Bonobos’ Andy Dunn Advocates for Founders to Disclose Mental Health Diagnoses to VCs

**Mental Health Challenges in Entrepreneurship: Insights from Andy Dunn**

**Andy Dunn’s Entrepreneurial Journey**

Andy Dunn, the founder of menswear company Bonobos, made headlines when he sold the company to Walmart for a staggering $310 million in 2018. However, after leaving Walmart in 2020 to focus on his new ventures Red Swan and Pie, Dunn opened up about his mental health struggles as a founder and leader. He spoke candidly about the impact of entrepreneurship on mental well-being during a private lunch panel at Fortune’s Founders Forum event. Dunn believes that even individuals with a “clean bill of mental health” will face acute moments of mental distress throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

**Dunn’s Battle with Bipolar I Disorder**

Dunn’s mental health journey began during his undergraduate years at Northwestern University when he experienced his first manic episode and was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder. In a subsequent manic episode, he was even charged with assault as he ran through New York City nude, prompting him to disclose his diagnosis to Walmart during the acquisition process. Walmart conducted a thorough evaluation of Dunn’s mental wellness, enlisting the expertise of the former head of psychiatry at the FBI. Ultimately, they concluded that Dunn’s therapy and medication regimen made Bonobos a worthwhile acquisition and allowed him to continue leading the company within Walmart.

**The Sale of Bonobos and Dunn’s Exit from Walmart**

Interestingly, in April of this year, Walmart sold Bonobos to brand management firm WHP Global and clothing company Express Inc. for a combined $75 million, a significant decrease from the original acquisition price. WHP paid $50 million for the Bonobos brand, while Express acquired the operating assets and business liabilities for $25 million. The reasons behind this decrease in valuation and sale are unclear, and it is uncertain how Dunn’s leadership and exit from Walmart influenced the outcome.

**Dunn’s Current Roles and Mental Health Advocacy**

Following his departure from Walmart, Dunn assumed the position of founding venture capitalist at Red Swan and founded social media company Pie. As someone with three successful ventures under his belt, he believes that founders should disclose their mental health diagnoses to investors around six weeks after closing deals. According to Dunn, this disclosure should be accompanied by an explanation of the steps being taken to address the issue. Moreover, he recommends extending these disclosures to co-founders and employees to foster a culture of accountability and healthy relationships within the workplace.

**The Importance of Open Communication and Support**

Dunn emphasizes the importance of regular communication about personal struggles within the company. He suggests that founders take a brief moment each year to openly discuss any concurrent personal challenges with their teams. This practice not only normalizes the act of disclosure but also helps create a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, Dunn proposes the implementation of a mental health stipend that goes beyond standard health insurance offerings. This additional support can contribute to a positive corporate culture focused on mental well-being.

In conclusion, Andy Dunn’s entrepreneurial journey has been marked by both success and mental health challenges. Through his experiences, he has become an advocate for open communication, support, and accountability when it comes to mental health in the workplace. By normalizing mental health discussions and providing additional resources, founders can create a healthier and more productive work environment.

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