The Atlantic Institute for Resilience is going digital.
AIR, as it’s known, was founded by Halifax psychiatrist Jackie Kinley in 2014 as a private enterprise that would help workers overcome stress and other mental health challenges. Kinley is now getting traction from major corporations and organizations in the region, so she is working on a digital product to enhance her work.
When she started her venture, she took the project through the Starting Lean course at Dalhousie University, which helped her to understand the market demands for such a product. Now that she’s bringing a digital component to the enterprise, she has been accepted into Incite, the new virtual accelerator offered by Propel ICT. She hopes that will help her to develop an app that can help her clients’ employees and to increase AIR’s business savvy.
Kinley said the overall goal is to address mental health issues before they’re major problems.
“It’s the whole idea that one in five people are dealing with [mental health problems],” said Kinley. “The people aren’t broken. The system is broken in how we’re thinking of them.”
Kinley said there are four phases involved in people taking leave because of mental health issues: one, they’re fine; two, they’re sad; three, they’re angry, at which point they are often assigned to an employee assistance program, or EAP; and four, they’re disturbed. At Phase 4, employees are usually off work and in long-term treatment.
Kinley’s goal with AIR is to work with people before they get to Phase 3. When she’s successful, a swath of the workforce could be spared a painful illness, and employers don’t have to pay for expensive programs or non-performing workers. That’s why she’s getting buy-in from several large employers.
AIR now has a corporate program that works with employees in large organizations, introducing them to exercises and practices that can help them work through their challenges. The next step in its development will be to introduce Mpower, an app that helps employees to work on the material on their own.
“The app is how I roll it out to employees,” she said. “We are figuring out how to use technology to help us to scale.”
AIR has contracted developers to help build Mpower, which she hopes to introduce to clients in 2019. Kinley says the company spent about two years finding its ideal market, and now it has the structure in place to sell its material to willing clients. What she needs now is a senior executive to help grow AIR and turn it into a scaling business. She added that one reason she’s going through the Incite program is to learn more about positioning AIR so that it’s able to scale.
Asked if she was considering raising capital, Kinley said that she’d hope that the senior executive she brings in would have an understanding of how to raise capital. She herself is a psychiatrist and she wants to enhance the business expertise on the team.
What she does know is that after a few years of trying to find a product-market fit, she is feeling pull from the market.
“Sales have at least tripled in 2018,” she said. “In 2018, we have people coming to us.”
Disclosure: Dalhousie University and Propel ICT are clients of Entrevestor.