Startup accelerator program integrates mental health support
Starting a company and being a founder is stressful - especially in the current COVID-19 environment. Last year, 19% of all European founders said starting a company had a negative impact on their wellbeing, and a global pandemic will not bring that number down. However, mental health issues are not widely discussed in the startup ecosystem and beyond.
As the first German VC, APX has decided to fully integrate mental health coaching into its accelerator program for very early-stage startups in Europe. As of May 2020, balancing mental health is one of the key strategic elements each company selected to join APX will be supported on as part of the VC’s Tailormade growth program - alongside gaining market experience, seeking venture capital, and gaining traction. APX considers mental health business-critical for long term success and sustainable growth.
Each new company joining APX will have two sessions with an associated trainer addressing both general best practices and individual challenges for early-stage startup founders related to mental health. The workshops include topics such as self-awareness, group empathy and self-regulation for resilience and dealing with stress and challenges - especially in times of crisis and change. On top, APX will offer access to an internal library of relevant off-the-shelf content.
Director of Venture Development at APX, Yoni Goldwasser, commented: “Through this initiative, we assist our founders with the tools and proactive measures they need to prevent burnout and stress, learn how to handle rejection and failure, and stay mindful. Our goal is to help each team create a successful venture company and for that, they need to understand that investing in people and themselves can be as important as investing in their product.”
To raise awareness for mental health among founders and VCs, APX launched the 'Mental Mining' initiative in 2019. Under this umbrella, the company started offering free monthly sessions open for anyone on mental wellbeing, burnout, resilience. The positive feedback from participants fortified APX in their mission to de-stigmatise mental health. Now, the company takes its Mental Mining offers to the next level by formally integrating it into its accelerator program for very early-stage startups to realise that taking care of their team is an important prerequisite for sustainable growth.
Having seen his fair share of founders collapse under the mental pressure of starting a company after more than two decades in the startup world, Managing Director at APX, Jörg Rheinboldt, commented: “Healthy companies make better companies. At APX, we work closely together with our founders, so we know their struggles, and we see many have a tendency to overwork themselves for their dreams.
"Balancing mental health is usually not top of mind for companies, and the COVID-19 environment is particularly stressful for all of us. But, by taking care of your mental health and well-being, founders will be able to achieve high performance in the long-run.”