Companion Apps – using tech to take on stress and anxiety

iwoca customer Dan Bladon was determined to help people cope with stress and anxiety better using the tools he knew best.

14 February 2020

Running your own business is stressful – something that most business owners can agree on. Research conducted by Xero found that 83% of small business owners have experienced some form of stress in the last six months, while 28% admit they're too busy to think about supporting mental health in the workplace.

Dan Bladon, co-founder of Companion Apps understood that this was a real problem for business owners and employees alike, and wanted to design an app that could help relieve these stresses and strains, contributing to better daily functioning.

Dan’s experience in digital product development combined with the psychological expertise of his business partner, Robin Fordham, have proved to be a strong combination, with the business receiving endorsement from the NHS just 2 years after launching in 2015.

“We’ve created an app to help people manage daily mid-to-moderate stress and anxiety,” says Dan. “The app content is peer reviewed by a psychologists and we’ve been through a number of studies. We want people to get out of their heads and live their lives to the fullest.”

The app is based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a form of treatment that encourages the recipient to reframe negative ideas and beliefs to break out of unhealthy thought processes. Companion’s features include breathing exercises, relaxation guides and tips designed to help with this reframing process.

How iwoca helped Companion Apps

For Dan, funding from iwoca allowed him to:

  • Bridge cash flow gaps when waiting for payments from customers
  • Continue to pay bills and outgoings during this period
  • Progress with the app's development

“I used iwoca because we had some bills that we needed to cover," says Dan. "We were waiting for payments from Apple and Google to come through and iwoca’s loan helped bridge that gap. They were able to offer us a small amount and it just worked beautifully in that moment.”

"I wanted to approach my bank for a loan for Companion, but the process of applying to them was so convoluted even though I was just looking to take out a small amount. When you’re running a small start-up and you know you’ve got money about to come in but also need to pay some money out, a bank loan just isn’t realistic.”

Research from UK Finance found that major banks have cut funding to small businesses by £8bn since 2014, leaving many without the capital they need to grow. By contrast, iwoca has lent over £1 billion to over 50,000 customers and are proud to support the ventures of business owners like Bladon.

The greatest reward – customer satisfaction

Despite the stresses and strains that come with being your own boss, many small business owners still wish that they could give up their day job. Dan is no exception.

“It’s not my full-time job at the moment,” says Dan, who’s also working as a Senior Product Manager for NHS Digital. “I’m trying to turn this from a passion project into something that I can build a full team around and scale up. But there are a lot of challenges involved in doing that.

“We get a lot of emails from people saying how much it helped them. It always surprises me, especially when they come from America, but it’s definitely the best part of the job.”

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Dan is part of the content team at iwoca. He writes articles explaining financial topics, as well as guides on the best support for small businesses during coronavirus.

Article updated on: 4 May 2020

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