Ekaterina Alipiev née Karabasheva (Founder, CEO) and Vivian Otto (Head of Operations) © Jasper Kettner
What inspired you to found your startup?
Having suffered from anorexia throughout my adolescence, it was my goal to facilitate the rocky path of recovery for others. Today therapy is still quite pen-and-paper heavy, which often creates an additional obstacle for patients. Journaling your food intake and emotional stability does not only require time, steady motivation but also courage, as one is asked to walk around with a sheet of paper. Experiencing this, I knew that I had to change things and find an easier more discrete method.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
Jourvie’s aim is to maximise impact – namely guiding and supporting patients towards an eating disorder free life. For us success is measured by each user who feels empowered to not use our support tool anymore. One could say that in a nutshell we are working towards making our product obsolete someday. Our approach certainly strongly contrasts the one of typical e-commerce startups.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
We strongly believe in the power of trial and error. Each mistake and misconception ultimately improves business skills and broadens the horizon. Being pushed and nudged out of your comfort zone is actually a hidden chance to start thinking outside the box. And I think this is a defining skill of successful entrepreneurs. However in hindsight we would have been thankful to have known how time intense many developments and steps are – more patience would have certainly contributed to our sanity.
What problem does your product solve?
Recovering from an eating disorder can be quite a difficult process. Many obstacles need to be taken – one of these being the manual journaling of your food intake and emotional stability. Therapy suggests that self-observation is a pivotal element of the healing process. However in our highly digitised 21st century, carrying a pen and paper with you at all times is outdated which is why many skip this step. For therapy to be impactful it needs to adjust to today’s requests and possibilities.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
1 year – further collaboration projects with relevant healthcare providers
5 years – additional products in the field of eating disorders – not only for the therapy, but also for the timely diagnosis, as well as aftercare
10 years – digitised elements in the therapy of eating disorders are scientifically recognised and have been been implemented as a medical standard. Furthermore, patient aftercare has improved, consequently leading to a decreased relapse and mortility rate
How are you different?
Jourvie’s unique value proposition is that we combine a patient perspective with scientifically proven therapy methods. Sensitive to patients’ needs, the tool is fine-tuned to the emotional vulnerability of those affected and is neither moralizing nor judgemental. Furthermore, the tool was developed along the international guidelines of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This ensures the quality of therapy. Thus we provide a mix of traditional therapy methods with novel channels of communication.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
The Jourvie app is used daily, ideally after each meal.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
Jourvie was founded as a non-profit and offers the app for free on both platforms, Android and iOS. We wish for all patients, regardless of their financial situation, to have access to supporting tools. By collaborating with strong partners in the health field such as the Medical University Mainz and the health fund AOK Nordost, we aim to firmly integrate Jourvie into today’s medical infrastructure. We believe that this interconnectedness with increase benefits and accessibility of the tool.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
I have always found the Berlin startup scene very open in terms of exchanging experiences and providing feedback to each other. In the recent years, the digital health startup scene has grown and also in this domain I find the same openness and broad-mindedness which I find very nourishing for the development of the scene in general.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
Berlin has a very vibrant startup scene. Especially the digital health community has grown incredibly over the last years. However it’s still small enough to be considered a tightknit ecosystem in which one can exchange experiences and ideas with like-minded peers. This proves to be helpful time and again. Being situated in the capital, close to the government, is very useful when establishing a network and looking for the right contact person.
Jourvie was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.