Groups we're serving

Mental health and social connection

Inspiration

We were surprised when we heard our friends complain about missing their morning commute despite the fact that they were often cramped up in a stranger's armpit while standing in the London Underground. They valued this time to draw a boundary between their lives at work and at home, and Work From Home had blurred this line.

Most of the working population made this uncomfortable, time-consuming, non-negotiable journey twice a day. After COVID-related lockdowns were imposed around the world, user behaviours changed radically; people lost this 'transitional buffer' and research shows that the intermingling of work and home responsibilities increases the chances of burnout, decreases performance and job satisfaction, and in some cases, instigates mental health issues. This is particularly an issue for working parents who are juggling childcare, household responsibilities, and work simultaneously.

These insights from friends and family are supported by data we found from papers written by Harvard Business Review and Cambridge University. There are also a number of articles about the significance of a daily commute by the BBC and other news outlets.

What it does

Zoop is an online platform that helps you draw a distinct boundary between your work and home lives, allowing you to get into the right frame of mind for the responsibilities that each environment requires. Users can invite friends, family, and colleagues to take part in live workouts, meditation sessions, book club, mommy-and-me yoga, or even to sit and have a chat for a short while.

The sessions are primarily user-led, with content provided by Zoop to facilitate these sessions which are only available for a few hours before and after a user's daily working hours, similar to their daily commute. The aim is to promote social connection, create accountability, improve mental health, and boost performance and job satisfaction.

How we built it

The platform was built on JavaScript framework. We create ical invites and send them to the teams you form in Zoop, using SendGrid and MessageBird. We use Google's Firebase to host our database.

Why we're the right team to work on this idea

Joash and Abhi have been working together for several months launching projects both in India and the UK. Joash has a background in Software Development and Product Management, with experience leading teams and delivering projects that have generated millions of pounds in revenue for TUI, the largest travel and leisure company in the world. Abhi has a background in Product Design Engineering and experience in delivering human-centered design projects for both physical and digital products.

Our most impressive accomplishment was going from idea to launch with active users for a telemedicine platform for India in less than 2 months. We got 25 patients and 15 doctors to sign up for our service TeleDoc, all while operating remotely from the UK. We complement each other's skills well and have been through highs and lows together, often working 7 days a week while burning the midnight oil. We have access to communities in the UK within fitness, personal training, and other activities that could help us generate content.

Key unique insight that most people haven't thought of

People, including us, absolutely hate commuting, without realising its significance as a transitional buffer. With companies around the globe moving to remote working arrangements, and over 50% of employees opting to work from home for around 3 days in a week, the market is close to its conception and is growing rapidly. Employers and individuals have not considered the long-term impact of this decision, especially on people's mental health. This also has detrimental effects on job satisfaction and performance. Helping create a distinct boundary between work and home life is the key to achieving balance, preventing burnout, and boosting productivity, all while leveraging the power of community and relationships.

Challenges we ran into

User behaviours have changed drastically, and many people who once had a morning routine now wake up 10 minutes before their first meeting, chomping down a bowl of cereal while browsing through emails. Since people don't have to wake up early to commute, they now go to bed later, and this creates a vicious cycle. The biggest challenge would be to create an experience so irresistible, that users wouldn't mind jumping out of bed each morning, and logging in to Zoop twice a day to engage with friends, family, and colleagues. This is an incredibly interesting and fun challenge to try to solve!

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We joined the hackathon pretty late. We had an idea on Wednesday, did some research, and built a hi-fi mockup and a prototype, all within 4 to 5 days. We'd love to commercialise this idea and put it out for people around the world to use.

What we learned

Speaking to mental health professionals such as Dr Josh Morgan, we learned that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is more of an issue for people who are unfamiliar with the principle of remote work. The uncertainty of layoffs and furloughs looming over people's heads creates an added dimension of stress. With a lot of health insurance programs being tied to work, this also negatively impacts people's mental health.

We have been speaking with prospective users to understand what would get them out of bed in the morning and have been exploring the methodology of Motivational Interviewing to understand people's values.

What's next for Zoop

1) Call a bunch of users to find their pain points and spot our early adopters. 2) Private beta with early adopters who will invite their friends, family, and colleagues for Zoop to be useful (network effect). 3) Iterate using feedback during private beta and work out which activities are the most popular. 4) Create a mailing list with new users and launch again. 5) Add more activities and generate a lot of content. 6) Rinse and repeat.

Are you planning to continue working on this after July 12th?

Yes.

Help from mentors

  • Assistance with commercialisation of the platform, business models, and finding product-market fit.
  • Access to their network to spread the word about Zoop in multiple markets.
  • Collaboration to create engaging content that users will want to get out of bed for every morning.
  • Provide strategic advice and guidance about upcoming trends.
  • Provide insights and direction to design marketing plans and make technological decisions.

  • Mentors we think could help with the above based on their interests and experience: Lonnie Rae, Shira Lazar, Anima Sarah LaVoy, Justin Kan, Dr Josh Morgan, Ricky Robinett. We'd love to be connected to others that find the product interesting.

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