[Startup story] Nelma | Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022 Batch

[Startup story] Nelma | Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022 Batch

September 1, 2022

Nelma is one of the 22 startups selected in the Rubik Garage accelerator 2022 Batch, from over 120 international applicants. Discover its story below. 

First of all, we would like to know who’s behind the keyboard.

Heyo, I am Georgi Mihailov, the founder of Nelma.io. I studied finance and after a very short stint at a bank, I decided to learn to code. I went to an academy and after 6 months I got my first internship at a tech company. This is how my journey started. After 2 years of working for other companies, I decided to start my own and compete in the real world.

I like reading sci-fi and non-fiction books, rock climbing and beer. 🙂

Tell us more about Nelma. What problem do you solve? Who’s your audience?

According to ourworldindata.org, there are currently more than 600million people affected by anxiety or depression alone. Furthermore, mental health issues result in losing almost 6 million years of healthy life per year, which in turn, results in losing almost 1 trillion USD per year. I believe that this is a serious problem worth solving.

My research showed that in order to start fixing this, we need to work on accessibility. This means educating people to become aware of the challenges first. After this, you need to make it easy for people to find the right solution for them and their specific challenges and you must make it financially accessible in the end. I started my company to work on these issues.

Nelma’s mission is to introduce millions of people to counseling and improve their lives by building tools that make mental healthcare more accessible.

Currently, we have more than 60 licensed experts who are available for our customers in many different ways. Clients can ask questions anonymously, get free advice, track their mood and share it with their psychologist, and of course, they can book an online session via chat, audio or video. 

What motivated you to create this startup? What’s your „why”?

It’s very interesting for me when I think about how it all started. So, before I started the company, I was in this period of my life where my ambition started to develop and I started working on personal development by reading books. It was not self-help books or anything, it was mostly non-fiction and sci-fi books, but these books had a very positive effect on my life.

Seeing that I was growing and developing, I wanted to see my surroundings and society around me developing too. Naturally, I started giving out books to a lot of people. Turns out, not everyone wants to read. This is when I started to think about a solution that would nudge people to read more and I started developing an app.

I was discussing features with friends and potential customers and one of the features included leveraging the close relationships we have with our friends in order for them to motivate the app user to work on their goals. This sparked a whole conversation, because even though friends might have the best intentions for you, they don’t necessarily give the best advice. From here, I and people who later became part of the team decided that it would be best to introduce professional psychologists into the mix. I built the first MVP, got 7 psychologists on the platform and this is how it all started. 🙂

How is your startup different from competitors?

Unlike other companies that help the client find a psychologist, we focus on helping the psychologist find the client who they can impact the most. This is really important considering that our mission is to introduce new people to counseling, people who have not tried it before. Usually, people who haven’t been to therapy or counseling before have no idea how it works or what kind of value they can get from it. Accordingly, it’s very hard for newcomers to figure out what they need and who they need to talk to.

What we do is we help the customer anonymously share their current situation and then using an algorithm we find the psychologists who are most fit to help them. All you have to do as a customer is take less than 5 minutes and share the current challenge, that’s it.

Do you have a team supporting you in your mission?

There is a team of people involved in building this business. We have a Ph.D. psychologist who is advising and helping us with all questions related to psychology. We have a great UX/UI expert with more than 13 years of experience and we have a Harvard CS and Economics graduate helping and advising in multiple areas. Moreover, our team also includes a software engineer and a salesperson with proven passion for social impact.

Of course, we do have some more advisors for different areas of the business.

What are the biggest rewards of being a startup founder?

For me, I feel the best when I know that my team and I get to shape a very important part of our customers’ lives. It is very empowering and rewarding when you can literally see how your day-to-day job affects the lives of people. We even have some days when we just sit and read the reviews of what people say about their psychologists to boost our energy 🙂 

On the contrary, what are the biggest challenges?

With great power comes great responsibility :). Building a product that has such an impact on a life is a great responsibility. The decisions we make can have huge consequences, so making them can be quite challenging. 

Georgi Mihailov

What made you apply to our accelerator Rubik Garage?

We wanted to enter our second market (Romania) and we did some research on how to connect with the ecosystem there. Rubik Garage was recommended by a friend and seemed like a great place to start. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw all the benefits of joining Rubik Hub and enjoyed my time in Piatra Neamt.

What are your top 3 learnings of the acceleration program?

  1. It’s always about the people.
  2. When you are starting, be very specific about what problem you are solving and for who.
  3. Community is one of the most important benefits that you can create for people

What do you like in the Rubikorns Startup Community?

I really like that people are helping each other all the time. I’ve asked for help numerous times and always had someone go above and beyond to help me. 

What are your plans for Nelma for the next 6-12 months?

We are planning to grow in the Romanian market now by offering the most value to people here. We will get to around 150-200 psychologists and we will contribute to creating content that will educate and raise awareness.

What message do you have for other startup founders?

Just do it. 

What is your special power?

I can speak an (almost) dead language. Maybe around 200k people in the world know how to speak it.

We encourage you to support Nelma and follow its journey on Facebook.

Stay tuned to discover the story behind the other startups from the Rubik Garage accelerator! #WeAreInThisTogether

Rubik Garage is an equity-free acceleration program aiming to support startups from CEE. We are helping early-stage startups get to their first paying customer, raise investment or go international.

The accelerator started with a Founders Bootcamp in Piatra Neamt. Four months of acceleration will culminate with a Demo Day in September, where startups get the chance to pitch their startup in front of investors. For the most motivated teams, the journey will continue in the next 6-12 months – our team will offer their full support to help them raise an investment round.

If you want to pre-apply for the next Rubik Garage edition, complete this form and be the first one to get the chance of starting their acceleration journey!