In this episode with Matthew Vamplew, we learn what it takes to launch a mental health tech startup during a pandemic, the value of grant funding, and how to adapt your proposition in response to the market and opportunity.

Episode Links

Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn

Paranimo Website

Episode Transcript

Matthew Todd
Hi. My name is Matthew Todd, and welcome to Inside the Scale Up. This is the podcast for founders, executives in tech, looking to make an impact and learn from their peers within the tech business, we lift the lid on tech businesses, interview leaders and following their journey from startup to scale up and beyond covering everything from developing product market fit, funding and fundraising models to value proposition structure and growth marketing.

We learn from their journey so that you can understand how they really work, the failures, the success the lessons along the way, so that you can take their learnings and apply them within your own startup or scale up and join the ever growing list of high-growth UK SaaS businesses. Hey, so good morning, man. Welcome to the podcast.

Matthew Vamplew
Good morning, Matt. Nice to see you.

Matthew Todd
Yea, so we hvae two Matt’s on the call today. So we’ve got Matt Vamplew, who is the CEO of Paranimo. As always, with a guest on the podcast, I like them to introduce their companies. And we’ll we’ll start there. So Matt, tell us what is what is Paranimo.

Matthew Vamplew
So Paranimo is a mental health technology company. We’re based in Bristol, but we do operate UK wise. And we work with organizations to better support employees mental health. So we do that through two ways.

One is supporting staff the matching them to the right mental health support. The other way is through helping organizations better manage their cultural wellbeing.

And we do that in a number of ways using technology and matching to mental health providers to do that. And we work specifically with companies in the software SME space.

Matthew Todd
Awesome. Fantastic. Thank you very much. Well dig into more of the details as to what that exactly looks like in practice and how you got to that point.

But I think maybe a good place to start is before Paranimo. What was your background? I think that’d be kind of interesting to hear.

Matthew Vamplew
So, when I graduated in 2012, I joined a consultancy firm Cognizant, and I was there working in the emerging technology team. But I was always focused on working on the insurance industry.

I then moved into being a management consultant to set up the innovation practice there, again, working with insurance companies, and then moved into drove after as innovation manager in my own right, working for an insurance company to incubate and accelerate new ideas with our FinTech and insure tech startups.

And that was to launch proof proof of concepts and do lots of different tests and learns, and working with startups.

And seeing how they work was just really exciting for me, and I always wanted to do my own company anyway. And being in the space of innovation has always been really of interest to me. And that was kind of set a great foundation for me to do power aneema With when I came up with the idea in 2018.

Matthew Todd
Awesome and was so what was it that that led to that idea then?

Matthew Vamplew
So in 2018, I went through quite like a rough spot, I was in London. And I just thought, you know, I could do some getting access to some sort of therapy. And I went on the NHS, and I found it really inaccessible. And it took a long time to find somebody, a three month waiting list, I just wasn’t prepared to do it.

Then I thought, Okay, let’s look at getting some private support. The things when you do that you you get lost, it’s very complicated to find the right support. You go to different directories. When you find a directory, a lot of mental health providers, whether that’s a therapist, a counselor, a hypnotherapist, say they help you with every different type of problem that you can have.

The trouble is, how do you find someone that’s relevant to what you need help with? How would you know if you get on with them? And you can’t really judge anything other than do they take a couple of boxes? Are they the right price for you? And do they look nice in their profile picture? Yeah, that complexity I just found just made me feel more anxious, even more stressed, for the very thing I was looking to get out with in the first place.

So that’s when I thought hang on, what if there was a platform that could match people to the right mental health support? that’s right for them wherever they are. So location was taken out of the out of the equation, apparently was evolved a lot since that we can get into that in the following questions, but really the fundamental was, could there be a way of reducing the complexity and increasing accessibility to the right mental health support for people anywhere in the UK? And that was the premise of the idea.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, so very much born of personal kind of experience in the lack of solutions to those kind of problems, then. That’s right. And at what stage did you then decide to make a a business out of that was it you know, put everything in and go all in immediately? Or was there a bit of a process before you got to that point?

