mike, how do you expand with this IPO and the funds that you raise? I mean, where do you see the real needs expanding to, especially given the demand that you just highlighted?

MIKE LESTER: Sure. So the IPO gives us an opportunity to continue to invest in our technology platform. It gives us the opportunity to continue to open up new centers. We're opening up a new center every 4 and 1/2 days today. And then it also gives us an opportunity to build this fully integrated care model, where we're integrating mental health clinicians in primary care.

So we have mental health clinicians that actually go to work in a large primary care group practice. And research has demonstrated that if you spend $1 in early collaborative mental health care, it lowers overall medical care costs of that patient by $6.50, so the cardiovascular care cost or the diabetic care cost. So everybody wins when everybody has better mental health.

JARED BLIKRE: We want to finish here by asking you about the IPO process, what it's been like for you, what the timing was. I'm seeing a number of other issues come to market today, trading for the first time. What's it been like for you, and how-- what was the decision process there?

MIKE LESTER: Yeah, so the IPO process is the ultimate team sport. It literally takes an army. I mean, we have had-- you know, our team has been working 20-hour days, seven days a week for months now. And then we have a whole, you know, team of outside experts and advisors doing the same.

So it's been very rewarding. It was a great experience today. We're looking forward to that first trade and looking forward to continue to deliver more access to good mental health services across the country.

- Well, Mike, appreciate you joining us today. Mike Lester, LifeStance founder and CEO. And congratulations, again.