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Prince Harry’s start-up BetterUp becomes largest mental fitness coaching business in the world valued at $4.7 billion

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Wednesday, 12 January 2022. Posted in Scaling up, Interviews

The Duke of Sussex joined the San-Francisco-based company in March last year, which puts employee mental health well-being at the forefront

Prince Harry’s start-up BetterUp becomes largest mental fitness coaching business in the world valued at $4.7 billion

The Duke of Sussex joined the San-Francisco-based company in March last year, which puts employee mental health well-being at the forefront 

“By being mentally fit, we are prepared to not only handle all of life’s challenges, but we are also best set up for our own personal and professional journeys of growth,” Omar Dawood, President of BetterUp Care told me. “Mental fitness helps us unlock our full potential to grow in ways we could not have imagined.”BetterUp is a virtual coaching platform that prioritises the mental wellbeing of employees by giving them the tools to increase their ‘mental fitness’. BetterUp aims to help employees cope with their day-to-day struggles, allowing them to better manage the stress and anxiety they face in their personal and professional lives.  

The firm, which was co-founded by Alexi Robichaux in 2013 and where Prince Harry is the Chief Impact Officer, has risen to incredible heights over the years. The start-up has recently closed its $300 million fundraise, bringing the company’s evaluation to $4.7 billion. This makes BetterUp the largest mental health coaching start-up in the world – and it is all thanks to their unique platform placing worker wellbeing at the forefront. BetterUp has helped over 100,000 employees across various sectors, 380 enterprises and have provided 1 million coaching sessions to date.  

Since the pandemic, SMEs have faced immense struggles with mass uncertainty plaguing the economy. Some businesses were forced to close, workers were furloughed, and some self-employed individuals were left without work. As UK’s workforce moves into a ‘hybrid working model, many are still struggling to adjust to the changes in their work and personal life. BetterUp aims to help workers as they move through these tough times and give them guidance and support to adapt to the new world. “The pandemic was a tough time for everyone globally, including employees in the UK,” Omar said. “Nearly every employer was caught flat-footed with only reactive means of supporting the mental health of their employees...” 

“The pandemic highlighted the need to start thinking proactively about mental health and helping employees develop mental fitness well ahead of any challenges they may face to help them better manage the stress and anxiety of their personal and professional lives,” he added. “In the UK, where job vacancies hit all-time highs this summer, employees have higher expectations of their employers and their experiences at work and the support they are looking for when it comes to both their mental and physical health.”  

BetterUp’s coaches guide workers in all areas of their help, helping to identify their challenges and the tools they need to cope with their issues. “BetterUp’s coaches are skilled at helping our members assess challenges and identify the tools to address topics like navigating difficult conversations or relationships, managing stressful situations, excelling in a new or expanded role, expanding strategic impact through influence and future planning, prepping for an important meeting, presentation, or event, and making an important or difficult decision,” Omar said. “Our specialist coaches also provide focus area support in areas like sleep, nutrition, communication, diversity & inclusion and navigating challenges as a working parent.” 

BetterUp works with leading behavioural scientists, psychologists and experts to tailor their programmes to each individual, with real-time insights to track employees’ progress in their journey. “Science is a core value to us,” Omar explained. “We work with leading experts in behavioural science and performance and have dozens of PhD level scientists on staff, embedded across our entire organisation. We also work with a science board of leading researchers in the fields of positive psychology and human performance including Martin Seligman, Adam Grant, Shawn Achor, and Quinetta Roberson. We offer unparalleled analytics and insights to our customers and members – this looks like interactive professional development content, analytics for the individual and partner, and real-time insights to track employee progress.”  

In addition, BetterUp believes an employee’s mental wellbeing is linked to their work performance, and are both interconnected rather than two separate entities. Therefore, employers will also benefit if their employees are in the right mindset and headspace. A happier team is a more productive team. “One thing that has always made BetterUp unique is our belief that wellbeing and performance are not two separate pursuits, but a single interconnected growth journey,” Omar said. “Coaching not only creates these critical moments, but the Member recognises it when it happens. We know this because after every coaching session, we collect feedback from the Member around the significance of the session.” 

According to BetterUp’s data, 25% of members said they had a ‘life-changing’ moment within a month of mental health coaching, while 40% said they experienced a miracle change in their mindset within 4 months of continuous coaching. “BetterUp’s coaches are skilled at helping our members assess challenges and identify the tools to address topics like navigating difficult conversations or relationships, managing stressful situations, excelling in a new or expanded role, expanding strategic impact through influence and future planning, prepping for an important meeting, presentation, or event, and making an important or difficult decision,” Omar added. “Our specialist coaches also provide focus area support in areas like sleep, nutrition, communication, diversity & inclusion and navigating challenges as a working parent. At BetterUp we know first-hand the potential for coaching to touch people and change lives because we all have coaches. We’ve experienced these moments. We’ve seen them in others. Facilitating moments of transformation for others is a profound privilege.” 

On a final note, Omar expressed his gratitude in seeing members transform their lives with coaching saying it is a ‘privilege’ to be a catalyst for change. “At BetterUp we know first-hand the potential for coaching to touch people and change lives because we all have coaches,” Omar concluded. “We’ve experienced these moments. We’ve seen them in others. Facilitating moments of transformation for others is a profound privilege.”

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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