Matthew Vamplew
So it was one of those ideas that I couldn’t stop thinking about? And I thought, what if there isn’t anything else? exist the matches people to the right spot, I couldn’t find any. And, you know, there’s always these dating websites that match. There’s other ways you can match a different, you know, different support providers and other areas, but there wasn’t for mental health, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the idea.

And I remember speaking, in January 2019, to a really well known angel investor, about the idea, and he said, it’s a great idea, if you really care about it, you can’t sort of think about it, then you should, then you should pursue it. And then I then spoke to my co founder, Dan, I said, Dan, you want to come join who’s doing a PhD in Neuroscience at the time, and he went to get some CBT therapy himself, we thought together, let’s, let’s do this. And so he was doing this, after the end of his PhD, I was still working full time.

My last job was innovation manager at DHS. And that was useful for me, because I could de risk, you know, jumping two feet in here, I was able to use my experience of doing proof of concepts, testing lands, with speaking to therapists, and people that had support to get both sides of the of the platform and do that whilst I have my full time job, and then come to the end of the year.

So after we formally founded in May 2019, as a limited company, then, at the end of the year, I had the chance to take voluntary redundancy for my company, which was amazing as I thought I want to do this, do this company anyway. And I remember applying for other jobs, and thinking it doesn’t feel right, like I have to do this company can’t stop thinking about it.

And that’s when I said it, right? I’m just gonna take you’re done. That’s the money, I’m going to commit full time to doing it so very much December 2019. To January 2020, I was doing this full time.

Matthew Todd
Yeah. And how do you you go about then taking that kind of passion for, you know, solving that problem. And you know, identifying a clear need a gap in the market to, to validating it to make making sure it was a problem that others experienced, that was one worth worth solving.

I imagine given your experience you, you had a few different approaches, strategies you use be good to kind of hear more more about what you did.

Matthew Vamplew
So one is obviously I knew that problem myself. And that’s a great place to start. But it’s not the place you end, what you want to do is then talk to people that are representative of the solution, and the people that experience problems in the area that you that you care about.

So for me, I’ve done a lot of customer testing in previous jobs. So for me, it was a case of cold calling, you have plucked up the courage to cocoa therapists have never spoken before, and try and pitch to them the idea. And I asked them if they’d be open to chat. Yeah, and there was always a great, great guy called Martin, we’re not we don’t talk as much now. But he was the first therapist that actually came around to my mum’s place when Dan came over. And we sat together around the table. And I presented a PowerPoint presentation about the concept. And he really, really liked it.

And that from there that gave me the confidence to go talk to more therapists, as well as being introduced to people that I didn’t know that had challenges with mental health themselves. And they even got therapy or they had wanted to get it and asking about their experience looking and the stresses and how they found and what they’d like to like to be better.

And always believe in don’t fall for the the mum effect, which is, you know, if you asked your mom about your idea of bigger love it because they know that you want to speak to people that don’t know you. They’re not your immediate friends, they’re like friends or friends is good people, you don’t even better to get real feedback to the to the problem, then you take that feedback, you then iterate on it, you you don’t have to build a sort of tech solution, you can do a paper prototype, which is what we did, and then co founder downwards and starting to build more tech and on the side.

Now just going back and forth, getting getting user feedback, up until the point that we had enough data. And then around that appointment where we started talking to you.

Matthew Todd
Yeah. So yeah, I guess on that early journey, obviously, you mentioned it’s matching clients to therapists or counselors is essentially a marketplace. There are two sides to that there’s the supplier and the consumer. So it sounds like you’re saying you started with the supplier, but the therapist first is that right?

Matthew Vamplew
That’s right. So I had to make a judgment call, which is do you put and it’s a challenge at marketplaces face. I did a lot of research around it as well. Is it is, you know, which way do you start? Do you get suppliers on first? Then you’ve got a challenge of incentivizing them to come on first. But then if they’re there, then they’ve got customers to then match to customers match to them, or do you get customers on first incentivize them and then get suppliers engaged because there’s customers there? There’s a bit of a challenge which one you do? I thought it was best that we do suppliers Last. So we started to get a couple of people interested on that. But I can talk a bit about the grant funding. Now, is that something you’d like to save to later?

Matthew Todd
No, I think it’d be good to, to get into the grant funding at one kind of question. Before we get we do, though, obviously, the therapists are coming on board, you know, presumably, they’re wanting more clients off the back of that.

