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One Founder’s Mission to Rehabilitate America

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Pinchas Krasnjanski isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill tech founder. No fancy diploma; no Patagonia vest and khaki pants uniform; and definitely no penchant for craft beer. You can call him a bit of an eccentric – an enigmatic personality that takes command of every room. Donning colorful threads, artfully mismatched socks, and his fifth cappuccino of the day, he appears in a cloud of e-cigarette smoke at a moment’s notice, ready to charm any investor off their feet. A man who is certainly not afraid to speak his mind and live in full alignment with his truth.

The self-proclaimed black sheep of his large, Orthodox Jewish family, Pinchas has lived many lives throughout his short, 22 years. His journey took him to addiction, a brief stint in recovery, to his current gig as Founder and CEO of Soulber – a recovery app that promises to help millions of individuals struggling with addiction regain their footing and successfully reintegrate back into society.

From Talmud to tech, read on to discover how this up and coming tech CEO got his start, and learn about his aim to bring the joy of sobriety to millions struggling with addiction.

Early Life

Born to parents Rabbi Moshe and Dina Krasnjanski, Pinchas (lovingly referred to as Pini), grew up as the middle child of eight. His parents are pillars of the Montreal Jewish community, and run a synagogue in the heart of TMR, one of Montreal’s most vibrant and beautiful neighborhoods.

It became obvious to his parents early on that their son had the entrepreneurial spirit coursing through his veins. Perhaps it was his tendency to sell boxes of coffee pods, candy, and anything else he can get his hands on to his classmates during every lunch break or after-school program. Or the fact that he once had boxes of what his family proclaimed to be the “ugliest shoes in existence” delivered to their home, which he then sold off pair-by-pair to anyone he encountered in their close knit community.

Lovingly dubbed the “rebel child”, our hero was sent to a Yeshiva (an orthodox Jewish college or seminary), in New Haven, Connecticut at the tender age of 14 in order to further his Jewish education and keep him off the streets. He would often skip class to smoke cigarettes with his friends, to the chagrin of the Rabbis who were trying to actually keep him in the classroom. Pinchas capitalized on the abundance of libations that accompanied life in an all-boys seminary. He quickly began overindulging in any alcoholic beverage he can get his hands on.

But it was when he was transferred to a Yeshiva to New York when the real trouble started.

In the Throes of Addiction

The soft white underbelly of the New York drug scene sucked Pinchas in early. Shady dealings between classes turned to drug-filled parties, which eventually gave way to a lifestyle devoted to using, selling, and chasing the next high.

As his circle of friends changed, so did he. He slowly morphed into a person he didn’t recognize – one who was willing to steal, lie, and cheat to get his next fix. The strong, Jewish family values that were so deeply ingrained in Pinchas early on slowly began to crumble. He refers to it as the darkest time in his life – something nobody his age should experience.

Of course, everyone eventually hits their own version of rock bottom. It was after the untimely death of his sixth friend to overdose, that our hero was jolted to the realization that something had to change.

A Rocky Recovery Journey

Bedraggled, lost, and traumatized, Pini finally accepted his family’s help and checked himself into rehab. Mourning the loss of some of his closest friends, Pini was now confronted with the dark, painful, and terrifying reality of early sobriety.

Struggling to stay sober, he now had to adjust to the regimented life in rehab. Early mornings. Structured days. Vices that were once openly available were now forbidden. Even sugar was now off-limits. He quickly became jaded and angered by the lack of support given to him and his compatriots during the most isolating and trying times in their lives.

He began rebelling against the status quo, becoming increasingly unruly and resistant to the lack of support and unempathetic gaze of the recovery world. He openly critiqued the system, screaming out for help – but nobody seemed to care or listen. As soon as he caused a stir, he would be kicked out and re-enrolled in a different rehab, only for the cycle to repeat itself once more.

