It’s five o clock in the morning of our Bethnal Green Ventures Demo Day and I’m awake. Lottie the dog was scratching to get out and go to drink water, but I was awake anyway. So I lie under the covers for twenty minutes in the warm bedroom, light with midsummer early sunshine, and then pull out my laptop. Despite telling myself this is no great shakes, just any other day, I feel a thrill of nervousness.
Bethnal Green Ventures is our first real investor, investing £20 000 for 6% of the company. It’s an accelerator programme of three months of intensive learning, and at the end of it, as is traditional for these kinds of programmes, there is a demo day where we and the other teams pitch our companies to an invited audience. There are seven other tech for good companies in our cohort, and alphabetically we are second to last. So I’ll be waiting my turn tonight for my chance to stand up and present to an invited audience of 300 people.
Bethnal Green has been amazing, a roller coaster ride. The team are friendly and professional and I feel we have been supported through our journey with a kind of polished optimism that has seen me through doubts and wobbles, and an increasing sense that this is a real job that I have given myself. Though I took Mental Snapp seriously before and worked hard, there was an element to which it felt like playing. I enjoyed that feeling of having the company as my playground. It has been replaced by a growing sense of responsibility. There is a playground involved, but I’m the adult, not the child. Having a company is like having a baby – and I need to feed, tend and care for it, as well as help it muck about on the swings.
However, being on the Bethnal Green programme there has been some playing, helped by the rest of the cohort, but in particular my co worker and team member Manisha. It has been great going through the programme together, and I’ve really appreciated her energy and enthusiasm. Going forward, we are looking for a new member of the team, someone to join the founding team and push forward on the technical development of the product.
We know we need to iterate the product. With minimal advertising, we have 130 users. But the signup process needs work, as only 80 of those have created accounts. The on boarding process needs work, to make the product clear and articulate the benefits. We also need to install a paywall so that people can subscribe – and instigate additional features. We haven’t been able to make changes to the product while the NHS trial has been going on. But that comes to an end at the end of July, and at the moment I am applying for funding to run workshops and focus groups to really listen to our users and turn the product into something special.
Our dedicated users are getting a lot out of the product. Of the 80 who have created accounts, 5 are regular active users and record sometimes several times a day. That is a good rate of super users, just over 6%. What we have noticed is that the people who are prepared to see past the flaws of the product as it stands are people who really feel the need to tell their story, who want to actively manage their mental health and who feel the benefits of recording their story. I see their feelings on the titles of the videos on the back end – ‘rage’, ‘pensiveness’ ‘optimism’. I contacted a user the other day to check he was ok and send him a list of resources in case he wasn’t. He replied in a lovely email to say he was fine – even if the titles of his videos suggested otherwise – because he was using Mental Snapp to process. He wanted to contribute his views to its improvement in the future.
So our community is expanding – and we hope too that the team and the interested parties will. Through the process of doing Bethnal Green Ventures, we have earned our stripes as a real company and learned a huge amount on the way. If you are coming tonight, we look forward to meeting you. If we haven’t yet met and you’d like to get in touch do.
I’ll conclude this blog entry with the call outs that I’ll be making tonight. At the moment we are particularly looking for investors. We’ll be looking to raise a round at the end of the year, and we want to start conversations with people now. So if you invest in this space, get in touch. We’re looking for users. Please download Mental Snapp, have a play and tell us what you think. Your feedback will be valuable in developing the commercial product in the autumn. Finally, to really drive the product forward, we need that key member of the team to join us as founders. If you are a a potential technical co founder for Mental Snapp, or you know someone in your network who might be a fit, don’t be shy, send us an email. And if you read this before 6.30pm on June 7th – wish me luck tonight.