This is a repost of an interview done with Dez Fleming. Read the original here.
Hey Everyone - Dez here from Apex Venture Studios. Has anyone ever come up with a good description for this weird time between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Personally, I am two weeks deep into shamelessly blaring the same four Christmas songs on repeat. Around this time of year, more so than usual, I usually also do some reflecting. I am a pretty big believer in that your thoughts becomes your words, your words become your actions, and your actions become your habits, so I always try (I don’t always succeed) to write my goals on paper and talk about them with people I trust. It’s been a hectic, topsy-turvy year for sure, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I have never felt more anxious, isolated, or generally on edge in my life. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for us all (Shoutout to #science), but I’ve definitely realized, now more so than ever, the importance of mental health.
And that’s where LIFE Intelligence comes in. Life Intelligence was built by Jasmine Chen, an HBS grad and former buy-side investor. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jasmine recently and we talked about her journey building LIFE, the importance of mental health, and her perspective on the lasting effects of this pandemic. If you are struggling with your mental health, in any way, shape, or form, and you genuinely want to take a step toward improving your mental health - LIFE is an incredible product that is worth a look. It may not be the solution, but it will definitely be an excellent start.
Jasmine: LIFE Intelligence is a problem-solving app for just about every life situation you could think of. Whether you’re frustrated with a colleague, anxious before a date, or prepping for a 1x1 at work, we have immediate “DIY” therapy, coaching, and relationship counseling exercises for you. We give you a short piece of science-backed content, and ask you to reflect as you would with a real therapist or coach. Our solution spans 100% of topics on self, career, and relationship success, at 1% the time and price of alternatives.
Our two-part system consists of:
1) A comprehensive course for proactive learning. Every morning, we send you 5 minutes of science-backed snippet reading and reflection. This progresses you through hundreds of bite sized lessons that make up 9 core “Missions,” or modules, covering mental horsepower, self-awareness, values and goals, regret and time management, decisions and biases, stress and social influence, dating and relationships, communication and conflict resolution, and leadership.
2) A pocket problem-solver for reactive situation management. Throughout your day, as annoyances, decisions, or conflicts come up, you can revisit the app for on-demand coping and communication strategies. Instead of getting distracted and wasting hours, use our exercises get to the bottom of moods and issues and refocus in minutes.
Jasmine: I’m a pretty Type-A person. After Harvard Business School and years of M&A banking, private equity, and hedge fund investing, I was frustrated to find that most wellness tools didn’t have the level of rigor I wanted. I was turned off by anything fluffy where I couldn’t validate the source. As well, most options weren’t efficient enough for someone impatient like me. Books took hundreds of pages just to prove one point, scheduling appointments was a pain, and advice would often go in one ear and out the other. At the time, my job was to pitch stocks. I would research and analyze the world of information to find tidbits others might miss, that could give us an investment edge. I realized I had done so much work to back up those stock picks, but had much less research and reflection for my personal life, arguably my single best investment. Yet, there were decades of psychology studies out there that could help. Most of them never got to the general public (who wants to read thousands of dense academic papers?). I thought I might have a unique ability to distill those studies in the same way I did for stocks. So with these two things in mind: one, dissatisfaction with existing resources, and two, a feeling that I might be qualified to go build it, I quit my job to create the product I wished that I had.
Jasmine: We’ve been amazed to see how diverse our earliest users are. This means everyone from CEOs and Heads of People addressing emotional intelligence and leadership, to Heads of Engineering and Sales improving remote communication skills, to mid-20s professionals dealing with dating issues, to college students developing growth mindset. That’s why we think of the “ideal user” as more a personality and competency fit, across age, gender, and culture. First, I think LIFE is best positioned for professionals who seek growth and development but may be looking for more efficient options than traditional therapy, leadership coaching, or relationship counseling. They also might be more private, and less interested in sharing personal details with a stranger or a group. At the same time, they are pretty high performers who may be bored with a chat bot or meditation app. I am a big fan of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and meditation, but these topics comprise less than 1% of what a user would learn in LIFE Intelligence. Beyond just calming stress and anxiety, we focus more on the next-level problem-solving of underlying causes. So we may be a better fit for those who have “graduated” from other apps.
Jasmine: We incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation that’s focused on impact in addition to business sense. When I get emails from users telling me how LIFE has changed their lives, that to me is success already. Our consumer iOS app was just released on the front page of Product Hunt a couple weeks ago, and users are already seeing value in us immediately. My goal is to continue scaling that, and hopefully anyone reading this will try us out and share us. I’m also constantly taking user feedback to improve the app. We plan to roll out Android soon, so if you’d like to be a beta tester, sign up at https://www.lifeintelligence.io/android.
On the enterprise side, we’re working with innovative companies as an all-in-one digital employee wellbeing and development resource. A big part of the next 6 months will be quantifying pilot outcomes.
There’s absolutely a greater need now across all three areas we cover, self, career, and relationships. On self/mental health, studies show that a pandemic is as traumatizing as a natural disaster or terrorist attack. And, there’s a greater need specifically in affordable options, given many have lost their jobs. On careers, remote work is showing us just how important communication skills are among colleagues. Gaps in leadership skills are painfully clear in times of crisis, and companies are recognizing the need to provide both mental wellness benefits and learning and development trainings digitally. On relationships, being stuck at home means increased tension among couples and families, and loneliness among singles. Emotional management and relationship-building skills are more essential than ever to minimize conflicts and maximize connections.
APEX: What advice do you have for any aspiring entrepreneur?
Founder mental health has been talked about a lot. I’m lucky that I’m able to use my own product, and LIFE keeps me grounded, happy, and healthy as a solo founder. For those thinking about making the leap, use us to introspect beforehand and be very clear about your “why” and “how.” For those already on the journey, take care of yourself. There are a lot of resources, LIFE being just one of them, to help if needed.