For Impact Month at TechSPARK, software development company, Amdaris, spoke with mental health tech startup, Paranimo, to find out more about their journey so far. 

Paranimo is a mental health technology company that matches people to the right support whilst reducing the time and complexity it takes to get that support. Paranimo firmly believes technology can bring people together and empower them to take control of their mental health and wellbeing.

Accessing mental health support in the UK is challenging. The NHS takes far too long, with support being provided based on whose available and not who’s right for you. Seeking therapy privately isn’t much better – it’s complex and overwhelming choosing a therapist based on their qualifications and profile rather than who is right for you – which is exactly how the online therapist directories work which is the current model for finding support. It’s hard to understand and take control of your mental health journey. Co-founder Matt Vamplew (pictured right) encountered these issues when he sought therapy in 2018.

Matt says, “If we can crack what makes a great client and therapist match, that’s a hell of a thing to do. We already have a successful pilot study under our belt proving its effectiveness as well as charity and SME clients. Our Business-to-Business model working with these groups means we can make a positive difference on a larger scale which for me is the most exciting bit. We are now raising investment to help us achieve our ambition of providing support however, wherever and whenever people need it!”

Paranimo’s long-term plan is to become the delivery partner of mental health support to all major charities and organisations, before moving into the insurance innovation space using Paranimo as a claim’s prevention tool with health and income protection insurers.

Building strong foundations

Matt says the achievements he’s most proud of is: “Winning our first Innovate UK grant, that was game changing. I still remember my reaction to this day.”

With co-founder Dan building the initial prototype whilst Matt testing it with therapists and people seeking support, they needed funding to get to the next stage of development. When COVID-19 hit, Innovate UK released their £50,000 “COVID-19 Business Response” grant for socially good companies trying to help out during COVID. Around 8,600 applications were submitted for only 800 places – and Paranimo got picked!

Amdaris helped Paranimo with their grant application, featuring as a provider. Once the grant was won, Paranimo was able to build out their prototype and take the platform to commercialisation.

When the discussion turned to learning curves, Matt says, “Everything takes longer than you think, with constant highs and lows. It’s a mental battle – keep focused and keep going strong. It’s not a straight line up, it’s more like a jagged one. As long as you keep the average going up, keeping perseverance when things aren’t going to plan, you’ll be alright.”

We asked Matt what he’d do differently if he started now, Matt laughs, “I don’t know – we’re so focused on where we’re going. Everything’s happened in a way that we’ve wanted it to, one way or another and I hope it stays that way.”

Before COVID, the co-founders (like many entrepreneurs) had to do everything themselves. Dan taught himself to code, whilst Matt used his experience of launching new ideas with his previous role as Innovation Manager to get things off the ground. However, having never started a company before, there was a lot of trial and error and personal finances invested, with heated discussions around when / if equity investment would be needed. Hence the innovation grant had such an impact.

A lasting impact

Matt believes that tech can bring people together and empower them to take control of their mental health and wellbeing. We’re all constantly connected on different devices. Technology can be a force for good and help with mental health, particularly with Paranimo’s mission in mind.

He tells us, “If you want to help as many people as possible, you need tech.”

Paranimo’s ambition is to build a technological solution that people can manage themselves, empowering them and giving them control over their own destinies by choosing when, where and how they get the help they need.

Amdaris Andy Rogers (pictured right), Co-CEO says, “Mental health and wellbeing are close to our hearts at Amdaris, over the past few years we have implemented welfare groups and made therapy and CBT sessions available to our staff. As a standard, we encourage sports and activities and offer various discounts on this as part of our employee benefits programme.

“When we were first introduced to Paranimo, we were excited to be involved in the joint mission to empower people to take control of their mental health through tech.”

Tangible solutions

Together, Amardis and Paranimo have created a Therapist Toolkit.

Paranimo chose to work with Amdaris as they shared the same socially responsible values, offered great value and had a reputation for delivering against fixed budgets and at pace.

Andy says, “What Paranimo offers is truly unique. We were delighted and felt extremely privileged to work with the team to create this ground-breaking solution. Paranimo came to us at a time when mental health issues needed more attention and using technology to empower people to seek help is something we firmly believe in and are truly proud to be involved in.”

Amdaris built their Therapist Toolkit as the minimal viable product (MVP) covering the following core functionality:

  • Therapist registration.
  • Customer registration.
  • Schedule management.
  • Payment processing.
  • Video therapy.
  • Topline financials.

Working together with the team at Paranimo, in a highly agile manner, Amdaris was also able to provide suggestions on the look of the platform as well as contribute to the validation of features. Suggesting improvement to the back-end technology and API, the team was able to take the minimal viable product (MVP) to a platform ready for commercialisation. An Amdaris developer has also been assisting the Paranimo build this year.

Next Steps

When Paranimo launched in 2020, clients and therapists signed up for free to get matched via the Paranimo algorithm, based on relevance, availability and personality.

Now, Paranimo is looking to raise £420,000 investment in SEIS and EIS funding to help them achieve their ambition.

The plan is to hire a full-time developer and business development roles, up the marketing spend and invest further in data security to introduce biometric security with therapists. This will give clients peace of mind that, when communing with a remote therapist, they’re speaking to an accredited, DBS and insurance checked, vetted professional.

Another proposition currently being built out is real-time data insight focusing on usage, questions asked and more, using machine learning and eventually AI. The more people that get help through the platform the better the matching and insight can be.

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.