This startup of 2 was founded in 2018. HellyHolly has made an impressive entrance onto the productivity software and platform scene, already having launched its product Our Canary.

Answering 10 questions about HellyHolly and it’s journey so far is CEO and co-founder, Lisa Matthews.

1. In your own words – what do you do?

We make software that helps machines think about time the way that humans do. We’re living and working in more flexible ways, and our daily plans are less structured than at any time in the past – with portfolio careers, gig working, remote teams etc. This puts a lot of burden on people to manage all the competing demands on their time and presence.

At the moment the best you can do is stick things in a bunch of calendars and figure out the plan yourself. For tools to help people with this, you need machines that understand how humans think about their time in a very personal way – what their priorities are, how their futures are interlinked with other people in their life, what they really want to achieve. Our software does that.

2. What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?

The potential to help a lot of people with a painful everyday problem – giving them back control of their time, on their terms.

3. What are you most proud of so far?

Bringing our first product to market – Our Canary – which helps people manage the interface between work and home life. This is a common problem that inspired us to start the company and even getting to that point is a big achievement. We’re excited that we’re not stopping there though!

4. What have you found most difficult about being a startup?

Prioritising. When you’re small and new the founding team are wearing a lot of hats. There is heaps of work that ‘could/should’ be done, the skill is working out what’s the most important and what’s going to move the right needles in the right direction. And then saying no to the rest!

5. What would you do differently if you started now?

Talk more, sooner, and more publicly about how we want to help people and why. You can feel like you need to have everything ‘ready’ before being bold and open about your business. But in reality, that’s not the case. You might miss the opportunity to meet partners, collaborators and early customers that you hadn’t thought of.

6. Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months?

Winning a SPARKie 😉

7. What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you most?

We’re SETsquared members and we get huge value from the mentors and entrepreneurs and professional services in residence; they’re like an advisory board. The meetup scene is also great – whatever aspect of startup life you’re thinking about, you can find a meet-up on it.

8. What’s the best thing about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster?

Community – it’s busy and buzzing but manageable enough that you can basically get to know everyone. It feels like we’re all here rooting for each other.

9. Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie next year?

There are a lot of businesses I greatly admire who are nominated this year. One not represented is Huggg; I love the human element to what they’re doing. So I’m gonna say Huggg for Totally Killing It 2020.

10 – Where can we find out more about you?

At the HellyHolly website and the Our Canary website. You can also get in touch via good old-fashioned email at

Thanks to Lisa for taking the time to talk to us about HellyHolly and its product Our Canary.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.