Last year, we started a collaborative journey with Allbry on a project that helps to provide conditions for students’ mental health improvement.
We created a mobile app for students and counselors and a web app for principals to enable more efficient communication between a curator and a student. At the same time, it allows principals to get an overview, analysis, and report on the purchase.
Today we talked with Haris, CTO of Allbry, about our joint journey and common problems in the health industry.
Mental Health Market: how the company saw people’s need for a solution
1. Every year, more and more children are diagnosed with mental illnesses, and the percentage of mental disorders is estimated at 40%. What is the situation in Sweden?
Unfortunately, every year in Sweden, the number of children with mental illness is growing. It’s the reason we started working on this issue and that’s why schools listen to us, actually. If we don’t take serious actions to solve this problem – it will continue growing.
2. Okay, if we say that it continues – what about the consequences? For example, growing just on a global scale.
It can bring big problems with mental health: more inertion at schools, fewer sports, isolation. People will not follow their dreams and take opportunities.
3. It’s interesting how mental health affects every direction in the future life. I think it’s pretty crucial. If you try to analyze the problems in detail, what do you think could be the main accelerator of such growth in mental illness right now in these couple of years?
A big problem: we need to stimulate our mental health, but nobody encourages us to learn how we feel ourselves.
Previous generations have not had time for sharing experiences on this.
At first, speeding up life: for example, the same social networks will expect too much from us, which will lead to more stress, especially in young people.
Product: how to properly address needs while working in the health market
4. Okay, I was also thinking about some reasons. For example, adults do not educate themselves on this problem and do not help children with mental issues enough, so kids and teenagers are scared to speak about this. If we start talking about these problems, what opportunities have you found, and how can you help?
It was developed for the need of students to speak with counselors online.
Big problem – students are afraid to speak about their emotions. The idea of our product is to let them communicate without stress and fear.
5. You said you provide services for communication between counselors and students. But initially, how did it start? You simply created your first MVP and launched it for schools?
Initially, we created another product. We created a network for universities and just spread it for free. Then we noticed demand.
The counselors really used our service in their free time. But there was a barrier to ways to monetize the service since we had to cover our technical costs.
The barrier was that schools perceive the service fee as something expensive. Therefore, we showed how our product affected people: students spoke and wrote to us, it was a good activity. Then schools realized that this is a cheap expense for a great result.
6. You mentioned the former application. What about the differences between the first idea and modern conditions? What’s the essence of your product right now?
This is user flow and our ambitions to make a revolution in students’ health processes.
The essence of the product is that students quickly and simply find their way to their problems. This can be achieved with the right system of tools, including schools that will be able to see what concerns students are currently having and receive updated statistics.
All these processes were impossible in our previous solution. It was a good platform, but not scalable. We wanted to have a scalable platform and then created a current solution.
7. You mentioned that you started with the purpose of making communication easy. Maybe you have some examples of cases of how some schools use the platform?
When we launched at the schools, we received feedback on how they use the platform. For instance, consumers liked the communication part. Also, the statistics and planning system were interesting for consumers.
8. How many schools are using Allbry now?
It’s a couple of schools: we have 10 000 students.
9. It’s cool, it’s really good progress. When you were creating this product, did you use advice from psychologists or some specialists?
Yes, we have counselors speaking with the students. Initially, our CEO Cem spoke with specialists who work in this field, who gave feedback to us and answered our questions.
10. Does it solve the problem of shame in children and adolescents, and how? Many young people are afraid or shy to seek help from psychologists for various reasons.
A big thing is a digital moment. You can be anonymous and ask any question in conversation with the counselor. This opportunity removes a barrier.
Also, it’s a possibility for the counselor. A student doesn’t fade away after the first meeting, and the counselor can continue talking with the student. In other words, the process keeps going.
11. Don’t you think that the counselors should not be in the same school where the student is located? It can reduce stress.
It actually depends on what service you buy: you can purchase our counselor or just a platform. It also depends on how the schools accept this. But it’s easy for me, as I would like to see guidance and somebody who can meet me in the hallway the next day.
Product development: how to create a health product quickly and without errors
12. Yes, I think it better depends on your opinion. Have you tried to start development yourself? If so, what were the problems with it?
We didn’t start developing a platform. We specified what needs to be done, what features need to be present, and how it should work security-wise.
We chose to hire a development studio, and it was the right decision we made because I know we didn’t have time for technical research to create a new platform from scratch that would be scalable.
I think when building your platform in-house, it always makes sense to hire a development studio specifically for this because you get so much for using this type of service. You should have architects, infrastructure, the right UX, and the whole process of development.
13. Yes, there is a time when startups need to hire development. What is the stage when you need to hire a separate development partner? I mean indicators.
I think the indicator is when you have MVP and you don’t have time for the development of an in-house team to understand the product and platform. At the moment of the creation of the MVP, you will have to spend too much effort on searching and training.
14. Were there any specifics, standards, or medical things that had to adhere to for the product launch?
Yes, obviously it’s the classics like GDPR and the European accessibility act.
For instance, we had to have the possibility for users to remove data in the service. And we had to count this feature for development.
All these healthcare laws are difficult to take into account. The main problem of many market participants is the lack of experience, which leads to sanctions from government agencies for improper enforcement of the law (for example, companies can forget to set up automatic deletion of data in chats, according to GDPR).
15. If we are talking about this particular collaboration between a company and a health product partner, who helps develop the product, is it preferable for you to have some business analysis or some idea generation from the partner side, or do you prefer only execution?
That is one of the reasons why we chose you, as we interviewed many studios before we started to work with you.
We wanted to work with a studio with an acceptable development capacity. The partner should dedicate themselves to the processes and come up with ideas rather than just develop an application for our requirements.
Note that working with a health product partner is not just about completing a task without suggestions and criticism of ideas.
This concept is about offering directions for the development of the project and constant communication:
1. Deep understanding and narrow focus on the health market: the partner company knows approximately how long the product development will take, and is more likely to successfully complete it with experience in one specific area and a ready-made architecture.
2. Tips to change any features that are difficult for potential customers in terms of UX.
3. Adaptation of the product functionality to the standards and laws of the health industry.
4. Transparency: unlike other types of cooperation, working with a health product partner is the concept of a single team.
5. Time to market and cost, as, thanks to the experience of a partner, companies can save on development and release the product to the market faster, because them don’t need to create and educate a team from scratch.
16. What important points did you consider when choosing a partner for the development of a health product?
Constant feedback, constant communication, and, above all, working with a partner should be working as one team. The perfect condition is if we never fall out of control. We can have meetings whenever we want, sometimes almost daily.
17. Yeah, it’s a true partnership. It’s not like hiring a service provider. It’s a situation where you together explore solutions, and I think it’s a way of building a good product. The last question: tell us about the obstacles that you are overcoming now, and what are your plans for the near future?
Technically, I don’t see any obstacles. In fact, we will continue to develop our product and solve emerging needs by receiving regular feedback from users.
We notice that every month gets quicker and we ask what our customers and potential customers want from features delivered to them. And maybe we should have a system that meets other demands.
18. And do you have any specific quantitative goals? For example, the number of schools or students you are trying to fit.
I don’t have the numbers, but if I say easily – the goal is all students 🙂
Really, our goal is to reach all students in Sweden. And of course, we work on how to expand into the international market.
If you want to get acquainted with the process of creating an Allbry product or if you have any health product ideas but need a health product partner to finalize and implement them, make an appointment with us for an online meeting at a time convenient for you. We are ready to show our work and discuss your decision at any stage.
Link on meeting: book a demo