Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental health care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Geoff Revill, Co-Founder and CEO of Safe Space One Ltd., located in Exeter, United Kingdom.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Safe Space One is building a Patient's Virtual Therapy Room. An online place where all types of therapy can be constructed by non-digital clinicians and delivered into a personalised platform for patients or clients. It assures complete confidentiality for all online engagements, whether messaging, teletherapy, or peer group communication. It becomes a patient repository for all historical support and a place where personalised self-help tools, managed or unmanaged, can be provided. It also becomes a place a patient can invite any clinician to give them detailed access to their therapeutic history, thus avoiding issues like re-traumatisation and making the onboarding of new clients far more efficient.
Just as importantly, while sustaining absolute confidentiality of the content of therapeutic support, the platform provides insights into the level of engagement between therapist and patient and between patient and their personalised support content so organisations can plan continual improvement. More than this, the platform breaks innovative ground by focusing on a user experience designed to enhance and support the central objective of any therapy, the building of the patient alliance with the therapist - this is not like Zoom or Teams, it's about fostering trust in digital engagement.
The platform is more like a Learning Management System. A service provider can template their care pathways for common disorders and conditions, and therapists can adopt these into their delivery plan but then personalise them as care progresses. Safe Space One is especially focused on group therapy and peer support because online opens the efficiency pathway for our limited number of overworked clinicians, counsellors, and carers to provide more support to more people.
Tell us about yourself
I have been in digital systems since the mid 80's when I did my computer science degree with a dissertation on AI that designed a system that conceptually is what Siri is today. My first job entailed writing low-level protocol software for the UK's infrastructure for the internet - I had no idea how important that work was going to be.
What got me into digital mental health was a family bereavement, which happened just before the lockdown. It left my mother alone for the first time in 50 years, then 2 weeks later, isolated by lockdown too. She wanted therapy, but not one-to-one, group bereavement, and loneliness counselling. I looked online, and at that time, there was nothing available!
6 months later, it was, but as a cyber security expert and strong privacy rights advocate (I had realised the downside of the way the internet was monetised many years before), I saw service providers and therapists were using digital methods entirely inappropriate to the fundamental need for confidentiality - and also, they were using general-purpose tools like Zoom, which I knew could be far better if designed for the purpose. So I built a team of experts, did over a year of research and prototyping to validate my ideas, and we are now almost ready to launch the first version of our Patient's Virtual Therapy Room (PVTR). Not quite sure what we call it yet, but if you have ideas, do get in touch.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest achievement as a business owner and creator is infecting 3 other co-founders with my vision and dream, so they spent over a year working with me on researching and validating my ideas for no pay. As a team, our biggest achievement is turning that vision into a usable reality with a dozen customers lined up from across the public and private sectors, research organisations, and charities, along with ecosystem endorsements promised too. They, too, understand patients and therapists need a safe space online to engage, and they love the craftsmanship behind the researched understanding of their needs that we are building into the design.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
At this pre-revenue stage - it's finding impact investors with the right mindset and deep enough pockets that understand that a digital platform like this is not an app you can bang out the door in a few months - it needs the kind of digital architectural care you put into a medical device. It needs to be clinically safe as well as digitally secure.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Never lose sight of your original dream. But be prepared to dissect it into smaller steps that investors and customers, and the market can comprehend and engage with because your clarity of sight is not theirs; they need to be walked through it. And keep talking to people - keep infecting them with your vision because there are many who will help in their own small ways and they will help build your business, even if it's not with funds or revenue.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.