3rd november 2014: Startup of the week: Ginsberg

For this 'Startup of the week' post, I caught up with Kate Ho, Product Manager at Scottish startup, Ginsberg.

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with Ginsberg]


1. What is Ginsberg?
Ginsberg helps you understand yourself better, by tracking your mental and emotional wellbeing and how it correlates to other factors in your life, such as sleep, steps, exercise, alcohol, food and social information. From tracking these factors over time, Ginsberg provides you smart and personalised insights into how you feel and what affects your overall wellbeing.

2. Could you explain the essence of Ginsberg, i.e it's core values?
Ginsberg is a totally private and safe place for users to externalise and reflect on what’s happening in their lives. This means that data privacy is extremely important to us, and Ginsberg does not try to encourage changes or judge users (for example, telling them to move more or drink less). It is for you to get to know yourself better, and make your own choices.

3. What's the business model you're operating under?
We are a project of the Scottish Government, and receive funding.

4. Is there anyone else doing the same as you?
At present, no. There are some apps out there which do account for mood tracking against external data, but none as in-depth as Ginsberg. We’ve created a 18 point wellbeing dataset that is based on pre-existing clinical evidence to provide deep and meaningful insights.

5. Was there one moment which compelled you to begin the journey of working on Ginsberg?
I can’t say there was one particular moment. Ginsberg came out of the realisation that there was a huge gap in health services for individuals who do not have a mental illness, however may have difficulties coping from time to time or need an extra bit of help. People are looking online more and more to find solutions, so following years of research, it was the obvious solution to use technology to help people.

6. What have reactions to Ginsberg been? Do different people perceive it differently?
We launched into open-beta only last week, and the reactions have been great. Different people use it in different ways, which is how we created it to work, so we’re very happy with this. As a beta-phase, we are collecting feedback and in just 5 days of going live have had some great feedback and feature requests on our UserVoice.

7. Given that Silicon Valley is the world's innovation hub, it's inspiring to see a startup from Scotland pushing boundaries. Do you see more ground breaking innovations in Digital Health coming from outside Silicon Valley?
Absolutely! In the UK, Europe, and all around the world, more startup spaces and incubators are being born all the time. I think the trend will grow as more success stories are born outside of Silicon Valley, encouraging more entrepreneurs to stay at home to build their project. From our point of view, this is good news for the local Digital Health ecosystem, as more talent and ideas will stay in - or even journey to - Scotland and Europe.

8.    What are the weaknesses of Ginsberg and what are you doing to address them?
Ginsberg is only just launched into beta-phase, so we are not a finished and polished product by any means. We are also a very small team, aiming for very big goals.

9. Two years from now, in 2016, what would success for Ginsberg look like? What are the barriers to success?
We are currently looking in a short-term view to get 5000 beta users by the start of 2015. Two years from now, success would look like a stronger user base with an encompassing wellbeing platform that really helps people.

10.  If people feel inspired by your journey, and want to do something with technology to improve Global Health, what would your words of wisdom be?
Do it! Pick just one problem, and solve that. I would advise them to do their research, and create something from a user’s perspective. Talk to a lot of users, at every stage of development.

Ginsberg is on Twitter and click here for the Ginsberg website.