Tech For Good – Feat. Paranimo

We recently caught up with Matthew Vamplew, CEO of Paranimo who are redefining the way mental health support is delivered in the workplace, by ensuring people get the right support at the right time.

The purpose of the Tech For Good series of interviews is to create a platform that showcases and champions companies, products and technologists who are using technology as a force for positive change in the world.

Sky @ ADLIB: Can you please introduce yourself, what your business does and what makes your business and offering unique and a force for good?

Matt: Hi I’m Matt, Co-Founder and CEO of Paranimo. Paranimo is a Bristol based company that helps HR managers nurture psychologically healthy cultures.

We match employees to the right mental health support provider via our marketplace, powered by our matching intelligence. The better the match, the better the therapeutic outcome.

We also integrate with companies’ digital tools to analyse behaviour to generate “cultural insight” to guide early mental health interventions, and train business leaders to develop an organisational culture that employees want to work in.

Everything we do is about helping people live a happy, healthy and productive life and I want us to be a force for good for everyone we work with.

Sky @ ADLIB: Can you share the story behind the origin of your business and Service / Product?

Matt: In late 2018 I decided to get therapy, so I looked on the NHS and soon realised that a 3-month waiting list was not for me!

I then decided to look for therapy privately and found it pretty overwhelming and complicated. Finding the right person , or the right “match” was not easy. A simple google shows directories with thousands of therapists on there – how do you pick the right one for you!?

So, I came up with the initial idea of matching people to the right mental health support wherever they were to stop things from being so complicated and stressful.

I co-founded with my flatmate Dr Daniel Condliffe who had just finished his Phd in Neuroscience and together we founded Paranimo, which means “match minds” in Latin.

Speeding up the story a bit now, we conducted customer testing interviews, won two innovate UK grants totally £150,000, formed a partnership with the second largest mental health association in the UK – “National Counselling Society”, launched as a B2C company, pivoted to a B2B model supporting charities, then businesses, launched two new propositions and raised another £146,000 in private investment!

This move into businesses and the launch of our new solutions aimed at building psychologically healthy cultures arose from discussion with HR managers, specifically around preventing negative mental health in the workplace and retaining top talent.

Sky @ ADLIB: Can you share some tech challenges or barriers you had to overcome to create a Product / Service offering with potential, whilst remaining ‘for good’?

Matt: The biggest tech challenge for us was taking the prototype that Dan created and turning that into a tech solution with a scalable architecture. Dan was completely self-taught and did a great job, but it was not suitable yet for paying customers.

Winning our first Innovate UK grant of £50,000 was game changing for us and enabled us to use an outsourced provider to develop the foundations using the right tech stacks. Our CTO (who we recruited soon after winning the grant) took on the development responsibility after that.

Luckily, we never had to compromise our “for good” stance as the solution we wanted to build had to scale to help as many people as possible.

Sky @ ADLIB: Why do you think is it a growing trend for tech professionals to seek out opportunities to work in purpose-driven businesses?

Matt: I think a lot of large tech companies have developed a bad reputation for treating staff poorly, especially with such high levels of burnout given the nature of the work.

The UK technology workforce employs around 2.93 million people (14% of the UK working population). Research shows that 52% of tech workers have suffered from anxiety or depression – that’s a huge number!

I also believe that, thanks to Covid, people are reassessing how they want to spend their time and what sense of purpose drives them. This can be seen with the “great resignation” which saw thousands of people leave jobs they weren’t happy in. People leave bad managers and bad cultures, so looking for opportunities where they are treated better and doing something that makes them feel good is pushing people towards companies like us.

Sky @ ADLIB: What has been the key thing you’ve learned about ‘tech for good’ and your target audience specifically?

Matt: I have learnt that sincerity and empathy go a long way in this space. Our buyers are HR and People managers and are very aware of the importance of employee mental health and expect those solution providers trying to help to feel the same.

A few companies I won’t name have taken more of a fast sale “rinse and repeat” model to getting new business which hasn’t gone down well!

In terms of raising investment, a lot more investors than I realised are looking to invest in socially good companies as part of their investment portfolio, driven I think by a genuine desire to do some good whilst making a good financial return. This has been critical for us raising our pre seed round.