“We face a lot of mental health issues for which companies are not equipped,” says the founder and president of Nurau, Justin Lessard-Wajcer. (Photo: courtesy)
The Montreal startup Nurau distinguished itself by winning the first prize in the TechPreneur de PME MTL competition last week as well as being designated today as one of Startup Montreal’s 20 2022 Revelations.
The company founded and chaired by Justin Lessard-Wajcer will receive $30,000 and $20,000 respectively for these two awards.
Established in 2020, Nurau launched an app in February that allows employees and managers to take 15-minute mental health micro-trainings with a live expert they can interact with.
“It’s a great recognition that society needs new solutions to solve the problems of stress, anxiety and exhaustion,” said the young leader in a telephone interview about the awards. We face a lot of mental health issues for which companies are not equipped.
Lots of ambition
This start-up already has clients such as Ardene, BAM Strategy and Axxel-Bromelin, while Desjardins and Sun Life are among potential clients. She hopes to reach 250,000 people by 2024.
“We want it to be global,” says the neuroscientist who is doing a doctorate at McGill. We want to be the next Montreal unicorn with a capitalization of one billion dollars. We are in talks with insurers in the United States to establish themselves in this country in 2024.”
In the meantime, the one who wants to change the perception of mental health in the world is trying to raise $1 million by the end of July to finance its expansion. The SME works hard to offer its services in Ontario and British Columbia.
The heart of Nurau’s offer consists in allowing employees to choose the micro-training given on the internet by an expert who interests them. They are usually included in a series of six trainings on the same theme.
“The employee can choose them according to the time that suits him and his interests, notes Justin Lessard-Wajcer. For example, a parent could select those on work-life balance while a manager could follow those that address how to deal with an exhausted or depressed employee.
Its artificial intelligence algorithms can suggest learning according to the emotions, schedules and interests of participants. The aggregated data collected during questionnaires is also used by companies to better understand the general state of their personnel.
The boss argues that his startup is a bit like Uber: it connects mental health experts who offer training with employees and executives who want to learn more. Its approach is based above all on a logic of prevention.
“We want to combine employee training in mental health with social interaction and well-being,” he says. In 15 minutes, we maximize learning. It’s very accessible, it’s like having a coffee. Our utilization rate is 30-35%, while that of employee support services is only 1-3%. The return on investment is immense with our application.”
Justin Lessard-Wajcer believes that his SME’s offer helps demystify mental health problems, better manage them and open doors to other specialized services, such as psychology, before it’s too late.
“About 80% of health claims are related to mental health,” he says. We want to work upstream to reduce that. We hope to avoid being in reaction to a problem, in order to address it before burnout manifests itself.
He argues that his approach allows companies to save a lot in medical costs while increasing productivity. By adopting it, they also demonstrate to their employees that they care about their well-being, a significant aspect for employee satisfaction. According to the head of Nurau, this also contributes to establishing a sensitivity to these issues in organizations.
But beyond the workplace, he wants to equip participants to deal with these issues, so that they can not only take better care of themselves, but also of those around them.
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Nurau, the new Uber for corporate mental health
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