Social Entrepreneur Support Manager
16th October 2020
All too often when we are trying to treat mental health conditions we are diagnosing and treating the symptoms, not the cause. Poor cognitive health is a major component or cause of mental health issues that is all too often overlooked. If your cognition is in a “poor” state you are likely to have reduced: attention, episodic memory, processing ability and working memory capabilities.
Across the course of our lives our cognitive fitness changes. Predominately in the first 25 years you experience the most brain development. Between 25 and 50 you maintain your cognitive health and build resilience. Finally, from about the age of 50 your cognitive fitness starts to decline and will often severely affect our ability to age healthy, with conditions like Parkinson’s and dementia occurring.
MyCogntion was set up by CEO and founder, Keiron Sparrowhawk, to deal with the underpinning challenge of building and maintaining good cognitive fitness even into old age. In his own words: “MyCognition is a cognitive health company, that wants to help track, treat and prevent mental health issues. It was setup as we have a belief that mental health treatment currently is only tackling the symptoms rather than the causes.”
This is where MyCognition’s AquaSnap app comes in, a cognitive health training tool that helps improve your cognitive health and wellbeing. Alongside this, it can be used to track and trace how your cognitive - therefore your mental - health is progressing over time. Something of interest to the health sector and those working in dementia care.
“I still describe ourselves as a start-up and the journey’s only just begun”, says Keiron. Whilst much has already been achieved by MyCognition, he realises the challenge ahead is still a big one: “There is a huge global need in mental health and meeting that need is what drives us. We want to help people die with their ‘boots on’, and helping people do this is something I truly believe in.”
To grow MyCognition, he joined our Thrive Healthy Ageing accelerator programme. In addition to the bespoke, targeted support and access to expertise, Keiron recognised the peer support Thrive offers from others working in the same space.
Towards the beginning of the intensive six-month programme, Thrive was able to facilitate group workshops and plenty of co-working. As these sessions were incredibly useful for the cohort, the remote working caused by the coronavirus pandemic shifted these online.
These monthly “peer support calls” have been an essential part of the work with our social entrepreneurs. “[it’s] been great to meet the other social entrepreneurs”, Kieron notes.
For many social entrepreneurs, online working has led to changing business models and new ways of working. For Keiron, this presented itself with the opportunity to collaborate with Jonathan Hanbury of Atlas Respite and Therapy Care, an UnLtd Alumni of the Transform Ageing programme.
Keiron is hoping that working with Atlas can provide a proof of concept and new model to generate income developing the model on from B2B to B2B2C.
One of the many challenges COVID-19 has presented is disrupting selling the product with their existing client pipeline, but this time has allowed MyCognition to identify new customers that can utilise the app remotely too.
Of the partnership, Keiron says: It’s a really good partnership with Atlas. We have a focus on the elderly and dementia. But the big problem with an ageing population, lots of money is spent on solving the existing problem, but with little to show. MyCognition is the therapeutic approach, supported by the care and support from Atlas’s end. Hopefully the overall provision will be something that can treat the underlying causes of poor experiences of ageing”
While the peer collaboration aspect of Thrive has been positive for Keiron, he was also really impressed with the “passion, support and objectivity” received from the Solutions for an Ageing Society team or Roland Singer-Kingsmith, Sam Alford, and myself – Tim Lages.
Thrive gave Keiron access to intensive support from his Social Entrepreneur Support Manager, access to our network of alumni, mentors and pro-bono networks, and access to paid for consultancy. This package of support has helped Keiron in his journey to grow the impact of the business, define his investment targets, identify new investment opportunities, and shape his team:
“Thrive helped us look at the social impact we are having and explore the social value we are creating. But it’s also pushed us commercially, which wasn’t expected, but that has been really helpful. We are a very good R&D organisation. Thrive helped present this problem to us and gave us the tools needed to address it and push towards impact and commerciality.”