The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of people in India and across the world. There has been a rise in cases of stress, depression, anxiety, psychological isolation, emotional challenges, and fear of failure among others. Last year, the Indian Psychiatry Society reported a 20 percent rise in mental illness cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
This struck NIT, Rourkela graduates Rahul Mohanty and Swagat Mohanty, who have known each other for over nine years.
“Even though we are surrounded by our own people all the time, we still might not find the right person to talk to and resonate with, or share our agonies without any hesitation. Amidst this rising stress, we saw an increase in the number of suicides and depression cases where people gave up on themselves even when faced with the smallest of failures. We have closely seen these scenarios within our families and close friends, and also personally felt the full brunt of the increasing stress and loneliness,” Rahul, Co-founder of FailTell, tells YS.
It led them to startout of Bhubaneshwar in August 2020 as a platform that enables people with similar life experiences to connect.
What does FailTell do?
The startup envisioned building a community where people shared their stories of overcoming failures. The aim was to help people find their role models via real-life stories, and ensure that they don’t feel alone.
An all-in-one online platform, FailTell offers a wide range of services to help everyone overcome failures, conquer mental health and emotional challenges, strategise career and deal with everyday concerns for personal, emotional and professional growth.
“Be it mental health support, uncertain career decisions, or just someone you want to talk to who could help you lead a more meaningful and happier life, FailTell offers a one-stop solution to redesign one’s personal and professional growth, with its wide range of services,” says Swagat.
He explains the initial challenge the team faced was finding affordable and reliable technology resources, including developers. Also, since the startup is already catering to an overcrowded market, the team felt the need to stand out from all the big players in the market.
“Another major setback we faced was to convince people to share their stories of struggles, failures and challenges, considering the stigma attached in our country when it comes to mental health. We also faced difficulties while scaling up overseas as we had a limited understanding of the customers’ needs in those geographies via the campus ambassadors that we had hired from campuses abroad,” says Rahul.
The duo realised that it was important to nudge people towards becoming aware of how to deal with failure and overcome it practically. They saw the need to offer a more holistic approach.
“However, no platform could be found where people shared their “failure” stories or life experiences in one place. This made us realise that we ought to do something to address such issues and de-stigmatise failure,” says Rahul.
Pandemic and other services
When the pandemic hit its peak, people dealt with heightened emotions, mental health fallout, employment uncertainty, anxiety about the future, and more. The team had realised that most of these problems were interconnected, and addressing one problem helped somewhat alleviate others.
The startup then began offering additional services in August 2021, one being career mentoring. The team consists of domain-specific career mentors with diverse experiences – ranging from popular industries like IT, entrepreneurship, consulting and analytics, and BFSI to lesser-known ones like venture capital, product management, fashion designing, modelling, fine arts, government services, healthcare, hotel management, etc.
“With a compassionate and caring network of counsellors/therapists, life coaches, and domain-specific career mentors, our goal is to make all of our services accessible and affordable to everyone, without compromising on their quality,” says Rahul.
The business model
The total team size is 14 across various teams – technology, marketing, design, and content. The team has 14,000 users who have shared 150 stories.
“We revamped our website based on the feedback and market-product fit analyses to launch our new services. With that, we also managed to build a strong network of 50+ counsellors/therapists, 30+ life coaches, and 150+ career mentors (across 30 domains) in 1.5 months of launching our additional services,” says Rahul.
Here are some of the key metrics:
- 1,500 monthly active users, 150 stories, 250+ expert base, 14,000 user base
- Career mentoring
“Our startup is bootstrapped as of now. As a part of AWS Activate Portfolio, we have received credits from Amazon Web Services which covers a small fraction of our tech costs. We’ve also received help and support from Startup Odisha to scale up,” says Rahul.
While the team refused to share their revenues, or the amount of money they charge the customer, they explained they make money in the B2C business with the customers opting for career mentoring.
Rahul explained they also have B2B bulk offering for educational institutions, coaching institutions, corporate entities, MSMEs, etc. The team is also conducting webinars and would be charging fees for the same as the time proceeds.
“We have other exciting projects and our future plans, which would be adding to the business model. For our B2C business, we have a gross margin of 30 percent which is charged per session that makes money for our startup,” says Rahul.
Market and future
According to GlobeNewswire, the addiction treatment and mental health market will touch $6.2 billion by 2027. Some of the apps in the segment include – I am Sober, Recovery Path, Sober Grid and others. There are others like Atmana which work on a freemium model, and while the app is free to install, the advanced functionality requires a paid subscription of $90 per year.
“Our mission is to create a responsible and realistic social media for people belonging to all age groups and from all walks of life. We want people to fathom the depth of every process in life with a holistic view rather than just looking at the number of successful attempts. In three years, we aim to tie up with more than 100 educational institutes and build a network of 2,000+ counsellors, therapists, life coaches, and career mentors,” explains Rahul.