“I am just so freaking excited about TV advertising!” Interview with Farina Schurzfeld, Co-founder of online therapy platform Selfapy
Online therapy platform Selfapy stole the show at last year’s SevenVentures Pitch Day winning €3 million in TV advertising, creation of a TV spot, online advertising and mentoring program with Proctor & Gamble. We caught up with Selfapy co-founder and CMO Farina Schurzfeld who told us how the 7VPD prize will help Selfapy realise their passion: ensuring immediate psychological help for those in need.
Tell us about your product Farina. What brought you to the idea and why should we be using it?
Selfapy offers a range of 3- to 6-month programs designed to assist people in psychologically stressful situations. Our courses - which are either offered online, over the telephone with a psychologist or a combination of both - are based on cognitive behavioural therapy approaches. When we started Selfapy it was our goal to deliver immediate help to those in need. So often you hear stories about mentally ill patients having to wait too long for therapy. And it’s not only due to a lack of provision. There are a variety of reasons why people find it difficult to attend appointments with psychologists. Our courses are an easy and accessible way for mentally sick people to access the psychological help they need immediately.
You won SevenVentures Pitch Day 2018, congratulations! Why does TV advertising appeal and why do you think Selfapy is a product well suited to TV advertising?
I am just so freaking excited about TV advertising! TV means that we can reach the masses directly in their living rooms, and get the word out to those who wouldn’t normally seek help. Through TV advertising they will know that Selfapy exists and that our courses are covered by many of the major health insurance companies. It also normalises and builds confidence in our product. There is still a huge stigmatism around mental health in this country. We want to make sure people know it is ok to seek help.
We haven’t filmed our spot yet but is due to go live in a few weeks. We are super excited to see the first results!
What did your marketing strategy look like before you won 7VPD? How has it changed?
We only did standard online advertising really, mainly on Facebook. With the SevenVentures Pitch Day prize we will be able to reach people through TV advertising, and we have also recently started a new additional Out of Home campaign.
In your view how does the digital health market look at the moment? Where do you see the boundary between Selfapy and the wellness apps currently on the market?
The digital health market is really booming – people are slowly recognising that a digital solution can often provide effective help in the mental health space. I am a huge Headspace fan, and we have also just launched our own app where people can log their moods, emotions and corresponding behaviour. But essentially these apps are completely separate to Selfapy’s core offer – which is a product designed to help the truly mentally sick, people with clinical problems.
Some people say that building a direct, face-to-face relationship with a therapist is important. What do you say to these critics?
I would say that for the most sick, this is the most important thing of course and we don’t see our product ever replacing this. But for many, telephone contact with a psychologist is a good way of building a relationship. Our users are really happy with this method, and from the feedback it seems it really inspires confidence.
What would you say to start-ups thinking about applying for 7VPD 2019?
Do it! The prize in itself is something special. Before applying we knew that TV advertising was the right choice for us: not only to reach the broad mass of people and make them aware of our product but also to de-stigmatise the broader topic of mental health.