But I can imagine many might have been a little bit fearful if there wasn’t a client base already on there, thinking, well, am I going to join and end up losing clients to other therapists and counselors that are on the platform was that, you know, an objection you encountered or a fear that they had, or they

Matthew Vamplew
No, alot of the therapists that said, yeah, when you launch this properly, will, will come on board, because they, they liked the fact that we took in their feedback to the solution. And one of the things that they face is, there’s not only the challenge of when you’re a customer looking for support, you’ve got the complexity, accessibility challenges.

But as a therapist, a phrase I’ve heard a lot was, I’m a therapist, not a marketer, yeah, was a big challenge for them. And also, they like to work with people that they can help the most. So we had, we started to develop the matching platform, that meant that not only because clients get matched to the right therapist, the therapist because they get matched to the right clients. And that was something that was really useful to both sides of it.

And then the idea that we could also have the platform as a way to if, if clients if Sorry, sorry, therapist wanted to come on, they can invite existing clients. And that was a vision that that we had after we won grant funding. And then we also got into the national counselling society, which came as a bit of a later day. But that’s, that’s related to the grant funding.

Matthew Todd
Yeah. So go into the grant funding, then what? We’ve had other people on the podcast talking about grant funding as well. But how, how you were you able to use that for Paranimo? What was the what was the project? What was the proposition? And how did that work?

Matthew Vamplew
So we got sent the grant. So we started working with business West, fantastic business support organization in in Bristol, but they also work in Southwest as well.

And they they said he has a great grant coming out is COVID-19 business response. So COVID is well and truly hit by this point. It was March, April, sort of time. And we’ve got March time we’ve got sent the grant. I thought, Okay, well, let’s, let’s apply. So we’ve got enough feedback from the customer testing, we’ve got therapists who said that they would get involved. Yes, we need funding to build and funding goes a challenge with a startup.

So I spent about two, two and a half weeks flat out every single day, working just during the grant. And then we sent that in, and then there was 8500, applications, 800 places, and we got pigs, which is incredible. And I felt like oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe that we’ve that we’d actually got chosen and to get the funding to do that was just just incredible. And that enabled us to take from just an idea and a prototype that is encoded by Dan. self teaching himself.

And obviously we’re talking started talking to you around that point, to then having funding to enable the development of a more robust therapist side of the platform, which will enable video support, so doesn’t matter where people are, they can get the right support over video, and the chance for them to invite their existing clients as well and administration platform in terms of the actual project.

So the grant funding was to build the foundations of the very platform, I was talking about the idea that therapists lost a lot of business due to COVID-19. So they needed support accessing clients, a lot of them felt quite worried about the technology side.

So I’ve given them a solution that could help them to come on seamlessly to work their existing clients, and get new clients was really attractive. And it was just a good social good cause to do given the mental change of COVID-19 was pretty big. And that was essentially the basis for the project.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, so it sounded like that was then a good you know, obviously COVID Being a very negative thing, you know, net negative, but it sounds like actually, it really they highlighted a need for remote counseling because there wasn’t really any other option at that time.

Matthew Vamplew
That’s right, exactly. And the winning of the grant was real big stamp of approval. So I then took a punt and I messaged the national counseling societies that third biggest Mental Health Association in the UK So essentially all the different mental health, so it’s not a regulated market. So different mental health associations essentially set standards that their members adhere to. And there’s different associations.

And when I presented parent email to them, they thought this is great, really intuitive idea of just got grant funding, they want to change the way and increase and increase accessibility and reduce complexity to the right support for people. Yeah, we’re big therapists organization, we will work with you and partner with you and help seize your platform with therapists from our membership base, which is just incredible. And even today, they still are a very good partner of ours.

Matthew Todd
Sounds like really, that grant was valuable. They’re not just in enabling the funding to build the platform. But also, as you say, that stamp of approval that enabled you to forge some very useful partnerships.

Matthew Vamplew

Matthew Todd
So I guess at the end of that kind of process, then obviously, I have some knowledge of this already, as well. But it sounds like that kind of gets you to the point of having a platform that’s good enough. And a platform with enough access to the therapist and counselor, side of that marketplace, how and I know the proposition has shifted, and we’ll get into that. But how did you then approach getting the clients on the platform to match to those therapists,

Matthew Vamplew
So we were only speaking to different people through like referrals, to try and get them on board and on board of interested. And that was quite a slow process.

