8 June 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
As part of our popular Meet the Successful Founder series we had the pleasure of catching up with Dan Bladon of Companion, to discover more about his entrepreneurship journey and company success.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
The idea for Companion came about due to my shared interests in product design and mental health, which gave me the opportunity to see how a digital product could be used to support mental wellbeing in the workplace, teamed with the knowledge from co-founder Dr. Robin Hart who is a psychotherapist specialising in anxiety disorders and depression.
We launched Companion in January as a new mental health tool designed to reduce work-related stress and anxiety and support businesses to create a positive company culture. It’s specifically aimed at small and medium sized enterprises to be a mental wellbeing companion offering a smart and easy solution to offer to their workforce, whilst also helping people manage their thinking, reduce stress symptoms and proactively look after their mental wellbeing.
The app offers a range of digital therapy guides in written and audio formats, inspired by proven Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). All content has been designed in a digestible, bitesize format to fit in and around the busy working day, from starting out with goal setting and breathing exercises, to offering a broad range of guides including stress and anxiety management, building a positive routine, managing change in the workplace and addressing the signs of burnout. It also has a lot of information that will help and support people through the range of difficulties that they might meet at work.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
After experiencing work-related stress and anxiety myself, I visited psychologist Dr. Robin Hart who introduced me to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). As a product designer, I saw how a digital product, based on CBT, could help people experiencing similar problems.
Robin and I worked together to design Companion to positively impact working culture as we know it and encourage businesses to deliver a duty of care and develop a culture of wellbeing and high performance. I am also aware that it is sometimes harder for smaller businesses to offer mental health support to employees, so I wanted to create a tech tool that could be easily adopted, customised and offers employees the practical advice they need to perform at their best.
How are you achieving awareness?
Our approach to promoting Companion is based on our core mission of supporting the hundreds of thousands of SMEs in the UK, and their employees, manage their mental health.
We focus on telling our story in a simple, understandable way and ensure that all our marketing content and messaging is useful to our end users and resonates with the problems and challenges being faced by HR teams and SMEs.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
To get to this point, Companion has been self-funded by the founders. We’re in the process of raising additional funding through investors and this will continue across 2021.
What are the key successes of Companion?
One of our earliest successes was being included in the NHS Apps Library. To do so, we had to go through a rigorous review process which felt more than just a box ticking exercise. This supported our early organic growth and helped to validate our product and give us credibility in the market.
One of the most satisfying aspects of creating Companion has been the personal emails and notes that I’ve been sent from people across the globe. It’s amazing to hear that Companion is helping people every day.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Our main challenge at the moment is progressing so many different things at the same time, with such a small team. It’s a tricky balance managing the investment rounds, getting our sales and marketing going and also the longer-term project of redesigning our product incorporating the brilliant feedback we’ve had so far.
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to see Companion rolled out across SMEs nationwide, offering an expansive library of practical guides and content to help positively impact workplace culture. We want to be a part of the movement that opens up conversations on mental health in a working environment and be seen as the solution to offer support to both businesses and the individual.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
My focus has always been on having a vision for my own work and products and creating tools that are meaningful and help people focus on the everyday. I’ve always invested in my own products and companies, rather than being reliant on outside funding. And by doing this, it’s given me the freedom and control to experiment, fail, make mistakes and keep on going without the outside pressure forcing me down a path I didn’t want to take. It can be relentless but I’m passionate about mental health and that passion sustains me during the difficult times.
Can you share your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?
1. Have a vision and see it through. Don’t get swayed by new shiny things or negative comments. It’s good to solicit opinion and feedback but at the end of the day, you need to own it and take responsibility.
2.Getting started is easy, keeping going and actually delivering a product or service is more difficult. Don’t underestimate the grind involved. It can be relentless.
3.I’ve definitely failed more times than I’ve succeeded. And I’ve been fortunate with my successes. But success or failure, I try to act with integrity and authenticity.
4.Success means different things to different people. Set your goals and enjoy your own progress – don’t compare it to others.
5.Be open to new opportunities and challenges. You never know when it could lead to an amazing adjacent success!
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
1. @EdPentelow – Companion co-founder and long-term collaborator
2. @DaftLimmy – True original, puts himself out there, very funny
3. @baddiel – Multi-talented comedian and author
4. @jasonfried – Entrepreneur who builds brilliant products
5. @stanleydonwood – Artist, Radiohead collaborator, genius
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“It’s better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.” ~ Albert Camus
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
@blado78 – Twitter
@cbtcompanion – Twitter and Instagram
https://www.companionapproach.com/ – Companion website link