Moodbeam, a maker of wearable mental wellbeing devices, has pioneered a new model to help businesses and their staff through the COVID-19 pandemic. It follows two rounds of investment totalling £450,000 from NPIF-Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
The innovative wearable device, called Moodbeam One, was originally designed to allow users to log their mood and monitor their emotional wellbeing – or that of their children, students, patients or employees. The device then links to an app, giving real-time insights into how someone’s moods change over time and showing them patterns and trends to help them make positive changes.
The Hull-based firm was set up in 2016 by the Gadget Shop founder and Red5 co-founder Jonathan Elvidge, and former journalist Christina Colmer McHugh, who came up with the idea after her daughter began experiencing anxiety in school.
The initial £200,000 investment in 2019 saw Moodbeam bring its device to market following 18 months of prototype testing. The additional £250,000 funding later that year – £50,000 of which was through NPIF and £200,000 from a high net worth angel investor – provided the resources to develop the dashboard and identify the next iteration of the device and prospective markets.
When the latest production version landed in Q3 2019, a fifth of the stock was pre-ordered by both consumers and organisations. New features in 2020 include a real time dashboard for team leaders and managers to see quantifiable data across teams to help identify issues or concerns as they happen. These features are already being trialed in the construction and banking industry.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Moodbeam’s new organisational model that has sold in hundreds, rather than single amounts. It has helped businesses stay in real-time contact with their staff members while working remotely, as well as monitoring the health and wellbeing of frontline staff. Consumers have also purchased the device through the Moodbeam website shop and distributor Amazon.
In addition to product development, the NPIF investment has allowed the company to double its headcount in 18 months, from two co-founders to four full time members of staff and multiple contractors.
Christina Colmer McHugh, Founder and Director at Moodbeam, said: “The support from NPIF and Mercia has been incredible. These investments have helped us to continue to innovate and grow throughout our journey, bringing a valuable product to market at a crucial time for us all. This pandemic saw employers around the world enter completely unchartered waters and, in many cases, the ability to gauge the emotional wellbeing of team members from physical cues was lost overnight. Our device has been a lifeline for those businesses and individuals and we’re incredibly proud of that.
“The device dashboard previously allowed individuals to manage multiple users and see anonymised aggregated data to show highs and lows. Moodbeam has now pivoted that offering to provide identifiable team data and real time team engagement to give leaders the ability to gauge staff morale and productivity. This new feature has been introduced during the coronavirus crisis, however it will help prepare businesses for earlier, quicker communication during their working day in the weeks and months to come.
“The consumer model will always be there and lies at the heart of our creation, but for now our focus is within the B2B and supporting industries. I am excited to see where we can take the product, business and team in the future as we continue to expand into new markets and territories.”
Simon Crabtree, Investment Manager at Mercia, said: “The NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance investment really helped take Moodbeam to the next level. Since then, the business has developed a unique market-leading product with an accompanying platform that allows companies to receive feedback on their staff’s motivation in real-time. With the effects of the pandemic still being felt, it offers crucial support to companies when they need it most. It’s an exciting period for Moodbeam, and we look forward to working with them on their future growth trajectory.”
Mark Wilcockson at British Business Bank said: “NPIF has a strong track record of supporting trailblazing companies in the North’s emerging healthtech sector, providing vital funding that creates jobs and enables companies to grow. Moodbeam is an excellent example of a business that is excelling quickly and developing a product that is crucial in improving the wellbeing of individuals, both in work and in their personal lives.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.