Top Left to Right: Nolan Clarke, Benjamin Ray. Bottom Left to Right: Oluwabusayo Adebayo, Brendan Rattin.
How did five young men start a unique mindfulness app to aid the growing mental health crisis?
During 54, a startup competition hosted by Founders, the five young men met and shared a passion for mental health. All previously worked in mental health-related jobs or felt a growing need to address the mental health crisis.
“Depression, stress, and anxiety can arise from a lack of mindfulness and accessibility to mental health resources,” explained Nolan Clake, COO of vrtumind.
“We recognized health problems from stress and anxiety plagues students both high school and University, but primarily University,” stated Clarke. 87% of college students feel overwhelmed by all they had to do and 66% felt overwhelming anxiety according to an American College Health Association survey in 2019.
The team needed to decide how to tackle the mental health crisis in a novel and effective method. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) appeared as the best accessible option. “There’s a lack of access to mindfulness apps for people with hearing impairment because most apps are audio-based,” explained Clarke.
The group identified two markets that deserve an effective mindfulness app: university students and people with hearing impairments. To address both markets, vrtumind is creating a mobile app that uses personalized sessions, data-driven insights, and audiovisual technologies to develop mindful habits to aid people’s mental health.
Creating tools that have a positive impact on people and the world drives the team to build vrtumind. “I’m definitely passionate about mindfulness. Being present and living an aware life is what allows us to enjoy our existence,” reflected Clarke.
As the group continues to build, they face difficulties choosing between the two initial target markets. Choosing the initial market in which the product creates the most value is the main focus of vrtumind.
What I wish I knew before starting a company
“Customer insight and knowing what to build before you start building is crucial,” Clarke said. In the beginning, the team immediately jumped into developing VR environments for the app during 54. However, the team didn’t know how to build an effective VR session nor if that was even the right direction.
It was a great learning experience for Clarke. Throughout his startup journey, Clarke has taught himself how to code and fell in love with learning about customers, new markets, and sales.
vrtumind is releasing its Beta for students soon! Sign up to be a tester.