Spotlight On: Rishi Kumar

This weeks spotlight is on co-founder and CEO of mental health app Zeal:

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name’s Rishi, I’m 33 and I live in West London. I am the co-founder of Zeal which is a mental wellbeing app. In my spare time I enjoy making ice cream.

What made you want to start Zeal?

Prior to the pandemic I had spent about two years feeling quite down and suffering from poor mental health. It was during the beginning of the first lockdown I thought to my self “there is going to be a lot of people like me who are working professionals, with a big family and lots of friends but are going to experience that feeling of uncertainty and loneliness throughout this period”. The idea for Zeal was born.

What challenges have you faced developing an app?

Initially finding the right talent to design and develop the app was very challenging. We knew the branding and design was going to be something we needed to get right. Luckily, we found an amazing design/UX team however finding a coder who was within our budget and could deliver within our timescales was not so easy. This process alone took around six months. The first developer we used failed to deliver the product we had in mind, so we had to go back to the drawing board. It was a frustrating start to an exciting project.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

A few actually. Being awarded a government grant for Zeal. This allowed us to get the project started. We then managed to get into London South Bank University’s health tech incubator which has been a great experience. I recently also just received a two-star Great Taste award for my chocolate ice cream. Many say mental health and ice cream are two peas in a pod.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I like to try and get to the gym 3-4 times a week, it’s my time out. I also absolutely love the theatre and plays and am fortunate to be in London where we are so spoilt. It really is my escapism. Other than that, I like time on my own but also spending time with my friends and family.

What does work-life balance mean to you?

This is a difficult one because I’ve struggled a lot with this in the past. But for me work-life balance is now listening to my body and making sure I’m taking regular moments in my week to focus on my mind and body. It’s also saying yes, a lot more to non-work-related things. I’ve understood the hard way the importance of time out and re-fueling. There are sometimes days in the week where I don’t feel like doing anything and now I won’t. But I know that time will be made up at another point in the week, so I no longer feel bad about it or beat myself up over it.

What’s next for you/your business?

I’m currently just working on telling as many people as possible about Zeal and our fantastic service but I’m also working on the next phase of Zeal and understanding what our users want.

What advice do you have for people starting out?

My first piece of advice is to do your research. Make sure there is a demand and market for your idea. Then test this as quickly and cheaply as possible to make sure people will pay for what you are offering. You should also think about building a community early on, even if your product isn’t publicly available. So, when you are ready to launch you have people to tell.
Finally, I always tell people to just start and not overthink it. So many people dream of starting a business but keep putting it off, you’ll never know if you’re cut out for it till you try so take a leap of faith.

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