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Reinventing Couples Counseling 

Adam Putterman's MMM experience made it possible to found OURS, a company financially backed by Serena Williams’ fund Serena Ventures that is trying to remove the stigma surrounding couples looking for help in their relationship.

Adam Putterman (MMM ‘19) wants to make couples counseling cool.  

Putterman is co-founder of OURS, a company designed to take the stigma out of seeking help in relationships. The idea was born while he was a student in Northwestern's MMM program, a dual-degree program between Northwestern Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management. 

Adam Putterman“I saw nearly all of my friends struggling with maintaining, growing, or repairing their relationships during such an intense time,” he said. “I interviewed hundreds of couples while I was in the MMM program and found that the two biggest issues were that everyone thought they were the only one experiencing it and nobody knew what to do next.”  

So Putterman set out to create that next step and make it an experience to be treasured rather than hidden.  

OURS is built on the premise that every couple can benefit from relationship counseling and that no pair is alone. The online platform seeks to match couples who answer a brief questionnaire with highly trained counselors for virtual appointments to help improve their relationships.  

Sessions can begin just days after signup.  

“We make it easy – and even braggable – to go to couples therapy,” Putterman said. “OURS is the fastest way to find a great couples therapist, plus a bunch of technology to make that experience even better.” 

The data backs up the important role OURS can play.   

Approximately half of all married couples seek couples counseling and, according to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the success rate is around 70 percent. Another statistic, from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, states that 90 percent of couples who complete therapy with a highly trained couples therapist report an increase in their emotional well being.    

“Most people think you go to counseling when you have a problem,” Putterman said. “Many go proactively to protect and grow their relationship.”  

But that doesn’t mean finding good couples therapy is easy.   

As Putterman was putting the MMM program’s central tenet of human-centered design to the test while earning his degree, OURS co-founder Jessica Holten was doing similar work in pursuit of her MBA at Stanford. She also sought counseling to help in her relationship. 

“After calling and emailing dozens, no one got back to her,” Putterman said.  

When the co-founders first met, it was a study in serendipity or, as Putterman put it, “borderline shock.”  

“It felt like we had each snuck into each other’s workspaces and stolen language,” he said. “We were just perfectly aligned on not only what we were building, but also how it should be built.” 

OURS has already helped thousands of couples since launching in 2019, Putterman said. The company has also raised nearly $7 million in seed money, including funding from retired tennis star Serena Williams’ fund Serena Ventures. 

The MMM program provided not only the idea for OURS but also the lessons to make it a  success. Putterman said the program’s small cohort size and cross-disciplinary education were instrumental in helping him lay the foundation to build OURS. Aspects of what he learned can be seen throughout the company.  

“We have an obsession with human-centered design, customer experience, and delight that makes us stand out in an otherwise sterile industry,” he said. “Intentional interviewing, observation, and testing have been a panacea.”  

He encouraged prospective students to follow in his footsteps and join the MMM program – but not to rely only on the in-class education.  

“Have a personal project that you’re working on at all times,” he said. “You learn so much while you’re in the program, and it’s easy to forget a lot of it if you’re not actively applying it to something once the class ends.”  


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