5 minute read
Case Study

jumpingMinds uses AI and a human touch to deliver mental healthcare

The jumpingMinds team

How this Indian startup harnesses AI to inform and build a full-stack mental health solution and community

To tackle the stigmatized and often inaccessible mental healthcare landscape in India, Ariba Khan and co-founder Piyush Gupta are building jumpingMinds, an anonymous and safe space created to address mental health challenges through personalized solutions and a “friends therapy” model, which offers their members a community of like-minded people and experts they can talk to anonymously via a matching algorithm.

jumpingMinds was conceived in late 2020 when Ariba witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the mental health of her family, friends, colleagues, and peers. With eight years of experience in the sector, Ariba already knew the challenges facing the mental health industry—and those who needed access to mental healthcare. Due to a shortage of mental health professionals in India, Ariba says she and her co-founder Piyush Gupta “knew we wanted to help address these challenges and create something related to mental health, but figured the traditional approach might not work due to [cost and] lack of accessibility.”

Ariba continues, “The journey was definitely difficult given that the mental health landscape in India is still developing. We had to go through a lot of regular challenges that founders are faced with when building a startup from the ground up in addition to finding creative ways to mitigate the stigma around mental health that exists in India.”

One of their biggest hurdles was the Indian market’s unwillingness to pay for mental healthcare. “In India, the insurance sector is still lagging behind compared to the U.S. Most insurance doesn’t cover mental health, and many people are not that open to the idea of therapy,” explains Ariba. “Helping people realize that this is valuable care for living a holistic life is something we’ve focused on,” she adds.

With this context in mind, the founders created a comprehensive mental health and wellness solution. The platform features an easy onboarding process across mobile operating systems, and a profile matching algorithm that connects users to empathetic peers or professional experts who resonate with their experiences.

Beyond facilitating conversations, the jumpingMinds app offers an array of diverse features, encompassing a collection of self-care tools that span alternative therapies including yoga, meditation, engaging content, humor therapy, and soothing soundscapes. jumpingMinds’ 24/7 AI friend, Snuggles, diligently tends to users' mental health needs.

The platform's commitment to safety and impact is reinforced through use of leading technology and algorithms, including Natural Language Processing (NLP), Sentiment Analysis, Word Analysis, Profanity Detection, and other moderation techniques. Each user is provided with a control panel during every conversation to report, block, ask the expert, or delete their entire data.

One of jumpingMinds' standout offerings is its "Mindful Warrior" (or “mWarrior”) feature, which empowers users to extend their support to the community. By becoming an mWarrior, individuals not only contribute to the well-being of others but also have the opportunity to earn up to $1000 per month. This distinctive feature focuses on fostering connections, kindness, and collective growth.

“The idea is that whenever anyone is feeling stressed, they can visit the jumpingMinds platform to find like-minded friends, support groups, as well as experts to feel better instantly, whenever and wherever,” says Ariba. “The best part is that it’s anonymous, safe, and affordable.”

Leveraging AI and Google technologies

The analytics speak for themselves: “Mental health apps have an engagement time of around 10-15 minutes on average, but jumpingMinds has a daily user engagement time of 35 minutes,” says Ariba. “It really shows that people keep coming back to the app, find more people similar to them in the community, forge new connections, and feel better.”

“Our data tells us that people who have used jumpingMinds for over three months and have constantly engaged with it see a 30% positive shift in their mood curve.”

Ariba tells us that jumpingMinds uses a variety of AI algorithms for sentiment analysis and matching accurate user personas. For this, she says,“technology, specifically AI, came to our rescue. AI algorithms help us to ensure an optimal experience and personalize every user’s experience, because a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with mental health.” If users want to talk to a community member or a bot itself, the solutions are always available. “AI allowed us to provide scalability, availability, and overall an affordable solution that costs 10x less than talking to a traditional mental health professional,” says Ariba. In addition to AI, jumpingMinds leverages Google technologies including Firebase and Google Ads. The platform relies on Firebase for analytical insights and robust debugging tools, and the cost-free tool has also supported the startup through efficient resource allocation. Their growth trajectory has also been significantly aided by Google Ads—through precision-targeted Search Campaigns, jumpingMinds is able to connect with individuals actively seeking mental health solutions, thus optimizing costs and outreach. Ariba tells us, “Google Ads has evolved into a cornerstone of our marketing strategy.”

jumpingMinds affiliation with the Google for Startups Accelerator program has accrued the company over $100k in Google Cloud credits. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) enables the platform to facilitate hundreds of hours of conversations every day for users seeking help; the GCP credits have also been used to train their AI models with 40 Mn+ data points collected over time.

Participating in Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders in India

After discovering, applying, and being selected to be part of the first cohort of Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders in India, Ariba’s goals going into the 10-week program included meeting as many mentors and founders as possible to exchange as many ideas as possible and to improve the product itself.

“The Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders program is one of the most innovative accelerator programs in the Indian landscape,” says Ariba. “Not many accelerators have a women founders cohort, so I was very interested when I heard about it.”

The technical aspect of Accelerator: Women Founders was especially impactful for jumpingMinds: “We were already using AI algorithms but having 1:1 discussions with Google’s technical experts helped us immensely improve these algorithms, think more about the user and different users’ reactions, and learn how to better utilize data,” says Ariba. “The mentors really helped us in redesigning the product UI/UX in optimizing the user journey itself, and making it seamless for our users.”

During Accelerator: Women Founders, jumpingMinds was also connected to other founders who specialize in digital marketing, which helped the team streamline their digital marketing strategy as well as define different user personas.

“As a first-time founder, one of my biggest learnings from the Accelerator program is learning how to be more selective and targeted in my approach and learning how to say no rather than always saying yes to everything,” says Ariba.

Currently, jumpingMinds is also part of the 2023 cohort of Google's Appscale Academy, a six-month training program that helps Indian startups to supercharge their growth on Android.

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What’s next for jumpingMinds

As jumpingMinds looks forward, they are focused on being more predictive about mental health and expanding to new regions. After seeing great success with users in India, they plan to expand across the rest of Asia-Pacific as well as the United States.

On the product side, the company is developing an AI dashboard where users will be able to track their moods. Ariba hopes the dashboard will be able to track, analyze, and ultimately improve users’ mental health by providing transparency and predictivity around the variables that impact their mood.“For example, if the jumpingMinds platform sees that a user hasn’t been sleeping for the last few days and has been talking a lot about work stress, the platform preventively and predictively sends a notification before the user reaches burnout, and shares suggested exercises to avoid it,” Ariba says.

Since participating in Google for Startups Accelerator, jumpingMinds has been awarded Most Inspiring App of the Year from Google Play, revamped their entire UI / UX design, and launched a B2B2C offering.

Ariba’s advice for other women founders? “Investor alignment with your mission and getting funds from the right investors who will be patient as you work through critical challenges is crucial. It took us around a year to raise a first round and another to raise a second. However, we were able to find angel investors, platforms, and family offices that supported us and believed in our vision and mission.”

“The most inspiring experience about working on jumpingMinds is that people are not just feeling better but contributing and making others feel better as well,” says Ariba.

Learn more about jumpingMinds