Recalling the experience, he described feeling like a foster dog being senselessly tossed from home to home. After all, the formula has been the same for decades – how does one 18 year-old kid get the nerve to tell a bunch of adults how things should run? Let him be somebody else’s problem. “To them, it didn’t really matter if we stayed sober,” he recalls. “From a business perspective, it benefited them more if we kept relapsing and coming back.”

 It was when he landed himself in his seventh treatment center that he finally experienced a complete shift in his tumultuous relationship with sobriety. Colorado-based Peaks Recovery consisted of loving, supportive staff who invested themselves fully in every patient’s journey to sobriety. They were attentive, loving, and treated every patient like family. They imbued Pini with the strength to kick his toxic habits, while giving him the clarity and professional insight to understand why he chose a destructive path in the first place.

It was a year and a half into his sobriety, deep in the throes of the Covid pandemic, that a lightbulb went off in his head.

The Birth of Soulber

Recalling his numerous failed rehab stints, plus a less than savory sober living experience, Pini knew that something had to change. Recovery is not a one size fits all – every addict’s journey to recovery is different. So why was everyone being treated with the cold indifference of a uniformed prisoner? To Pini, recovery encompassed so much more than just a brief stint in a sterile, controlled environment, followed by the occasional AA/NA meeting. Recovering addicts were lacking community, support, warmth, and understanding. No wonder relapse rates were at an all-time high. It didn’t help that treatment centers only served to profit from someone relapsing – in the rehab world, relapse simply means retention, granted one’s parents were rich enough to keep footing the bill. If a young kid living below the poverty line got himself entangled with drugs, he was often as good as dead.

The harsh reality was, your chances of overcoming recovery was only as large as your parents’ pocketbook. Pini himself was a living testament to the healing powers of familial support. But of course, not every kid had the luxury of a strong community rallying behind him. On top of all this, the devastating isolation brought on by the Covid pandemic brought opioid abuse and overdose rates to an all-time high.

Armed with the newfound wisdom of a successfully recovered addict, combined with a sound mind for business, Pini knew early on he had the potential to disrupt the recovery space for good. In fact, it seemed like he was really left with no choice – with everything quickly unraveling at the seams, the time to act was now.

Disrupting a flawed industry

In light of the pandemic, it became clear that virtual patient engagement was the new player in the healthcare space. Covid pushed the limits of remote engagement – doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and therapy sessions were relegated to Zoom calls. Screen time shot up exponentially as social isolation became mandated.

But what would become of those who were in recovery? Where would their sober community go? How will they handle being sober in complete isolation? How many more of his friends would have to succumb to addiction before something finally changed? These were the questions Pini asked as the idea for Soulber was marinating in his mind.

With the unyielding support of his sponsor Marc, along with the extensive mentorship of the community he built along his recovery journey, Pini began planting the seeds for an app that would disrupt the recovery space as we know it.

There’s always new beginning

In light of the pandemic, it became clear that virtual patient engagement was the new player in the healthcare space. Covid pushed the limits of remote engagement – doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and therapy sessions were relegated to Zoom calls. Screen time shot up exponentially as social isolation became mandated.

But what would become of those who were in recovery? Where would their sober community go? How will they handle being sober in complete isolation? How many more of his friends would have to succumb to addiction before something finally changed? These were the questions Pini asked as the idea for Soulber was marinating in his mind.

With the unyielding support of his sponsor Marc, along with the extensive mentorship of the community he built along his recovery journey, Pini began planting the seeds for an app that would disrupt the recovery space as we know it.

A spark of light in the darkness

Soulber is a beacon of hope in a world riddled with darkness. Its founder, armed with a bright team of designers and innovators, many former addicts themselves, hopes to bring to light the issues often tossed aside by the recovery industry. The app hones in on the addict’s journey through life after treatment – it aims to provide a solution to every obstacle one may encounter post-recovery.

But perhaps its greatest asset is the mastermind behind it: a founder who has weathered the storms of addiction, climbed the highest and most treacherous peaks, and successfully reached the pinnacle. Through Soulber, Pinchas Krasnjanski carries forth the message that there is hope; that we don’t have to be defined by our past; and that there’s always a new beggining.

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