Work is a major part of our lives and having a job is good for our mental health. But mental health in the workplace is equally important. Depression, anxiety, outbursts of anger and emotion, deadlines or traveling for work are different aspects of the same issue: that feeling of distress and the need for a compassionate, human response. HearMe – there could not exist a more fitting name for Kasia’s app. Feeling drained, short-tempered or isolated? HearMe helps you to build your resilience and cope with adversity at work.
Meet the team
Q: Name, position + where are you based?
I’ve always described myself as being a humanitarian, artsy person. And many would say, that’s the reason why really weird things happened in my life. My idea was to become a filmmaker, so I pursued a Film Studies degree in the UK. Right after that, I moved to the US. My next stop was Rotterdam where I did my Master’s degree in Media and Business Studies. I got a job in Poland with an advertising agency and three years later I decided I wanted to try working as a freelancer. It was a great experience, I learned tons, worked with amazing people and gained so much insight about e-commerce and digital marketing.
Around the same time, I accidentally saw an advertisement that was bound to change my professional life. The Demium Incubation Program ad. To that day, I had never thought of setting up my own business but thanks to Demium I had a serious change of heart. I met a lot of amazing people, among them my two associates Michał Pośnik and Paweł Pierścionek. The three of us knew we wanted to lay the foundations of an exciting idea: HearMe. The rest is history…
Q: What is it like to be CMO and CEO at HearMe?
I’m in charge of Marketing and Human Resources, in other words I’m the one who interviews and hires the therapists that work with us. We make a point of choosing the right people for this job, and we walk the extra mile. To us, it’s not just about the degree, but also about the skills and the overall capacity a therapist has, aside from their training.
Another area I focus on is Business Strategy and Finance. Actually that’s something me and my associates plan and implement together. I believe we make a superb melting pot so to say, coming from different walks of life, having distinct professional background and expertise. I remember that as a freelancer I used to do endless hours of paperwork and administrative tasks. Being a CEO and CMO is a whole different story.
Q: What is it about your co-founders that made you want to form a startup with them?
I believe we think alike, complementing each other every step of the way. If something goes wrong, we just share it with one another. We base our professional relationship on trust and constructive feedback. Michał and Paweł feel that failure is part of the process and I reckon the same. I’d rather try and fail than remain passive, doing nothing at all. We have agreed that these would be the basic principles for our startup. Personally, I think they both are amazing people, who tackle stressful, challenging situations in a calm way. Acceptable workplace behavior is something we strive to prompt and encourage among ourselves and our colleagues.
Q: How important is teamwork at work?
We put together a solid team right before the pandemic outbreak but we started off on the wrong foot because Poland went into lockdown and we had no choice but to work from home. We still wonder and worry what it will be like when all this is over. In the meantime, we meet on Wednesdays to discuss our work and plan the next steps ahead. I try to keep everyone posted on the latest updates in each department, especially my co-founders.
All about HearMe
Q: Give us your elevator pitch.
Let me put things into context. Currently, around 66% of the people (in Poland?) are braving mental health issues and never get help or should I say, they never ask for help. And that’s not because help is unavailable; it’s because they feel ashamed asking for it. This is a big barrier in society and we wanted to push through it by creating HearMe, our app. Everyone who wishes to discuss things that challenge or worry them can do so, anonymously, through our app. Just sign in and schedule an online meeting with one of our therapists. HearMe is an ads-free, safe space to talk, no judging, all inclusive.
Polish employees undergo a lot of stress, many would say they have the most stressful jobs in Europe. They don’t feel ready to share their worries with Human Resources, let alone pinpoint any CEOs as part of the problem. Bottom line of the story, nothing ever sees the light of day. That’s why we felt we should start B2B in Poland.
Right now, we are working with four clients while new agreements are in the works. Despite the novel COVID crisis which affects companies and employees, we’ve had a number of requests coming in and we will be closing the deals sooner than we thought.
Anxiety and uncertainty shape up the future, as many employees would tell you. And this is the exact moment for us to step in. Our project took off in March 2020 but we never thought it would have such an impact. We feel particularly happy and proud that the solution we offer has helped so many people during this difficult time.
Q: what stage are you at with HearMe?
We are trying to raise money which would help us to focus more on our marketing strategy and sales abroad. That’s why we’re hiring so many therapists. We are building a team of professionals, who are also fluent English speakers. Operation costs in Poland are much lower than in other countries and we do feel that’s a significantly competitive advantage for us when it comes to expanding our business. The benefit margin looks promising.
Q: What’s next for your startup? What are you focused on or working on now?
As of the beginning of this year (2020), our priority has been to enter the UK market. Spain and Portugal would come next because our investors are based in these two countries. Next stop, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Norway: our toughest competitors in Europe.
Q: Where do you hope to be in a year’s time?
I would like to bring our company to a well-established position in the US market. Without doubt, competition is pretty strong there but we’re going to do our best and carve our way to the top, to stand among them.
HearMe and Demium
Q: Why did you decide to start your company with Demium?
I saw your ad and immediately after that my fiancé told me about the same ad as well. He truly encouraged me to give it a go. I was hesitant at first, I had never thought of becoming an entrepreneur to that day. But in the end I did contact Demium. They assured me that it makes zero difference not to have a team or an initial idea, as they would provide this for me in the Incubation Program. Thanks to them, I learned that if you are willing to become an entrepreneur and have the skills for it, just leap! And the net will appear. To me, that “net” was Demium. I knew I made the right decision. I was where I wanted to be.