And I remember at the same time applying for another Innovate UK grant as well. And I thought I’ve successful on the first grant, let’s apply for this other one. And it was called the Sustainable Innovation Fund. And it was for innovative ideas that were doing economic and social goods. And we had funding to do essentially the first part of the platform.

So I thought, let’s try and get funding for the second part of the platform to build out the matching side. Really make it a scalable solution and get some marketing investment from that need to put towards promotional videos and content. And that was pretty close. Anyway, so I applied. And yeah, I mean, won that grant, as well. So that was 85,000 pounds. And well, the project was about Yeah, it was 85,000 pounds asset.

So in total, we’ve got about 150,000 pounds in total to date of grant funding, including an extension to that grant that we want as well. And that was initially gave us the confidence to launch UK wide with a platform that was built and then get the PR around it get people interested to sign and we got quite a few signups with that. And during that project, we also did a pilot study.

And this certainly started to shift slowly from the b2c market to speak to everybody, we have access to the right support to their move into through accent opportunity into charities, because the pilot study was with a charity called Karis wheelchair, still a still partner with us today. And they I got introduced to them through a contact at the outsource company that we use. And Doris which was just fantastic and very, very useful. And they were going to fund support.

And we started to tweak the platform in a way that they could essentially fund support the people that they care about and manage the funding of that through what we call a scheme mental health therapy scheme. And that was the purpose of the pilot study was to show the value of our matching get three months worth of data to show a any decrease or hopefully decrease in certain mental health indicators or depressions, stress anxiety. And if people found the right match, and the result of that was that 93% of people found the right match. And as about a 40% decrease roughly for stress, depression anxiety over three months. Now, whilst this is obviously not a proper, like peer reviewed study, this is a good indication for us that we’re on the right track. And I’ll say the market feedback and the case study material isn’t hugely great. And the ability for us to go okay, well, we’re on the right track. We’ve got some customers and we are making some some revenue.

Now let’s put our heads down on the project ended in in April to then so that was April 2021. To then think about getting investment and finishing up some of the tech stuff based on the feedback that we got and the new focus on a more b2b angle working with charities because we soon learned when you’re trying to work with b2c that the general public marketing budget wins.

And when you’re starting, you don’t have that ability because it’s hard to get known. When there’s so much noise as it were so going and going on a b2b model where it’s one to many seemed the most logical approach. We started pursuing charities then, and then get ready for investment. And of course, we pivoted a bit after that, as well.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, so I guess before we get to that pivot, then from b2c to b2b, you mentioned the kind of the marketing costs, I guess the cost of acquiring those clients was pretty high. If they didn’t already, you didn’t have that brand awareness and level of, of trust already.

Matthew Vamplew
That’s right published. Exactly. cost of acquisition, ads, ads, the king, when it comes to this sort of thing, you’ve just had to look at other people in the eyes, big American capacitors that are in the space. Yeah, it’s difficult. While I was focusing on a b2b angle where you could speak to one charity and, and they have access to many people, and they they fund, that’s what they do fund support, seeing the best approach for us.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, and I can imagine that obviously, charities are coming, as you said, they’re willing to fund the sessions. But also, you’re getting in front of an audience that has that need at that particular time was reaching people be to see you don’t know whether they actually need support at that time or not.

Matthew Vamplew
That’s right. Yeah.

Matthew Todd
So you mentioned kind of another evolution, if you like, or iteration beyond that initial charity, kind of customer type. I guess how and why has that that changed since then.

Matthew Vamplew
So when we started to look for, got ourselves investment ready, started to realize that charities whilst they are ever need, which is good, often to work with, they’re quite bureaucratic and quite slow. And the pace at which he wanted to grow wasn’t matched by the needs they were presenting. Yeah.

So we thought, okay, well, let’s, let’s have a look at what else we’d be focusing on and giving COVID-19 The huge interest in employee mental health and well being. And the cost of that is huge for companies like software companies. And we know that the current models of support are unfair in the way that they present themselves. So based on his scenes usage of mental health support, such as the employee assistance programs, rather than through Pay As You Go, and a more reasonable subscription price to access.

