“Previous in my life, I hadn’t really thought about it too much, but when it affected me, I started to get curious about mental health. I started to go to conferences, to talk to people and I came to understand that it’s a very big problem. In England, approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. Back in 2012, I found that no one was talking about this and there weren’t many accessible tools. There was something really missing in the whole machine, to help and to support others. People might do nothing about it or go the doctors. But actually most of the doctors offer you anti depressants, or a waiting list to do some therapy that lasts for a month or so. Or, in my case, my doctor recommended a website to me. It offered all the information one would need to understand what’s going on with themselves but, I did find that the website was quite difficult to get through, it was old fashion and the design make it very difficult to read.
So I decide I wanted to create something that was both engaging, effective and accessible. Because these were the 3 most important things for people who were suffering. I decided to turn it into an app, because that is one of the most engaging ways I can think of, and it’s incredibly accessible these days, everyone has a smartphone.
At this point, Accelerate Cambridge (a startup accelerator part of Cambridge University) heard about me, and gave me training and mentorship, office base and some funding for the first two years. So, right from the get go I was a sole founder, I have to say I found it relatively hard to build a team when there are little funds. But I’ve been able to connect with large mental health research institutions around England, who now support Rize, as well as a group of over a hundred therapists, who always give us their feedback and help building the concepts.”
"There was something really missing in the whole machine, to help and to support others"
“The App integrates therapeutic concepts into interactive exercises and tutorials. Helps people to understand how they’re doing, what are they symptoms, it allows them to track their mood, their activity and allow them to improve their mental well-being. It is multi-platform, you can get it for iPhone or Android, free download. Till now, you either had a mental health professional who knew what they were talking about and they wouldn’t know how to create and engaging App. On the other hand, you had people who are passionate about helping others, but they are not basing their information on large evidence base, which can be unsafe. At Rize, we integrate both.”
“One of the biggest difficulties is one that a lot of entrepreneurs can empathize with, and that’s funding. I wanted to create something fantastic and all my concentration in the first 3 years was create something that could change the world. I didn’t really care that much about making money. In that sense, talking to venture capitalist funds… (laughing) let’s say we didn’t exactly connect. We’ve raised money on crowdfunding platforms, a few loans on the way, we’ve earned cash in prizes. The funding, especially at the start, is very difficult.”
"Keep in mind that progression is always better than perfection"
“I always avoid giving general advices, because everyone is different. One thing I would say though, is keep in mind that progression is always better than perfection. And by that I mean, if you’re thinking about what to do next, just take those next steps, there is always a small step that you can take. You don’t need to give up your job, you don’t need to do anything outlandish, if you have an idea, just try out. Make the smallest version of what you can make, ask around. Whatever you do, just get going. There is always a thousand excuses not to do something, specially in the startup world. My recommendation is try.”
John says that right now, is probably the most thrilled he’s been about Rize since the beginning, and he believes that in the next 6 months, some very exciting things are going to happen! The app will be released on the 14 of December, and John asks for as much feedback as possible “you should download it and let me know what you think!”.
Social Media Specialist, Pi School