Zenklub aims to be a one-stop-platform where anyone can access professional help in the area of mental health. Rui Brandão, co-founder & CEO, talked to me and told me more about the company, healthcare, the role of technology, privacy, and more.
How did the idea for Zenklub come about?
The idea for Zenklub came about as I struggled to help a family member overcome a preventable mental illness. At the time, I didn’t know who to go to for help, or where. I realized there really isn’t a mental healthcare system in place, nor is there a network connecting the best professionals. It is a word-of-mouth journey for the client. Zenklub focuses on bringing transparency and convenience to mental healthcare, by creating a one-stop-platform where anyone can access professional help for themselves or a loved one, before a problem turns into a disease.
What’s the main advantage for users of your platform?
Zenklub provides easy and fast access to the best mental care. On our platform, clients can easily find a therapist that matches their needs and profile, book a time that best fits their schedule and enjoy live video-therapy from the comfort of their home or work. No waiting lists, traffic or weekly hour journeys to the therapist’s office. For therapists, besides expanding their reach beyond local practice, we provide a complete online office that manages bookings, payments and marketing for them.
How important is mental health in this accelerated world?
Mental health is key for a balanced and happy life, both in a professional and personal context. Unfortunately, mental disease rates are skyrocketing in our society and diseases like depression and stress are becoming more and more common. We need to take care of our mental health as we do our physical health. We don’t exercise only when they have hypertension or obesity, and the same principal should apply for our emotional health: we shouldn’t care for our minds only when we are depressed or stressed, but rather work to prevent these problems. It’s a matter of living a happy life and getting the best out of us.
How can technology help us lead healthier lives?
Technology provides a more efficient solution for primary healthcare. If we compare the use of technology in healthcare versus other segments such as banking, we realize the industry is lagging behind. R&D and treatment efficiency have evolved rapidly, but in terms of service, we still consume healthcare as we did 30 years ago. We go to the doctor’s office when we’re sick, we do a couple of exams and go home with a prescription. It’s time we took control of our health, proactively seeking care and not simply treating diseases. I think technology will play a pivotal role in empowering patients.
Is privacy a concern?
I wouldn’t describe it as a concern. I’d rather say it is a priority, for us in particular and for the industry as a whole. On our end, we use an encrypted technology that protects privacy of both client and therapist. Our sessions are not recorded, but that goes without saying.
Mental health is still a subject that people are reluctant to open up about, and thus the importance of maintaining privacy. Being able to take care of your mental health from the privacy of your own home for instance, is something a lot of people value and I guess this reflects on our own metrics: 60% of our clients had never done therapy before.
What can we expect in terms of your company’s growth in the coming months?
We are very excited to be scaling Zenklub into our second market, and home country – Portugal. Our aim is to consolidate our business in the Portuguese speaking countries. We believe a lot of what we’ve learned in Brazil over the past year can be replicated in Portugal and will allow us to get the ball rolling in 2017, where we aim to have more than 100 active therapists by December.
Where do you see the Portuguese startup scene going in the coming years?
The Portuguese startup scene has grown exponentially in the last 5 years and I see it continuing to grow in the foreseeable future. One reason in particular: Portugal is investing resources in entrepreneurship, fostering the ecosystem from the ground up, with money being invested in ideas, and ideas being turned into profitable businesses. We’ve become prime exporters of ideas. We’re finally building and capitalizing on our knowledge, and we’re becoming more and more successful at it.
What do you wish you’d have known when you first started?
How important it is to bring the right people onboard. Spend time searching for the right people, not just the most qualified but those who also share your vision and passion.
Find out more about Zenklub at https://zenklub.pt/