My mental well-being firm, Peak Mind, hit the market this year, in the middle of a pandemic. Our company is receiving national exposure, including “Top 20 Startups to Watch with a Diverse Founder” in Forbes, “Bold New Businesses Started in 2020” in the New York Times and mention in the Indianapolis Business Journal.
I founded Peak Mind to help enhance products and services for the mental well-being market. Our first product is an app that provides actionable steps for employees to improve their well-being in the workplace, especially during the additional mental stresses caused by the recent pandemic, both at home and at work. Regardless of race, gender identity and socioeconomic status, these actionable steps aim to help every member of the organization because stress and mindset do not discriminate. Our world has changed this year, as a whole and for each of us, individually. Even before 2020, mental stress was pervasive — and now, it too is an epidemic.
Our recent success is, in part, thanks to the mentors that made this journey with me these past preparatory years while we built our extensive well-being platform. I’ve had to drink from the firehose to get “trial by fire” training in the tech industry. It has taken no small amount of persistence and stamina. Not only am I a “woman of color” business owner, I am a 40-year-old founder, which puts me in another minority bracket of “older entrepreneur” founders. The way I see it, we all face some sort of labeling from others. Being judged for any of the labels that others give us is not an easy thing. I drive my ideas and passion forward, choosing to not focus on those who don’t wish me the best. With this as my guidance, I choose to face challenges with hope and determination.
I started the journey of creating Peak Mind while working with interior design and corporate event clients over the past 15 years as a business owner, where I noticed there were mental wellness problems not being addressed in the workplace. I looked, unsuccessfully, for a product to purchase because I am deeply passionate about wellness, yet I couldn’t find any viable solutions that I could endorse. I decided to create that product: Our Peak Mind app provides customized, actionable steps to lower stress within the workplace utilizing a combination of technology, local experts and customized programming.
My passion for being a champion of mental well-being will help organizations reduce health care costs, low productivity and absenteeism while improving employee satisfaction, well-being and engagement. This is good for the world. I have an innate passion for research and data, and while I don’t have a technology background, I spent three years researching this broad subject, simultaneously learning how to become a tech entrepreneur. While working days to run my other profitable “proven” businesses, I spent nights and weekends prototyping my new innovation. I’ve spent literally thousands of hours speaking with others to find answers to market and technical questions.
What advice do I have for others thinking about starting up a company in this new world we live in? Find an idea that you want to champion, test the business idea, and be brave through the challenges that will come your way. Many of those challenges may be unforeseen, and chances are you won’t be able to read a book on how to maneuver them, so be ready to “fail fast” and keep going! I know I said “fail.” Because there is great chance that your idea will fail many times, mine has. But through persistence, you can and will achieve. Just what you may achieve may be different than you first set out with.
Many people ask me how they can be a well-being champion inside their organization. I generally say something like, “Kudos for caring. In times of crisis, please remember to care for yourself first and foremost. And remember that it is OK to take a day (or three!) off. Even superhero capes need to be sent out for dry cleaning. When you are rested and refreshed, follow us online at peakmindllc.com as we share ways in which you too can help others. Cheers to you for all you do, and let’s Peak together!”
Alicia E. Mckoy is founder and CEO of Peak Mind, a mental well-being technology platform.