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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Emma Amoscato

Emma Amoscato is the founder and CEO of Smile, the UK’s first mental health app for people managing long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma or long covid. She studied the psychology and neuroscience of mental health at King’s College London and her mission is to help families live well alongside a difficult diagnosis.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

My company, Smile, supports the mental health of people managing long-term health conditions through our app and workshops. After a career as a health writer, author and communications consultant, I retrained with a masters in the psychology and neuroscience of mental health and then worked as a mental health trainer for Mind. I had the idea for Smile but no experience in tech so it was a steep learning curve, but we launched into Apple and Android app stores last year.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

The idea developed through my own personal experiences of my family’s health conditions and the lack of tailored mental health support available. I started looking for things to support my own anxiety and PTSD initially and then after talking to lots of other people, I realised there wasn’t anything properly addressing the challenges we were facing – so I decided to design it!

How did you achieve awareness?

I had already built a decent social media following and email list through previous work I had done as a health writer and author. So initially I built awareness with those followers. Since then, we have grown our social media channels, built connections with charities, community groups and mental health professionals, and recently started some PR and paid advertising.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

We have been able to secure a range of grant funding including one from Innovate UK to help fund the development of the app. We have grown slowly and steadily as more people have become aware of us and for now, have chosen not to seek investment but will explore it again in the future. 

What are the key successes?

For me, the key success has been around helping people and hearing people tell us how much they or their communities need this type of affordable, accessible support tailored to their needs. Securing the grant funding to build the app was a key milestone and also gaining a place on the King’s business accelerator which really helped me build momentum. Seeing the app come to life and reach the app stores after growing from a seed of an idea will always be a huge success.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

It has been challenging to build and grow Smile alongside my family commitments and my husband’s health needs and at the same time, not compare my journey to other people’s. Last year was particularly difficult and I have had to refocus on prioritising my own mental health and wellbeing, and showing myself compassion, to be able to do everything I need to.

What are your plans now/for the future?

My plan is for Smile to become the go-to mental health app for people managing long-term health conditions and for it to be mentioned by GPs, charities and support groups at the point of diagnosis.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

We all see problems and dream up solutions – being an entrepreneur is just about acting on them. Your experiences and skills are valuable and there is lots of support out there to help you learn how to go from an idea to a business, whatever your background. 

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

For me, it’s about connecting to why you are doing this and remembering what is important to you. Those things will see you through the ups and downs and motivate you to keep going. Listen to people’s stories, find out what they need and don’t be sidetracked by shiny things that don’t fit into that! Finally, look after yourself and make sure you are taking time to get enough sleep, eat well and spend quality time with others. 

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

My children – they have experienced a lot of challenges in their short lives and come through them with empathy, resilience and kindness.

My husband – he has faced his cancer diagnosis with humour, honesty and acceptance

Brene Brown – I love her work on emotions and the role of shame. She normalises a lot of feelings we all face in a very accessible way. 

Michele Obama  – She is an incredibly smart and compassionate woman who has shown you can be smart, kind, inclusive – and stylish!

Naomi Fisher – She is speaking out about the challenges for children with ASD/ADHD and the problems with the education system which is an issue I am passionate about.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn how to surf” Jon Kabat_Zinn

We will always face challenges in our lives and we cannot control that, but we can build the resources and support systems to help us through these. We can also always look for the glimmers or joy and gratitude, even when things feel overwhelming and hard.

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?