Startup Teams: Supportiv

Kristin Karaoglu · October 9, 2018 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4c4e

Stay open, explore your teammate’s perspective and don't let your mind and bias judge quickly

If you read through our popular Meet the VC series, which profiles hundreds of VCs, you’ll see that an overwhelming majority say the founder and his or her founding team are the biggest factors they consider when investing in a company.

Many want to find that soft skill that’s often not reflected in a resume. For instance, VCs always look for founders who are “resilient” “intuitive” and “courageous.”  At the same time, they want to find teams that work well together and complement one another. Team dynamics can make or break a company.

In this new series, we’re profiling startup founding teams. We want to know why they chose to work together and why they work so well together. 

Our second startup team profile is Supportiv. Supportiv, the support network, is a stigma-free and jaw-droppingly affordable place to receive 24/7 hyper-targeted peer support, resource recommendations and service referrals that precisely address your relationship, work, family/friend, sadness, anger, anxiety, or loneliness needs. 

They company recently presented at SplashX Invent Health: Mental and Behaviral Health event in June 2018. See their presentation here

Helena Plater-Zyberk and Pouria Mojabi are the two founding partners of Supportiv. They are both serial digital health entrepreneurs. 

Pouria, before Supportiv was the former technical co-founder of Vitagene which is now the second best-selling health and ancestry DNA test on Amazon. Pouria holds an M.Sc in Electrical Engineering from USC.

Helena is the former CEO of SimpleTherapy, whose clients include Aetna and Humana. In 2016, she won first place in the Swiss Re Foundation's global "Entrepreneurs for Resilience" competition. Helena holds an MBA from Columbia University and a BA in International Relations and Economics from American University.

VatorNews: How did your team come together?

Helena: Esther Dyson gets a lot of the credit! She knew each of us independently through the digital health community. After hearing us each describe what was lacking in mental health and wellness and how we thought it could be solved for consumers, she set things in motion for us to meet each other.

Pouria:  Helena and I met up for a coffee, where it became immediately apparent that our vision and philosophies were aligned. The coffee rolled into a 2-hour whiteboarding session, where we mapped out what has now become Supportiv. We each went home so fired up that the collaboration never missed a beat from that point on.

VatorNews: What are the complementary skills you each bring to the table?

Helena: Our main overlapping skill is seeing the humor in the darkest of moments. Other than that, we are perfectly complementary opposites. I’m strategy, marketing, comms, recruiting, sales & biz dev. Pouria’s AI/natural language processing, product, people, and growth hacking.

Pouria: It’s very true. We both have very high work ethics but in completely different areas. I like to think that everything that I am not, Helena is!

VatorNews: What are the characteristics / qualities you look for in a founding partner?

Pouria: We’re both serial digital health entrepreneurs, with 5+ successful startups between us, so there wasn’t a question of experience. The main thing I look for is the ability to communicate through a heated conflict, and Helena has definitely mastered that skill. It is under stress and pressure that you truly see who the individual is and what he/she is capable of.

Helena: Pouria is all hustle. I’ve worked with exceptional people and teams throughout my career, but he, from day one, demonstrated that he will out-hustle anyone. He’s tireless, unflappable, and an eternal optimist. That’s exactly what you want by your side through the long slog of co-founding a company.

VatorNews: How do you make sure you don’t get on each other’s nerves?

Helena: We laugh too much for tension to build up! Even in the middle of a heated disagreement, we are each masters at diffusing the situation with humor.

Pouria: We try to give each other space and learn from our conflicts. And for any trivial matters, we use cool wooden dice from Morocco to settle decisions.

VatorNews: What are some lessons learned about working together?

Pouria: Staying open, exploring the other person’s perspective, and not letting your mind and bias judge quickly.

Helena: Ditto all that! We actively and consciously want to respect and trust each other, plus model that to our growing team. Early on, we put a lot of effort into it; the payoff is that now it’s natural, and our team sees and feels that.

VatorNews: What’s your advice about teams and founding partners to entrepreneurs looking to start a company?

Helena: No matter how many people tell you that it’s 10X or 100X harder than anything you’ve ever encountered before, just be prepared for it to turn out 1,000X harder. Because there will be plenty of days that it is.

Pouria: Don’t do it. Enjoy life!

If you are interested in being included in Startup Teams series, join Vator and email your interest to kristin@vator.tv. If you'd like to be included in our Today's Entrepreneur column, please send me your Vator profile. 

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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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Supportiv

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If you need something to perform better at your job, you ping your professional network. If you crave some fun, you tap your social network. What’s missing from our lives is what to click when you’re feeling low: a support network.

Supportiv, The Support Network, is a stigma-free and jaw-droppingly affordable place to receive 24/7 hyper-targeted peer support, plus resource recommendations and service referrals that precisely address your relationship, work, family/friend, sadness, anger, anxiety, or loneliness needs.

Our natural language processing (NLP) algorithm matches each user in under 30 seconds --based on their free-text response to the question “What’s your struggle?”-- to a topic-specific peer group chat that dynamically convenes for users with similar emotional needs.

No matter how common or obscure the response, we find the right peers who relate and want to talk about the same thing the user does — a communication breakdown in a relationship, an encounter with a toxic coworker, adulting, the loss of a pet. The matching is effortless. It happens for the user, in seconds. The specificity of the topic-based matching improves with the network effect. At any moment, dozens or thousands of groups may convene concurrently, as dictated by the volume of users, plus the similarity or differences among users’ needs.

Each group has a “super-powered” human moderator. Our NLP enables the moderator to drop precisely relevant resources, recommendations, and referrals right into the group conversation in real-time. Our ever-expanding knowledge base will vet, catalog, and precision-match the world’s most recommended tactics, resources, and inspirations. Humans helping humans with an AI & NLP-powered boost that makes global scalability a non-issue.

If you need to search something, you go to Google. If you want to broadcast to friends & family, you go to Facebook or Instagram. If you need support with daily life struggles, you’ll come to Supportiv.

 

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Pouria Mojabi

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Pouria Mojabi is Co-Founder of Supportiv a jaw-droppingly affordable mental wellness solution featuring hyper-targeted digital peer support with live moderation & real-time recommendations and referrals to the wider digital health ecosystem.
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Helena Plater-Zyberk

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Helena Plater-Zyberk is Co-Founder of Supportiv, a jaw-droppingly affordable mental wellness solution featuring hyper-targeted digital peer support with live moderation & real-time recommendations and referrals to the wider digital health ecosystem.