This 30-year-old COO quit a career in private equity and a starring role at Pinterest to work in wellness tech after finding purpose in Buddhism

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  • 30 year-old Hanna Madrigan is COO at emerging wellness tech startup Wellset but had an interesting journey to her current role. 
  • Madrigan first worked in private equity, then joined Pinterest, but eventually quit after coming close to burnout.
  • Madrigan took time out to travel and practice yoga before spending time at a Buddhist monastery which helped give her the belief that wellness was a major industry and set her on a path to join Wellset. 
  • Wellness is already a $4.2 trillion market worldwide and is growing each year. 
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Burnout is a term regularly bandied around in an age where emphasis on work-life balance is higher than ever, but difficult to achieve.

Finding purpose in life can extend to work and sometimes it is not the expected path that has the most reward. That was the experience of Hanna Madrigan, now COO at buzzy wellness startup Wellset, who quit roles in private equity and subsequently Pinterest to find a better calling. 

As a 22-year-old Madrigan was an investment associate at Boston-based private equity firm Liberty Mutual Investments, but despite initially enjoying people’s surprised reactions when learning of her high-achieving role, it began to take its toll. 

“It was a cut-throat culture, with little room for stepping outside the box,” she told Business Insider in an interview. “I had never liked the taste of coffee, but then once I realized it was an acceptable break from the office I quickly became a coffee aficionado. I’ll never forget those walks to the coffee shop — my head fuzzy, my body moving but it was like I wasn’t there.”

Madrigan’s mental health began to suffer as a result. One in five adults in the US suffer from some form of mental health issue which can cause difficulties at work. She opted to leave finance for tech and found herself at Pinterest, working in the company’s founding partnerships team.  

“I spent nearly three amazing years at Pinterest. But over time, I found myself starting to struggle, I was exhausted and running on fumes,” Madrigan added. “So I began to double down on my wellness practices: I was practicing yoga like religion, cooking my meals, and meditating. It moved the needle, but not enough.”

The next step was more drastic yet. Wary of burnout and feeling confused she opted to take a brave step, selling her possessions, quitting a dream job and leaving LA on a one-way ticket to travel solo aged 28. 

“I realized that life is not linear, and creating the space to re-center and experience life in different ways was exactly what I needed. I studied Buddhist practices at Thích Nhất Hạnh’s monastery, worked on organic farms, and practiced yoga and meditation across the world.”

Wellness is already a $4.2 trillion market worldwide and is growing each year. But Madrigan still took over 130 meetings before settling on Wellset to ensure that she made the best decision for her health and wellbeing. 

She hopes that her own journey through the up and down world of employment can help allow others to find time to put themselves first in an attempt to find balance.

“My hope was to find work with kind and smart people whose north star was to create a positive social impact,” she said. “So instead of going through the traditional job hunting process of submitting my resume to different postings, I decided to meet with inspired people who then introduced me to other like-minded people within their networks, which quickly began a ripple effect.”

Through that process she met WellSet founder and CEO Tegan Bukowski and executive chairman Sky Meltzer. Not only did WellSet tick Madrigan’s boxes but it’s a growing market, according to the Global Wellness Institute.

“Similar to platforms like Airbnb, we’ve created the first centralized marketplace to seamlessly find, book, and recommend wellness practitioners,” said Madrigan. “We want to make wellness easier and accessible for everyone by putting credible brands, leaders, and recommended practitioners in one online community.”

WellSet is in the process of closing a pre-seed round with investors including Kleiner Perkins and other backers.

The company claims to have some 6,000 wellness practitioners signed up to the platform, which is slated to launch in Los Angeles in early 2020. 

SEE ALSO: Europe’s top VCs pick out 19 hot startups that are challenging the status quo

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