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Wellbeing and mental health in isolation. Keeping staff engaged. Christina Colmer McHugh created a product to help with just that. 

Christina founded Moodbeam, a mood logging wearable aimed to allow you to self-report in your moods and visualise them.

Christina explained her journey prior to starting the business, the inspiration behind it, and how the product can help businesses ensure staff stay connected

 

Christina Colmer MCHugh Q&A

What is Moodbeam?

A mood logging wearable. It allows you to log / self-report – in real time – your moods to visualise them and see the highs and lows of your day.

What was your journey prior to starting the business?

I certainly didn’t think I’d recreate my career at 40. At 18 years old I studied journalism at university in Surrey. That then took me on a journey for 10-15 years working in broadcast and print.

In total I had 18 years in journalism where I also owned my own media/PR agency for last 10. To be honest, I was enjoying my career a lot having moved away from mainstream journalism.

So, what was the inspiration behind creating the product?

4 years ago my life changed. I’ve got 2 daughters. My eldest came home from school and broke down having tough time. I was gutted that I didn’t spot the sign that she was struggling and that she felt that she couldn’t converse with me.

It gave me inspiration to come up with the idea to create something to allow me to know how she felt when she wasn’t with me and for that to be communicated to me somehow.

Had an epiphany one night: what if you could have a colourful band that had different buttons that would relate to a mood, and when you press that could translate to a device.

Did a lot of research about that and nothing really like it in the market. Took the idea to a husband of a friend, who also happened to be the founder of The Gadget Shop. He liked it so pointed her in right direction. Went to C40I – the Centre for Digital Innovation – and they took on board the idea and said they could help.

What happened next?

I needed to partner with someone. I went back to Jonathan and thus 4 years ago Moodbeam was created in a coffee shop!

The idea was to create a piece of hardware/software that could be warn and kept close. In 2016 we self-funded it with 150 prototypes with two buttons: blue symbolising negative and yellow positive.

Over 18 months we tested it on families and children, NHS and people with learning difficulties. The story started to begin within health and social care.

After £200,000 in self-funding we received an additional injection of funding from the NPIF (Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund). It was 18 months of creating a hardware, finding a suitable manufacturing partner and an app development company.

How does the product help businesses?

In a few ways. We had a fantastic campaign at the start of COVID where we tried to help everybody and anybody. For every 10 purchases through the website we gave one back into the pot for someone who couldn’t access one.

It was incredibly rewarding. We got messages from people that had given it to loved ones as a way of connecting.

We then went down another area that we hadn’t considered before: workplace wellbeing. We spoke to HR leaders who said what they’ve always been worried about was accountability for their staff. They said they wanted to supply employees a gift for them to acknowledge their own high’s and low’s, and if they want to share it with the app they could.

The biggest areas for us at the moment are banking and construction. The former is used to being in branch together and latter on site. We built a prompt into the app so that the wearable vibrates up to 5 times a day. It’s helped employees to feedback how they’re feeling to an anonymous dashboard.  

What were the challenges you faced as a start up?

Trying to focus. When you’ve got a product that can be applicable to anybody, it can be hard to focus on a particular market. Just be ballsy. What have you got to lose? You’ve got a fantastic idea potentially and can change people’s lives. Go for it.

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