Matthew Todd
What how do those existing programs tend to typically work.

Matthew Vamplew
So they tend to work on telephone counseling bases, for example, as well as other types of support isn’t specific to mental health could give vouchers can be things like that, or under the umbrella of employee assistance program, they would assume a usage in an organization is generally about four to six sessions of support per employee, the reality usage is not that high, it can be about 5%, five to 10% of staff actually uses support. So the organization is paying for support isn’t being used.

And the Employee Assistance Program is incentivized not to encourage too much usage, because the pricing, so it becomes a bit of that of an unfair, dynamic, really. And we thought this has to be short, I think what what we do is I think could be of interest to to SMEs, those that have quite a high cost of absence. Because when you’re a small company, now, if you’ve got a 1000s, and 1000s of employees, you know, one person taking time off can be absorbed. When you’ve got 50 employees, and five take time off, that’s 10% of your staff gone.

The absence is quite high and focusing on tech companies, because salaries are high, therefore absence is high. It’s a high cost associated with it. Because salaries are so high. And given a lot of tech revenue, for example, through through sales and business development has a huge opportunity cost for people taking time out of their stressed and anxious if they’re in sales last, last pipeline, for example. And we thought this was a really good industry to target and given me our tech company ourselves, it seemed to align very well. And as we started to evolve our thinking in terms of what we do as a as a solution, we wanted to move from a more reactive way of doing things.

What I mean by that is, we match people to the right support when people know they need support. But we wanted to get more proactive and preventative in terms of people getting to the point where they go gosh, I could I could do talking to someone or feeling stressed and anxious, could we not find a way to look at how people are behaving in an organizational context within also the context of remote working and the new hybrid way of working and what that means for culture, what that means from employee mental health.

And through that thought process, we then decided that actually You know, targeting software tech SMEs, talking to HR people managers was the best target for us, particularly with a new focus on this more preventative, proactive solution that we call cultural well being

Matthew Todd
I’ve seen so it sounds like then suddenly very differentiated from that employee assistance program on those EAP is, which is you say, you’re basically prepaying based on assumed usage, that then doesn’t turn out to be true. And they’re incentivized not to give supports?

Matthew Vamplew
But yeah, so I’m wondering, can we can you explain a little bit about the pricing model, then that allows you to not do the same things that the Ps are doing, but still provide and want to provide support when it’s needed, but then also, you know, bring that proactive element you described into as well? How does that then work from a customer point of view and pricing your business model.

So are two solutions that we call one personal well being, and the model was still the same one, I’ll get into cultural wellbeing in a second. But what we do is we do a subscription fee. And then we do a pay as you go, usage model for sessions used. And organizations and personal well being can set budgets and use use criteria for their staff. So for example, it could be no one organization says we’re going to have all of our staff get three sessions each.

And that’s one session a week or one session a month, it’s up to them up to three sessions. And our budget will fund up to that point, and that is our ceiling. So it gives organizations the flexibility to have control over their budget, but also knowing that when people need support, that they are going to get matched to the right support. So it’s we’ve reduced the complexity as we wanted to do.

And we’ve increased accessibility for people that want to get matched to the right spot. And the better the match, the better the therapeutic outcome. And I said we worked out is as relevance to need personality fit and availability to see quickly.

So that’s the personal well being size, again, very different to the way that employee assistance programs, do things because they price on, you know Pay As You Go assume usage.

Matthew Todd
And they don’t do any kind of matching just unavailability who’s next to chat was not solving that original problem that you encountered No, exactly. actually wanting to speak to the right person.

Matthew Vamplew
Exactly, exactly. Now, cultural well being is quite a big step further, which says, Okay, what if we could plug into organizations, digital tools, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, for example, and better understand worker behavior through frequency of messages, times that they’re working, when those messages get get sent, looking at sentiment, rather than content, it’s very important to better understand how people are feeling how teams are working, who’s working late, because that’d be indications of burnout, and then providing this as a more managed service to organizations.

