A Chat with Jana Dowling, CEO & Founder at Mental Fitness App: ARKEO

MyArkeo is a mental fitness app which allows users to keep tabs on their mental fitness by tracking everyday behaviours, lifestyle choices and challenges, highlighting when they are connected and enabling people to better manage the demands and dilemmas of everyday life. It gives you a daily score so you can monitor this to see how it changes over time and compare your data – for example amount of sleep and exercise – to look for correlations and empower change.

Everyone should know what is going on in their mind and understand their patterns and behaviours to become as mentally fit as possible.  Mental fitness is the same as physical fitness, but for your brain.  It is something we all have – it goes up and down in all of us regardless of whether we have a mental health diagnosis or not and it is affected by lifestyle choices, life experiences and world events.  Of those three things the thing we have the most control over is our lifestyle.

ARKEO helps us to recognise these patterns of behaviour – it’s not just a tool for those who are struggling, it’s a tool for everyone.  The quality of life you experience when you are at optimum mental fitness is so much improved – you can function better in relationships, work at all aspects of your life. We don’t think twice about reaching for Instagram or checking our fitness tracker, they’re an integral part of many people’s lives, and I’m aiming to make ARKEO just as indispensable for anyone who cares about managing their emotional wellbeing.
MyArkeo on the App Store

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I had a major life event where I had severe a depressive episode and spent five weeks under 24-hour watch as a high-risk suicide patient.  I was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on a course of medication.  When I was coming out of this episode, I wasn’t well enough to work and so took on my recovery like a job and started to track everything I was doing to understand how the choices I was making were affecting my decisions.

I found the data helpful to my recovery and others found it helpful too and I started running courses and teaching my recovery process.  I met some amazing mentors who encouraged me to develop the app and realise the dream of improving more people’s mental fitness and so ARKEO was born.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Launching a tech start-up during a global pandemic has been a massive challenge.  I didn’t have a tech background or degree in business and had to start from the ground up with the help of some amazing mentors at different points in my journey.

I raised seed funding and went on to raise £1M from a new VC fund and went through all of the due diligence and legals, however, when the coronavirus pandemic hit they were not able to deliver on the signed investment.  When funding fell through, I had unpaid invoices and the prospect of having to fold the company. To earn money during this time I found a new direction and out of that tough time I took on roles at Sweatcoin to build out charity partnerships and Velocitii digital to build out an innovation lab. I have learned so much from my experiences working with the teams there.

I have learned throughout that nothing happens in the way you think it will and it’s important to be agile, pivot with your ideas but don’t give up! I raised further investment and we finished the build of the app and l was so proud to launch it in October.

What can we hope to see from ARKEO in the future?

We are looking to work in partnership with more organisations to encourage and empower their staff to take control of their mental fitness and give them a tool to measure this with our app.  Most people aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in their brain and how work is impacting that. We are looking to increase our work with sports professionals to help them realise the importance of peak mental fitness on performance.

We are about to go into another funding round and are looking to grow our users. I hope to educate as many people as possible about the importance of mental fitness and the need to track it just like you would your physical fitness. What inspires me is helping people and trying to leave a change in the world for good.  I want to empower people to change and give them the tools for mental strength, flexibility and stamina.