Flourish 2020 Letter To Stakeholders

Standing on a mountain

To our stakeholders:

Flourish Tech launched in March. Since then, we have learned a great deal about the market and our customers. We also developed first hand experience by serving as personal coaches to our users. By year-end, we have a number of users who are coming to Flourish’s shockingly affordable 1-on-1 coaching every week.

This is Day 1 for mental wellness. Today, more and more people are recognizing the need to invest their time and money for their mental health. COVID has heightened this awareness. However, affordable and consistent access to quality mental wellness is a big problem for the average American. Flourish Tech uses the Internet to increase the supply of affordable service providers to customers and, by doing so, seeks to build a valuable company in the fast growing mental wellness market.

We have another pandemic that will outlast COVID.

Americans feel stressed and lonely. One in four suffers from depression or anxiety. ~60% of adults felt some degree of loneliness, even before the COVID pandemic hit. Some of the top reasons for America’s mental health crisis include the decline of community life (such as volunteers for civic organizations and organized religions), the rise of social media and other digital distractions. COVID has made the situation worse. The number of people seeking help with anxiety has increased by 93% from January to September in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The impact of stress and loneliness is particularly acute for young professionals who are between 18 and 35. Young professionals are starting their careers and adult lives. They face unique stressors such as figuring out how to navigate career, building an adult social circle, and starting a family. Many feel they have no control over their lives and have a hard time finding peace.

Technology companies so far have made this mental health pandemic worse. For the past 20 years, computer algorithms have been treating people as assets to monetize or tools for gamification. A collateral damage of this setup is social distancing (this was happening before COVID). For example, social media companies invest billions of dollars in algorithms that reward polarizing content because it leads to stronger engagement. As a result, fewer users have been required to understand or seek empathic connection in their digital or physical lives, leading to a ‘crisis of disconnection’.

Another unintended consequence of these ethically agnostic algorithms is a massive increase in anxiety. The combination of “like” buttons and the ease of editing and posting photos and videos online have turned social media into a beauty pageant for “who has the most perfect life”.

We have a singular passion for human flourishing.

Into this vacuum, the time is ripe for a new generation of technology companies to rehumanize our lives and experiences, and to grow and strengthen our relations and empower us to flourish. This is why Flourish Tech exists. Philosophers and religious leaders have wrestled with the question of human flourishing for thousands of years. What is different today is the prominence of technology in our lives.

How can we use technology to drive human flourishing? This question fires up our imaginations everyday. Imagine a supportive community where people are rewarded for listening without interruption, showing curiosity instead of judgment toward different opinions and communicating with empathy. Imagine having regular and affordable access to effective life and career coaching that is less expensive than a cup of coffee. Imagine being a trusted member of a regular small group of people who motivate you to explore new learning, support you, and rejoice with you.

The current solutions are not enough.

Self help books and meditation apps lack the human touch and are a solitary experience. Wellness centers are often expensive and constrained by their physical locations.

Coaches help alleviate stress and re-establish personal focus, but existing coaching marketplaces are inadequate. They have inconsistent quality of coaches and are expensive as a typical 45 minute session costs nearly $300. High quality therapists are just as expensive and even harder to find. Also, seeing a therapist is considered a stigma by many. Many people who want to take preventative initiatives don’t want or need to see a therapist. A key reason for the high cost of effective live mental health support is the low number of service providers available.

We stayed laser-focused on customers in 2020.

To actualize our vision of human flourishing, we believe in radically increasing the supply of live mental wellness support from real people. To test this hypothesis, we fast iterated a number of prototypes.

When we look at the great companies like Nike, Amazon, Apple, they all have a singular obsession over serving their customers with excellent products and services. From the inception of Flourish, we made the decision to invest more than dozens of hours every week talking with and watching our users interact with our product and services. We believe that the greatest source of innovation comes from understanding our customers. The several product iterations we had in 2020 reflect our desire to adapt to customer needs. By relentlessly studying and understanding our customers, we hope to build a product that they will love.

Our product experimentation ended up on Flourish Space, which we are launching in early January 2021. It is a shockingly affordable, safe and stress-free coaching service for young professionals to obtain peace, clarity, and flourishing lives. The basic services provided by licensed clinicians and professional coaches can be efficiently transferred to anyone who is emotionally intelligent. This new supply of coaches allows us to offer affordable effective coaching to the general public who are not clinically serious enough to need to see a therapist or psychiatrist.

Goals for 2021

We are on Day 1 of understanding our brain and its impact on our overall well-being. We are even earlier in adopting practices to help us flourish mentally. We will focus on becoming the market leader in this fast growing market. Our strategy is to deliver high quality services to customers at a shockingly more affordable price than existing options. This requires us to partner with the right domain experts including psychologists, psychiatrists and coaches to develop a robust and efficient system to train Flourish Coaches so we can increase the supply of competent service providers to the American public.

“A thousand mile journey starts with your first step,” says an ancient proverb. We took that step in 2020. Should we remain vigilant, curious, and maintain a sense of urgency, we might move closer to our mission of advancing human flourishing.

Paul Chen
Founder and CEO
Flourish Tech, Inc.