So we can provide an account manager to them to interpret understand that data, so you get the understand side of things. So that’s one part of the solution, the understand part, the other part is support. So matching people to the right support based upon the data of knowledge that they’ve acquired. So that’s pretty much using a lot of the tools from the personal wellbeing solution anyway.

And then the last part is we measure so we’ve been measuring outcomes of that intervention, but also looking at getting, asking employees how they’re feeling alongside what we can observe, observe through the digital tools, squat, a well rounded, managed service solution that again, it can be blows out the water, the very hands off Employee Assistance Program solution that is not bespoke, or tailored to your organization.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, certainly sounds like a very differentiated proposition very proactive. And, I know, we’ve, you know, in quite short fashion, kind of talk through the, the iterations, the pivot points to get then I think, in explaining it now talking it through, it sounds very logical, kind of A to B to C to D, this is the learning that led to us doing this. That was the learning that led to us doing that.

But as co founder CEO, how, how do you commit to those decisions? Because there’s always a different direction, you could go at any point, you could always double down on any one of those pivots and decide not to, to make those changes. Yeah. How did you? How did you find those decisions? Were they easy to make? Were they difficult?

Matthew Vamplew
I think definitely speaking, speaking to us, Dan, to get different perspectives is really important. You know, there’s decisions I don’t make in isolation.

But then it’s also talking to people like what I’ve seen talking to that example, customers, understanding what their pain points are, and also intuition quite hard. To quantify what it felt like also that the right place to be the right move that the answers were there.

If I don’t feel intuitively like it’s the right thing to do, I find it very hard to push through with that decision. So I think as intuition is very important to me, there’s kind of a sum of experience and asking the right questions with the people that you’re going to be the solution impacting.

So for example, I spoke to different HR people, managers in our sector, to find out what their their pain points are. And, you know, with our assumptions, a lot of them being right, some of them being wrong, but more often than not, right. That gave me the confidence that actually yeah, this felt like the right thing to do. But also, it’s logically the right thing for us to do.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, no, that makes makes sense. So I guess in terms of, you know, parent email, then in the direction and the vision you now see, for it, ultimately, kind of where do you see power Lemo ending up.

Matthew Vamplew
So we’ve just recently raised investment from worth capital. So that’s our first round of private investment. And I’m still actively taking on more angel investment now. So just try and hit our 150,000 pound target. So now that we’ve got in that investment very much, there isn’t an exit strategy. So we’re looking at four to five years time. That’s that’s the ambition.

So to be acquired by a health care or health insurer. So with that in mind, there’s there’s a plan to get there. So that that involves building up our number of users and people within our beachhead market. So that’s the software, software SMEs, and then also working out if we can get access to NHS pilot study, that’s going to be very slow. And we have got to be reviewed of clinical interest by the West of England health academic science network, which are an organization that sit in between the private sector and the NHS NHS Trusts, okay, so that’s fantastic for us.

And that’s going to be a very slow process, it would be a great win for us to have to use parent emails, employee, frontline mental health staff support tool, but it’s not the be all and end all for our exit strategy. So the ambition is to work once you’ve got enough credibility through usage to start working with insurance. So as a proposition enhancement tool, so insurance and the health care space, obviously, my background is insurance, one of the big things they like now is the idea of insurance as a service. And the big thing of that is rather than when customers only talk to you as an insurer when they buy insurance, and when they claim there’s no relationship built between the two.

So the idea now is for insurers to think about how can you build a relationship with your customer was also mitigating claims. When you were a health insurer, for example, or critical illness, or income protection insurance, that’s covering things like mental health time off work, things like that, having a claims prevention tool, such as parent email, as part of the insurance policy, I believe, intuition says it’s a will be of interest, and it’s something I really want to test out. But I’ve seen it done before with other products. And getting a pilot study with an insurer like that will give us a huge boost towards our goal of being acquired by an insurer because if they like you, they would rather acquire than build themselves as a sort of build, but build partner acquire model that they have to make that they have to decide more often than not, they will partner and then acquire. And that’s the sort of route I can see us taking.

But of course, if we can start making traction within the the NHS sector, then we open ourselves up even further to healthcare and ensure providers like Bupa, for example, that may maybe yes, in the future, as well. And the plan to get there is really through growing out our beachhead market and then moving into wider areas of mental health needs just just outside outside software companies. Yeah, we start to increase our footprint, we get bigger organizations, and work towards that four to five year target.

