SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL (April 10, 2023) – National mental health company Ellie Mental Health will enter the local market, thanks to three community leaders and entrepreneurs who are dedicated to making mental health services more accessible for those who need it. The first of three planned franchise locations will begin taking new clients in April in the Tanglewood Professional Center – near Blake Hospital – in Bradenton (5801 21st Ave. S.).
The local franchise partners are entrepreneur and former nonprofit executive Gray Videnka; Women’s Resource Center President and CEO Ashley Brown; and Franchise Coach and author Rick Bisio. Videnka is serving as the Managing Partner, handling the day-to-day operations, and Brown and Bisio are functioning as investment partners with guidance provided based on their respective areas of expertise.
Ellie was founded in 2015 by Erin Pash and Kyle Keller, who opened the first Ellie clinic in Minnesota. Since then, the Ellie family has continued to grow with multiple clinics in Minnesota and a swiftly-growing number of franchises across the country. Ellie was founded on the principle of destigmatizing mental health. The mental health industry is full of barriers; the company has made it its goal to fill the gap and find innovative ways to break down these barriers for the communities it serves.
The founders are committed to finding entrepreneurs who have a personal connection to mental health and are passionate about providing safe and welcoming environments to ensure that clients feel comfortable during their sessions, whether they are in-person or telehealth. Mindfulness is a key area of focus for Ellie and will be for the local franchise offices as well.
Longtime Sarasota resident Videnka has experience as a business analyst in the financial arena, a role she held in Manhattan and continued as a consultant after moving to Florida. She spent nine years with nonprofit organization Goodwill Manasota, overseeing various departments; she was elevated to vice president in her latter years there. She is a paid professional for Landmark Worldwide and leads transformational seminars as a Seminar Leader. She is the CEO of a startup called Plan2Play – a technology company whose mission is to connect people to activities through technology. She also currently serves as the board chair of the Women’s Resource Center and has volunteered at various non-profit organizations.
Ashley Brown is the CEO of the Women’s Resource Center. She is known for being a strong advocate for women, developing collaborative relationships and is committed to creating a region where women and their families can thrive. She has numerous community leadership involvements to her credit, including Leadership Florida, serving as a board member for Sarasota Women’s Alliance, Career Source Suncoast, and past chair of RCLA Town Hall, among others.
Franchise Coach Rick Bisio has been focused on the business of franchising for over a quarter century, utilizing a unique approach focused on improved decision making. He had many small businesses in his youth, founding his first full-time business at the age of 25. After selling that business, he spent several years both teaching and studying, earning his Master’s degree in International Business in the early 1990s. While studying for his Master’s, he was introduced to the franchise business model, a chance encounter that changed his life. He is now one of the most respected franchise consultants in the U.S. and continues to buy, sell and invest in businesses as well as serving as an advisor to others. He is a best-selling author and a regular speaker about business ownership and franchising.
“Our practitioners will be part of our local team, community-based and available to our patients,” said Videnka. “When someone’s mental health is suffering, getting the care they need should be as easy to access as possible. We look forward to introducing this new mental health offering in our community and breaking down some of the barriers that are keeping our neighbors from getting the help they need.”
Beyond mental healthcare for individuals, the franchise partners are considering offering online seminars, free events, and services for high-stress professions such as first responders, healthcare workers, teachers and more. Other efforts – such as bereavement support groups and teacher seminars – are also being weighed.
Appointments are now being taken for patients, with client visits starting on April 24. For more about Ellie Mental Health, visit elliementalhealth.com or call 941-778-4888.
About Ellie Mental Health
Ellie Mental Health is a millennial-made and owned mental health agency that is rapidly expanding across the nation. They are transforming the culture of mental healthcare by providing creative solutions and using innovative thinking to reduce barriers in accessing mental health services. For more information about Ellie Mental Health, visit elliementalhealth.com.