Best Android app of 2021, Being: Aiming to give everyone access to personal therapist, at all times – Times of India

Being is a personalised self-therapy app. Varun Gandhi is co-founder and CEO of the Being app. Varun aims to build a world where each one of us can have access to a personal therapist at all times. The foundation of this lies in Varun’s personal struggle with mental health. A passionate cricketer, chartered accountant, and self-taught design professional, Varun put on his entrepreneurial hat early in life. After receiving limited success with two of his startups, he turned to therapy to help him with his mental health during these challenging times. Through Being, he aims to help 1 billion with their mental health needs globally, by 2030, through the power of personalised self-therapy.
How did it feel to feature on Google Play’s Best of 2021 list in India?
It was an unbelievable feeling to see our app featured on the list. While it has been an interesting journey, we were in a fairly difficult situation in the beginning, to the extent that we almost ran out of funds. We could not hire engineers or psychologists. But we kept going. Over time, our engagement numbers increased, ratings touched nearly 5, and positive reviews poured in. Google Play noticed our work and helped us elevate our engagement numbers. We went from 500 new users in a week to 500 new users during breakfast. All of it is organic, thanks to Google Play. Eventually, investors noticed, and we closed our seed round in less than 10 days.
What do you think is the USP of your app that has helped you get here?
We are making mental health very contextual and problem-driven. We think like a user. One of the most common feedback we receive from our users is that this feels so relatable – as if it’s made specifically for me. My co-founder, Abhishek, and I have led a significant amount of time dealing with our mental health issues. We have been there ourselves and know how it feels.
Most importantly, we deeply understand that no two anxieties are the same. Every individual will have a different issue that they might be facing, and therefore, it needs to be addressed in a customized manner. That’s our core belief and differentiator at Being.
How has the pandemic changed things for you, what has been the biggest learning across 2021?
The pandemic has definitely given a boost to mental health apps and services. Mental health has never been more talked about, ever. Usually, a taboo, today every household is discussing mental health, be it through acknowledgment or even denial.
In March 2021, we pivoted our offerings from spiritual wisdom to much more personalized mental healthcare services. As part of this, we have been working on key aspects such as anxiety and stress, relationships, focus and productivity, and more. And we have seen great success. We have added approximately 60K users in the past 6 months and have seen an astonishing weekly growth rate on Play Store. All of this through zero marketing spend. We are seeing great diversity in our user base. While 50% of our users are Gen-Z or women, 40% of our users today are outside India, primarily the US.
Our biggest learning has been that all 8 billion of us across the world need help. Issues may vary. Intensities may vary. The kind of help we need may vary. But we do need help.
What plans do you have for the app for next year?
Mental Health is one of the most complex problems of the modern world. It’s an issue that will always be around, and we need to do whatever it takes to find apt solutions. Our mission is to help one billion people by 2030. And 2022 is an important year for us. From a product standpoint, we want to lay a strong foundation for: Building the most diverse (and probably the largest) network of mental health professionals around the world; designing the ‘most human’ mini-therapy experience; and lastly, craft the most personalized (and nonlinear) A to B mental health journey for each user.
We want to dig a bit deeper into markets like the US and Canada, run some early experiments in G7 countries, reach our first million users mark, and successfully raise Series A funding in the second half of 2022 to scale up further.
Any message that you have for users of your app?
We just want to say that with Being, you are not going to find an app that tells, but a friend that helps.

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