Matthew Todd
I see. So it sounds like then there are other products like insurance and health care products that those organ organizations already purchased that don’t exactly overlap with, obviously what para aneema was doing, but they’re very, very closely related. So actually, it sounded the combined proposition could could be more powerful than each of them individually. Is that kind of what you’re saying? And where you see?

Matthew Vamplew
Yeah, exactly. A really good example is in the motor insurance world. The idea of using telematics to track what cars are going was the big thing. And insurers using that data to better understand policyholders behavior to then price better. And now shows I went through a process of buying the very companies that they partnered with to provide that service. So health insurers do the same.

So Fitbit is working well with vitality to use data. So they work very well together. And I see that being a root for us. What we do, particularly for insurance that customers are businesses, so insurers that provide business insurance, and that sort of health, health and kind of income protection and critical illness space.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, I see. So. So basically, yeah, you mentioned the investment that you’ve you’ve just recently closed, and how are you looking to utilize that investment, then, you know, to, to kind of head on that pathway of that, executing that vision, you mentioned, you know, traction getting more users? Is that the priority now?

Matthew Vamplew
Yes,very, very much. So. So I’ve been clear to the investors as well that we have some tidying up of technology to do for our personal well being solution, and flesh out some of the some some other parts of our culture wellbeing solution, as well as recruiting a business development manager, or you’re going to be looking at now that budgets been freed up, because we’re taking more a discrete project based approach to tech development, rather than hiring a full time developers that’s free that budget to look at a more as a marketing executive to help us, which is a decision that we decided on only recently, after getting some advice, it could be really good support mechanism for the business development manager as well. To kind of tackle both the digital side and the the hitting the phones and go into meeting sighs.

I think the combination of the two is gonna be really good, particularly in our market, because a lot of them are very digitally savvy. And we know that, well, wellbeing is a huge thing for these companies.

So that’s really the plan to, to flesh out over the next two to three months. So the tech refinements our culture wellbeing solution, get the people the right people on board, hopefully, that won’t take more than two months, and then hit the road. Really, I’ll be going to conferences, I’ll be going to different events. And just getting us out there really.

Matthew Todd
Yeah, I see. So very much. You’re kind of a key part of that, you know, strategic hiring, but then also that that awareness building process itself as well.

Matthew Vamplew
Exactly. So I’m very aware that my role is public facing trying to raise our profile, bit of HR was trying to get the right people getting persons on board. And it’s very much it’s very exciting time. For where we’ve come just from the idea I had from a circumstance I found quite challenging in 2018, to now having a company that raised money with a, you know, over a million pound valuation is really impressive. And so I’m very excited to see what’s next.

No, absolutely, I look forward to seeing what what happens next with parent email. And I guess just before we kind of round things off in terms of the topic of employee mental health, and well being obviously, you know, started off as a very personal problem now, you know, deeply involved in supporting other organizations with that, as well. And obviously, the COVID situation has dramatically changed how people work.

Matthew Todd
You know, not everyone is in the office, right? It’s a very hybrid approach now, kind of be interested to hear your thoughts on the organization’s you’ve been talking to the HR professionals you’ve been talking to, you know, what does that look like that kind of landscape of employee work and mental well being?

Matthew Vamplew

So what are the big challenges being faced right now is retention of staff, and recruitment of staff. So they may seem opposites, but they’re very, very closely related.

Matthew Vamplew
So what are the big challenges being faced right now is retention of staff, and recruitment of staff. So they may seem opposites, but they’re very, very closely related. So what I mean by that is, I spoke to a company recently, and the new way of work has been fantastic, in the sense that it’s given people more flexibility.

What it has done has also increased some isolation and presentation, which is defined as essentially continuing to work despite not feeling great, because of the longer the people are attending to work more because they work from home. And that’s causing a lot of stress, a lot of burnout for people. And it’s keeping making people think, gosh, is this the sort of job I want to be staying in hadn’t you know, HR managers have a task to try and retain their stuff? And that’s, to health and well being is really, really important to do that.

