Calvin Benton
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Giving everyone in our company £400 therapy

How learning from the competition kind of worked out

Typical startup wisdom goes that coming to the industry with no knowledge lets you have new and genius ideas that the incumbents haven’t thought of yet. Elon musk famously doesn’t trust perceived wisdom a lot of the time.

And for us at Spill, that kind of worked. We were fairly new to the field of counselling and therapy and, because of that, we have focused all our energy over the last eight months into thinking about how we can remake therapy to work purely through text. Something that a lot of people would say is impossible.

But a couple of months ago we had an idea.

What if we tried the best therapy on the planet to see what we could learn?

Getting everyone on board

We decided that every person at Spill should go to the most exclusive-money-no-object-well-regarded therapist that they could find. We wanted product suggestions and first-hand experiences of what exceptional therapy looks like. If we could have, we would have flown in Freud, Jung and Rogers themselves.

We made understanding exceptional therapy mandatory. Everyone in Sales, Marketing, Engineering and Operations had to attend weekly therapy with the best therapist that they could find.

To make sure that everyone was pulling their weight we made a list of everyone who wasn’t in therapy.

Slide in weekly update deck showing who wasn't in therapy

What changed

After each session, our Head of Product interviewed people to understand what worked and what didn’t. We also collected our thoughts each week around the benefits that people can expect from therapy and even started a weekly video series about how we felt after our therapy sessions.

It’s had a big influence on product features. For example, almost all of us gained an insight into ourselves in our first session and those of us that didn’t weren’t that excited about going back next time. Because of that, over our next few product updates, we are going to test some different ways of giving that same experience to our users as fast as possible. We also learnt that we are inclined to want to share things with our therapists as they happen in the moment, something that we can facilitate much better than a face to face session and needed to play a bigger part of our product.

As well as learning about product features, we also learnt a lot about how we should talk about therapy and what we do. Quite a few of our Instagram posts came from things that we learnt from therapy.

Quote from a Spill therapist
A statement of who Spill wants to be

The take away

£400 for a therapist is an expensive habit but sometimes it is useful to see what’s out there. And if we want to make therapy available to the masses we may as well make it therapy that usually costs £400 a session.

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