We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Kappe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aaron, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My decision to start Prairie Health came down to the vision, the team and the timing. Vision: I left my great role at LinkedIn in marketing technology partnerships to attend Stanford’s business school, with a plan to find a role at the intersection of health and technology. I wanted to make an impact on more than just a company’s bottom line, but to improve people’s lives and provide hope that people can feel healthy again. Prairie’s vision for effective and accessible mental healthcare fit that bill and then some, especially since I’ve seen mental health and medication issues affect several people close to me. Team: I first met my co-founder Maurice over coffee on campus, and I was immediately drawn to this vision that he shared. Once I met the rest of the team, I knew there was something special happening, and had to join. Timing: It’s common knowledge that starting a company can be all-consuming. With business school wrapping up and a few years before starting a family, I felt that there was no better time than the present to start a company.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My mom is a speech-language pathologist, specializing in supporting children with developmental disabilities like autism. The awareness from an early age that changes in different people’s brains could lead to dramatically different life trajectories inspired me to study and research the brain disorders by the time I made it to college. While earning my master’s researching the origins of autism and schizophrenia, I realized that I wanted a career that would take me outside the lab and into the world of technology and business, where I saw changes happening much more quickly. I interviewed at LinkedIn at the urging of one of my closest friends, and eventually accepted an offer to join. The transition from schizophrenia researcher to business associate at LinkedIn was not a natural one by any means, but ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned that the right decision isn’t always the most logical or rational decision. I learned the importance of listening to my instincts and following them. That decision led me to pursue business school, even though it’s not a great near-term economic investment, and again to start a company where success is anything but guaranteed. Hopefully, trusting my instincts again will pay off with Prairie Health.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Best time ever? It’s going to be an action-packed trip. I love being outside and doing cultural activities, so our itinerary reflects that. Our main challenge is how spread out everything is. Starting with the cultural activities, we’d of course have to hit the Griffith Observatory both for its views of the skies as well as the views all around. Both the Getty and Getty Villa are worth prioritizing. I always love being a tourist when friends visit, so we’d make a visit to the Hollywood stars, visit Olvera Street and stop by Union Station. And with clear whether and a great musician, nothing beats the Hollywood Bowl. Outdoors, I love hiking in Ranchos Palos Verdes and walking along Manhattan Beach pretending to be very knowledgeable about appropriate beach house design. Dodger Stadium is a must, especially if you pair with Highland Park Brewery beforehand. The Huntington Library and the Arboretum make great picnic spots as you learn about the art, flora and fauna that surround you. While we’re out east, we’d grab breakfast at Clocker’s Corner at the Santa Anita racetrack, where you can get great food while watching horses warm up and practice. For other restaurants, we’d have to hit Philippe’s for the incredible French dip, but I’d generally rely on the guaranteed proximity to other great spots for other food.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This one’s easy- my wife Sabrina. She has been my biggest supporter, inspiring me to push myself and take risks that I might not have otherwise, like starting this company. She’s made me a better person, by encouraging me to pause, take breaks and reflect on what’s important. I wouldn’t be where I am without her love, patience and enthusiasm for life and helping others.