And also, how would you manage your culture in a company when everyone’s remote? It’s not, it’s not easy. And that’s the big challenge that I’ve seen organizations face as well. And then of course, you’ve got recruiting talent, so showing people that working in a company is more than just money that they’re being paid. They’re coming to a good culture, they’ve got some support mechanisms in place such as employee mental health, and trying to get people to come in.

With that in mind is also something when organizations because of the way At the markets looking with a lot of London-based firms, for example, using the highest salaries to attract talent that’s outside of London, because we’ve given them remote work, and we’re doing things, each the sort of things that are able to retain stuff rather than just the salary package as well.

I see. So yeah, people very much looking for and needing support and kind of stability there as well, I guess, do you? Do you have any kind of advice for executives and managers within those organizations to help keep on top of those issues? Obviously, other than checking out parent email itself, kind of what advice would you you kind of give to those people? In those organizations?

I’d say, one thing I’ve seen from things I’ve read throws people I’ve talked to, is HR managers, and people, managers and executives, but um, you know, I’ll talk about HR people, managers that screw up in speaking to mostly do have a responsibility for their employees mental health, and it’s not something that they can ignore. By no means am I suggesting that employee HR people, managers should put themselves out to be therapists for their staff, because that takes specialist training, but they’re having an awareness of not ignoring the problem is extremely important.

I’m also I’d also be advising these these people to look at ways to increase awareness of existing support processes are in place, and policies are in place. In organizations, or, for example, I don’t see many companies that have a mental health policy.

Yeah, I’ve seen one or two handful of companies, that are startups that have these type policies in place. And that’s a real signal to your staff that you care. And I think that’s really, really important. Just things like that. Now, when people do need help, one of the things that isn’t helpful, believe it or not, is to say to your staff, just go to your GP.

The reason I say that is, if the if they’re looking for for talking therapy, specifically, and they say, you know, and then then then your answer is go go to your GP, they often face the same challenges, I did have long waiting lists not being matched to the right support.

And it’s also want to organization you want to be are you the type of organization that looks after your stuff with this organization that chooses to hand off responsibility to to others. And I think that’s a decision that only the HR people managers and executives can can make. But I hope that there’ll be some that says they’ll take responsibility and look after their stuff.

Matthew Todd
And do you think that with those HR and people managers, whilst that is obviously the right thing to do do? Do you see them having a bit of a fear of how to tackle that kind of, you know, sensitive topic of getting involved with other people’s mental health? You know, and taking on that responsibility? Almost?

Matthew Vamplew
Yeah, definitely. I mean, opening up and talking yourself is one thing, knowing how to support someone else is another because as an HR and people manager, you’ve also got to think of, you know, you’ve got legal responsibilities, and there’s all the complications around around that.

So being able to rely on a support partner, like Paranimo for example, that can support your staff take the burden off the and support you not only in managing your staff, but creating an environment that is very preventative for the mental health issues coming around in the first place. Is is a good option.

And I don’t always think that HR managers should put themselves in a position where they are acting like a counselor or therapist because they themselves have to look after their own mental health. And that without training can be quite difficult, I believe. For those those people.

Yeah, no, absolutely. It makes sense that they themselves shouldn’t feel alone in in trying to deal with these issues throughout the organization. agrees Exactly. Perfect. And I think that’s a good place to kind of round off, you know, this conversation, no doubt there’ll be other ones in in the future. But before we we let you go there any other kind of parting? thoughts or comments you want to add?

Yeah, if there’s any HR people, managers, or startups on SMEs are interested in finding out more about how they can better support their, their staff and get their culture in a place that is able to support people in the remote working world. And definitely reach out and investors out there and we are still actively looking to clothes are 150,000 pounds round, we’re almost there.

So I’d like to close that off in the next in the next month or so. So anybody listening, that would be a great conversation to have.

Matthew Todd
Cool, fantastic. Well, good luck with that. Hope that goes. Well. And yeah, thank you for your time again and we’ll speak soon.

Matthew Vamplew
Nice. Well, thanks a lot Matt.

Matthew Todd
Thank you for joining me on this episode of Inside the scaler. Remember for the show notes and in-depth resource is from today’s guest. You can find these on the website can also leave feedback on today’s episode, as well as suggest guests and companies you’d like to hear from. Thank you for listening

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