Helsa uses a matching algorithm to connect LGBTQ+ people in need with therapists

Marc Svensson founded Helsa to support LGBTQ+ people in need through technology

As a social psychologist and PhD researcher in LGBTQ+ mental health, Marc Svensson started Helsa to help close the mental health gap affecting the LGBTQ+ community at disproportionately higher rates compared to the general population.

“Due to the heteronormative society we grow up and live in, LGBTQ+ people suffer more from common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety,” says Svensson. “This is caused by unique stressors many of us experience, such as stigma, internalised homophobia and concealment of identity.

Svensson created Helsa as an online platform that uses a matching algorithm to connect LGBTQ+ people in need with specialised therapists in a highly personalised manner. Users gain access to resources such as wellbeing tests, articles about mental health and a therapy requirements questionnaire, and get a matching score for each of the partner therapists currently active on the platform, based on their specific requirements and needs.

At Conception X, Svensson found a supportive yet challenging environment that helped him build his self-esteem as an entrepreneur.

“It’s a fantastic programme, in a different league to many others,” he says. “The coaches helped me realise my startup and I are entwined and I’m the right person to lead it. They helped me learn how to run all the different parts of the company — how to talk about it in an engaging way, how to manage teams and the workload, how to delegate.”

For Svensson, Conception X also helped him carve out his ideal role at the intersection of research and industry.

“I’m somewhat academic but I also have a commercial background. Helsa allows me to do research and create impact out in the real world,” he says.

Recently, Svensson and his team have started delivering sexual and gender minority training to staff at leading companies, such as Richemont and Deliveroo. Request for the service is growing organically, to the point that they are now developing an LGBTQ+ training and support subscription tool for companies on its platform, expected to launch in early 2021.

For Svensson, this is all part of the same mission: playing a key role in improving the wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community by also involving colleagues, parents and allies in the journey.

In the long term, he plans to grow the startup beyond the UK — “the vision is to go global, to be everywhere,” he says.

Svensson has some advice for other entrepreneurs who will be joining Conception X in 2021. “Engage and participate in everything, even if you have done some of it before or you think you already know something,” he says. “Don’t miss a session. The quality of the speakers is exceptional and you will always come away from each training session with a bunch of knowledge you didn’t have before. Make the most of it.”

Svensson pitching Helsa at CX Demo Day 2020. Apply here to join next year’s cohort

Venture builders creating deeptech startups from leading research labs and PhD programmes around the UK. conceptionx.org