We caught up with Dr Jan Smith, a member of the 2023 PARSE cohort, to find out more about his journey as a tech founder.
Tell us a bit about your company, and your role, in your own words.
MindYourself app is a digital platform to prevent the escalation of mental health difficulties for people working in challenging environments, and who are short on time. Our vision is to optimise the mental health of 150 million individuals using evidence-based solutions. I am the founder and CEO.
What was the inspiration behind setting up your business?
Hearing the harrowing experiences of workers whose job they once loved has begun to make them mentally unwell drives me to do the work I do.
When we feel like we can’t change the situation we are in, it can feel powerless, and even hopeless. Although many don’t feel they can change ‘the system’ they are working in, I want to equip workers with the skills to feel happier, mentally healthier and hopeful, using our MindYourself app. So even though their work situation might not change, they no longer feel powerless.
Why did you decide to take part in PARSE, and what are you hoping to achieve from the experience?
It can be difficult being a solo founder sometimes. Sharing the journey with others who understand the ups and downs, and can exchange ways of navigating their businesses, is why I wanted to be part of PARSE.
I hope to be better prepared for the next phase of our MindYourself app journey, which is to secure funds.
From your experience so far, what has been the most valuable thing you have found within the Leeds tech community?
The generosity from people to give their time, advice and support has been completely unexpected. I’m new to both tech and Leeds and have been made to feel so welcomed, and that people are genuinely behind the vision I have for the MindYourself app.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a Startup currently?
My biggest challenge is finding time to develop my own skills further in order to develop the app. Also, accessing grant funding – the process to complete an application is time consuming and I’m learning there’s definitely an art to creating a winning application, I just haven’t found it yet!
Looking forward, what are your hopes and ambitions as a company over the next 12 months?
- To have sales generating revenue of £200,000.00
- To make a difference on the mental health of its users, positively reducing mental health related absences and retention of workers
- To secure funding (either grant or investment) of £750,000.00
- Launch the next version of the app
- To build my network and community.
How do you personally define success?
Knowing that I have done my best to reach my goals and have learned something along the way – all while being kind, respectful and encouraging to others.
Who, or what, has been the single biggest influence on your working life?
Meeting the people who are working in an industry they once loved and overtime have become eroded, burned out and stressed. I know it doesn’t have to be this way and I am driven to make it different. They don’t just have to survive at work- they can thrive.