Calgary-based tech firm headversity fosters mental wellness at work

Calgary-based tech firm headversity fosters mental wellness at work

Writing columns about new ventures, and the expectation many have of quickly building a successful company, often makes me wonder if that enthusiasm should be tempered, as progress often takes longer than expected.

Not so the story of Calgary-based technology and wellness company headversity, which has beaten all expectations since launching in October 2019.

Headversity CEO Ryan Todd, a Foothills Medical Centre psychiatrist, had opened his own outpatient clinic only to quickly find out that due to his waiting list of patients, there was not enough help for people suffering mental-health problems in the workplace.

Teaming up with a group of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and digital learning exerts, they developed a workplace mobile platform that allows organizations to put the mental-health of employees back into their hands.

The proprietary app empowers users of the validated measurement tool to get real-time feedback on scores achieved by regularly answering five minutes of interactive questions about their mental health.

Headversity was launched following a $1-million seed round and due to its success has recently been able to raise another $2.25 million led by Birchcliff Partners, along with a group of private investors.

The app has been propelled by the rising need during the COVID-19 pandemic — it now touches 300,000 lives in more than 15 industries in eight countries.

“We were seeing mental-health needs in the workplace well before 2020 but, with what’s happened in the world this year, the push to digital has accelerated. There’s now widespread understanding in the business community that the issue of mental health touches all employees, and supports need to be digital and proactive, so there’s a massive opportunity for disruption in this space,” says Todd.

“Despite a pandemic and down economy, investor interest was overwhelming when we went out to raise this new round of capital. There is a lot of excitement about our space and how we are uniquely positioned to lead this new frontier of workplace mental well-being.”

Headversity chief marketing officer Steven Gramlich says the $2.25 million will be used to build out the company’s growing team in Calgary, to expand market presence in the U.S. and in Eastern Canada, and also for product, where it is looking to bolster predictive capabilities through artificial intelligence.

Locally, headversity works with a growing number of organizations, including Shell, Enmax, ATB Financial, NAIT and SAIT.

“We know mental health has been such a priority with everything that’s happened this year,” says Kerilee Snatenchuk, director of people and culture at ATB Financial. “Being able to offer our team members an Alberta-based, innovative and technology-enabled solution like headversity has been a great addition to our total health-and-wellness strategy at ATB Financial.”

Todd says his mental-health app is being used to help companies of any size, noting that a growing number realize the benefits of having a healthy workforce and reducing the amount of sick days, especially unscheduled absenteeism that is often the result of stress.

Notes:

Corporate Christmas parties just didn’t happen this season, and fewer companies ran around to clients delivering thank-you gifts. Hopefully, the usual recipients will better appreciate the outpouring of gifts by companies to those less fortunate, and so many Calgary businesses have thankfully stepped forward. One that caught my attention was Canadian recruitment and contract management firm Bowen Group. Led by Shannon Bowen-Smed, it partnered with Joey’s Seafood Restaurant and Oasis Wellness Centre to deliver 1,500 meals to a number of local shelters. “Charitable organizations in our city serve a vital role in protecting those most vulnerable,” Bowens-Smed says. “As everyone continues to fight through this pandemic, we are proud to help make this holiday season a little warmer and a lot brighter for so many that need support.” Thank you to all of those companies that responded in a similar manner.

Original article on the Calgary Herald by David Parker, December 27, 2020

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at info@davidparker.ca.