A lifetime of ‘Appiness

Urban Health is the ‘smart mental health plan’ that offers its users inner peace, tranquillity, and a safe space to get their mental health and wellbeing back on track. 

Founded in 2018 and tagged as “the worlds smartest wellness assistant”, Urban Health is the health and wellbeing app that’s gaining traction with its individual approach to caring for the masses. 

Co-Founder Kshitij Jaggi was using various health and fitness apps when he realised that they weren’t having the impact they ought to. They would initially hook a person, but then they lacked the ability to hold that person’s interest or keep them engaged. 

“When I started interacting with health and fitness apps, I realised there was a high impact problem. You get hooked to Instagram, Twitter, TikTok. [I thought] how can that genius of building a product be applied to us but also get healthy health outcomes?” 

Determined to make a lasting impact with users, Kshitij realised that for their app to be successful, it needed to be designed with a social interaction vibe in mind, but at the same time it needed to ensure that the outcomes of those interactions were safe and healthy. 

Motivated to fulfil the needs of their users in their everyday lives, Kshitij and his two Co-Founders, Kumar Shivang, and Rishabh Sahu, were on a quest to make an impact in consumer health, utilising a simple mobile app. 

Where it all began 

A college whiteboard. It was this whiteboard that caught Kshitij’s attention. It had an X axis showing age, and a Y axis showing stage of life. Then followed a list of challenges that humans face along the journey of their lives, whether they realised the stress-causing impacts of those challenges or not. 

All of life’s transitions have an impact on the person at the receiving end, even if it’s perceived as a positive moment or event. Changing schools, relationships, marriage, moving, babies or starting a job can all be a trigger for stress and anxiety. 

Because of this, the Urban Health app is designed to be with a person at every stage of their lives. To help people “preserve a little bit of sanity every day”. 

An elegant system of design 

“Most tech companies have buzzwords that people are interested in, blockchain, AR, VR, but if you go back to them, it’s more of an elegant system of design at play.” 

Urban Health designed their app with this elegance in mind. By looking at how business heavyweights started, evolved, and engaged their users, the co-founders saw the benefits of leveraging data to instantly help the people who need it the most. 

To better understand their users, they receive data points back from the users so they can improve their system from one year to the next, like a never-ending cycle of giving. The aim is to make sure that subscribers can cope with the goals set for them rather than be overwhelmed by them. 

From the gathered data, the team are preparing to implement AI algorithms. These algorithms ensure that their users are notified, with a gentle nudge at the right times, to use the app. Whether that nudge is to prevent an anxiety attack or to encourage sleep, is all dependant on the user. No two people are the same, therefore no two plans are the same. 

“There's a questionnaire built around Mental Health Association … to really help people decipher whether they are anxious, whether it's stress, whether it's more towards depression or burnout, so that they can take immediate steps. 

“Everything is designed so that [Urban Health] can take data from our consumers and over a period of time evolve and learn … to create a base for a smart engine which helps people diagnose their health issue, act on it and achieve the health outcome they are looking for.” 

Building a base 

Maximum user engagement comes from social media platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook, which, ironically, are the areas where a lot of anxiety and stress lie. However, the app is now also gaining traction via a more holistic word-of-mouth.  

“We do advertise, but we feel social media is where the problem is. And that's where we get the maximum of our users, be it Instagram, or Facebook. The other thing we see is a lot of word of mouth happening. People who have already improved their sleep, reduced their anxiety, or have started to see health benefits or changes in their life and getting their family members involved. We see a lot of parents gifting it to their kids.” 

By partnering with universities and healthcare insurance companies, Urban Health plan to help consumers from across the globe who may not otherwise be able to look after their health and wellbeing. Already, they are seeing a lot of requests for therapy and one-to-one counselling. 

Now in its fourth year, the company has almost 20 employees. However, the entrepreneurs want to remain as lean as possible by attracting only those people who can add unique value to the company, and therefore the consumer. 

Full stack AI for complete care 

Despite the company scaling-up to offer complete, specialised care solutions to the consumer, they want to ensure that the act of helping their users in small and manageable ways is still at the heart of their product. 

“Our ability to help a consumer transform their life with … small actions that they can do daily remains at the centre stage of our product development.” 

And by utilising privacy technology from Apple Health, they receive a state-of-the-art, tried, and tested means of data security “because the user’s data is significant and the last thing you want is to have … a privacy issue with the end customer.” 

To ensure data protection is at the forefront of their business, they evaluate the evolution of AI, cloud technology, and edge computing and compare alternatives, to leverage the best tech for users’ privacy. 

Scaling up 

After a successful $3.4 million seed funding round, Kshitij notes that whilst this is great for the company, with more capital comes more responsibility to the end user. 

He is very clear in the goals the app is setting out to achieve from the funding. First, customer centric wellness outcomes are centre stage. Second, biofeedback, where the AI will give the developers more information on the users’ biomarkers – such as their heart rate. Third, scaling up both in terms of specialised staff, and consumer base. Forth, long-term planning. To achieve goal one, planning for the long term is an integral part of the company 

It’s all about me 

To stand out, you have to understand your market and where you fit within it. The key difference between Urban Health from other apps is that Urban Health focuses on the end health outcome. 

“If I'm a therapy platform, I will offer you therapy for anxiety. If I’m a meditation platform, I’m going to offer you meditation for anxiety. But the problem is someone who's having anxiety doesn’t know if its mild or chronic anxiety … [Urban Health] focus on the end health outcome … We do a quick diagnosis or mood check to [instantly] figure out whether this is an extreme, or a mild case.” 

Once a diagnosis has been made the app informs the user on the best course of action, which can be anything from breathwork to counselling. 

The use of language also had to be tailored for a broad userbase. Indeed, during research for the app the trio found that phrasing changes. Words like ‘tired’ and ‘stressed’ stem from older generations, whereas ‘anxiety’ is a term mostly used by Gen Z users. It is this evolution of meaning that must be accounted for when building the platform. 

The challenge of growing-up, but honing-in 

AI algorithms are the tech of choice for the company, and by utilising the data of user responses to the app, they believe they can scale-up without losing sight of their end goal – to ensure the users end health outcomes are realised. 

What’s next? 

“I think we’re just going to simplify things. That’s the agenda. [The agenda being] only two things. One is the scope of what we do, how can we add more to every customer’s life, and then how can we scale to more customers that are going to interact [with the app]. The scale-up is just going to be the number of people being impacted, and the level of impact in each person’s life is just higher … nothing much is going to change. We just need to learn [from the end users] and grow the product very simply. 

“If you were to ask me [what’s next] even 10 years down the line, the answer would still be the same.”