I believe the startup industry is on the brink of a revolution of sorts. For too long founder wellness and mental health has been put on the back burner, left on the subs bench as merely an afterthought. In my opinion, something has to change, and we, along with the help of others, are going to be the ones to change it.

We’re starting from the beginning

The first few decisions made within a few months of launching a startup can be critical for long-term success. A decision to give up a sizeable chunk of equity early on from an accelerator programme can leave founders with less control than they anticipated. This can happen before startups have really hit the ground running and evaluated whether the idea solves a true business issue. The early days of starting a business are challenging enough, starting from scratch and trying to build a good product and customer base on top of dealing with constant pressure including around business valuations.

With a breadth of experience in the startup industry our team have grown tired of inequality, extreme pressure and the high-barriers to entry that plague the startup space. What we’re doing at StateZero is trying to shake up the accelerator space offering startups using blockchain technology a £50k equity-free investment. That’s a grant, with no strings attached, and the opportunity to use it on whatever is needed, lowering the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs who may not be able to rely on personal finance or connections at the early stages of their business.

 

Healthy Founders, Healthy Businesses

As an accelerator we’re at the crux point, and have a unique position to be able to set the standard for startups, accelerators, investors and potentially even larger corporations. When juggling HR, Finance, Operations, Marketing, Sales etc between two or three founders it’s difficult not to get pulled into 60+ hour working weeks. Life in entrepreneurship isn’t easy and especially as, according to the charity, Mind, one in four of us will experience mental health problems even outside of the startup space. Inside the entrepreneurship space, a recent survey by the Great British Entrepreneur awards found 58% of entrepreneurs suffering from mental health problems. As startup founders, we all want to make sure that everyone is happy and feel like we have a responsibility to not let anyone down and constantly portray externally that everything is fine, but at the end of the day it’s ok to not be ok.

At StateZero, we want to approach all forms of ‘mental health’ in an equal and fair manner and we want to do all we can to help with that. Using our unique position, as part of our programme we’re building in fitness, mindfulness, yoga, nutrition and even cooking demonstrations to name a few. We believe this should be should be an essential part of all accelerators, to foster an environment of healthy, happier founders to permeate into the business when they come to hiring employees or even grow into a FTSE 100 company. A business where the founders have a positive mental wellbeing will help to ensure a great working environment and likely, heightened business success.

 

Looking forward

Having been a founder of few startups and a not-for-profit previously, I’ve felt the weight of pressure on my shoulders, suffering days of doubt and depression. I’m by no means an expert, and have recently taken up Yoga and downloaded Headspace (a great mindfulness app) but I’m proud of the work we’re doing at StateZero to be able to tackle founder wellness and mental health. I’m looking forward to the future where I hope to see many other accelerators, investors, startups and corporates making meaningful change in improving both founder and employee wellness and mental health inside and outside of the workplace. At StateZero, this is just the beginning in terms of mental health and wellbeing. We have a number of initiatives to be announced in due course that we are planning, in order to take this one step further.

 

Our StateZero office — a great working environment.

This post was written by Charles Kerr.