More than 20 startups from North West Europe developing innovative solutions in mental health have been involved in IT4Anxiety. In order to know more about their experience, the difficulties encountered, the contribution of an involvement in a European project such as IT4Anxiety but also to discuss possible actions beyond the project, we organised 4 focus groups with the managers of these young innovative companies: Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands and France/Belgium. These focus groups lasted between 60 and 90 minutes and were conducted by video conference.
The aim of these meeting was to better understand the challenges and opportunities along with design strategies that individuals/teams adopted during the development of their business and later the development and implementation of their technology. These questions had 3 key objectives: to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses when attempting to develop an e-mental health tool; to understand the design strategies adopted by businesses when attempting to development e-mental health tools to reduce risk ; to explore the difference in design strategies between established and start-up businesses or those who are developing a product for the first time vs those with experience in product development.
The entrepreneurs took turns answering a dozen questions, in complete transparency. For example, the following points were addressed:
- What prompted the idea of this product? Was it driven purely by market need or a specific moment of inspiration?
- What would you say was the most significant barrier affecting the development of your technology?
- How did you ensure the technology you are were developing met user needs?
- Were you successful in finding users for your technology?
- If you were to start this process again from the start, what would you do differently?
The exchanges were summarised and are very useful to better understand the difficulties but also the expectations of startups in mental health. And whatever the country, the conclusions are more or less the same.