Myndr Lizzy Hodcroft and Emma Reilly

Myndr secures £300k grant funding from InnovateUK

Mental health platform accelerates growth plans with £300,000 Innovate UK backing

UK mental health and wellness platform Myndr has laid down its plans for UK growth and expansion having received a £300,000 backing from the government’s Innovate UK programme.

With only a 2% chance of success and over 1800 applications made, the company will now use the competition winning grant to roll out its vision of reaching thousands of UK employees and the general public who need mental health support.

Based in Newcastle Upon Tyne and set up by North East Young Entrepreneur of the year Lizzy Hodcroft and entrepreneur Emma Reilly, founder of The Brave & The Bold clothing line, Myndr is an innovative digital learning and support platform that helps company leaders and its employees help battle common mental health issues via peer-to-peer support.

Working alongside the Tyneside web development and app agency Komodo, Myndr will now launch its pioneering AI-assisted app in the next 12 months, further develop its online technology, invest in new staff and strike up partnerships with like-minded businesses. 

Despite the on-going turmoil facing the world in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Innovate UK backing follows a positive start to the year for Myndr. 

Last month the company was crowned the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Startup of the Year for 2020 and is currently trialling its product with the social housing giant Home Group. The feedback and insight gleaned from Home Group’s employees over the coming months will be used to create the final product. 

Emma and Lizzy have experienced mental health issues firsthand and have spoken openly about their struggles with depression, anxiety and addiction, as well as their frustrations with the lack of options for mental health care.

Myndr aims to create an anonymous platform that allows those suffering from common mental health issues to seek help from others who have experienced similar problems. 

Speaking about Myndr’s investment and its plans for the future, co-founder Lizzy Hodcroft, said: 

“We’re incredibly honoured and proud to have received this grant. Most of the funds will be used towards further development and content for the app as we have high expectations to deliver a platform that is contextually smart as well as impactful with practical, actionable steps and content. 

We have already recruited new members of staff that will help us drive the service forward.  They’re helping with the agile dev to get data into the system fast. 

We have also recently recruited a new COO and we’re reaching out to experienced content writers to help us deliver insightful personal stories to connect with our audience.”

Reacting to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and explaining why there’s a need for Myndr now, more than ever, co-founder Emma Reilly continued: 

“Apart from the obvious benefit to our users in terms of support and action plans for their mental health, we are also very proud that we can offer a helping hand to many that have found themselves without a job or income during this time. 

Because of the Innovate Grant and its timing, we have been able to reach out to professionals, freelancers, doctors, peers and so many others to help to provide Myndr with courses, content and suggestions and in turn pay these amazing individuals for their service. Although we aren’t able to completely solve any financial issues for people, we are very proud that we can support in some way.”

Our service is for anyone. But I do personally feel that those feeling as though they have lost control and connection during this lockdown will find our tools most useful. The way Myndr is made with empowering individuals in mind means that we can support them in identifying issues, exploring different ways they may solve these problems and guide them to choose what solutions they feel will work best for them to move into a plan of action.”

Cllr Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for employment and culture, added:

“One in four people in the UK will suffer some form of mental health problem each year, and the cost to that individual, their family and wider society can be colossal.

Particularly at this most difficult of times it is great to see a Newcastle business securing investment, supporting jobs and looking to lead the way in tackling one of our greatest public health challenges.”

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

It drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

Since 2007, it has invested around £2.5 billion to help businesses across the country to innovate, with match funding from industry taking the total value of projects above £4.3 billion.

It has also helped 8,500 organisations create around 70,000 jobs and added an estimated £18 billion of value to the UK economy.

EDITOR’S NOTES:

Myndr was created to offer a better solution to mental health self-care and goal setting by Entrepreneurs Emma Reilly & Lizzy Hodcroft.

About Emma Reilly

My name is Emma and I’m the Co-Founder of Myndr. I have spent all of my adult life in and out of NHS services for Social Anxiety, Depression and OCD. In that time, I’ve tried all kinds of treatments, ranging from medication to CBT & talking therapies. Much of my early twenties was spent in isolation, because I was paralysed by daily panic attacks.

When I turned 30 I was supported into self-employment by The Prince’s Trust where I was able to share my story to help other young people. Although my mental health was always a fine balance, I was always able to overcome any challenge in front of me to live the life I wanted. However, a couple of years ago I became very ill and was diagnosed with a condition called Endometriosis.

I’ve had three surgeries in that time and live with daily chronic pain. I’m currently under the care of three different doctors. Each one has an average waiting time of 4-6 months and I’m currently into month 7 of a 10 month wait for health psychology. The frustration, isolation and fear of being left to my own thoughts and emotions got to me really badly. It was then that I reached out to Lizzy to start our Myndr journey.

It’s my longterm hope that Myndr will become a companion to anyone who needs to get a more hands on approach to their own medical and mental health care. You can email me  [email protected]

About Lizzy Hodcroft

When you find yourself waking up in a Mental Hospital one morning, you don’t exactly feel as though you’ll be successful in life. Success at that point means trying to life a “normal” life. It’s certainly not the type of success I’m trying to achieve now; but regardless, this is the position I found myself in at one point.

And my story is not an anomaly. Without being too forward, I feel that my story is reflective of so many of us that struggle to find passion in life, an ambition to move forward or where they fit in the world.

If you are trying to navigate any kind of mental health issue, it becomes such a focus in your life. From seeking counselling, attending groups or just trying to get out of bed, you don’t really have much energy left for anything else. And, although there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the time to over come depression or any other problem relating to mental health (and I strongly advise you do this), when you finally do come out the other
side and are finally ready to move forward with other parts of your life – time has passed.

Opportunities have gone. The world has kept spinning. Somewhere along the way, I discovered entrepreneurship and start up. Being a part of entrepreneurship and the start-up space has made me seek out challenges and goals that I would have never set for myself. It made me confront the future head on but most of all, it made me realise that I had a future in the first place. Every day I found myself inspired by another founder or start-up, their tenacity, their ideas, growth and positivity. And one day it dawned on me that others felt the same towards me.

In the past two years, I have made a successful food business, winning awards for taste and innovation. In 2017, I was crowned Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the North East and have also found myself shortlisted for this award again. I went from self-harming to radio interviews on the BBC, pitching in front of the investors in Dragon’s Den and creating quite a platform for myself in public speaking.

Emma approached me at the end of summer in 2018 with an idea to empower those struggling with mental health. It was a vision I could not refuse to be apart of. You can email me  [email protected]

Manoj Ranaweera

Manoj has founded, failed and successfully exited from a number of technology product companies as well as support organisations since 2004. Among them, Northern Tech Awards and edocr.com were acquired by GP Bullhound and Accusoft, Inc respectively. Today, Manoj is building a trusted support network for technology companies. He is working with founding teams to help them accelerate including raising investment and M&A.