Enjoying life, benefiting from the hard work we all put in on a daily basis and well-being have, arguably, never been more important. With the productivity of employees and workers the UK and world over ‘not quite right’ and with the coronavirus pandemic very much at the forefront of all our minds, there has never been a better time to empower and encourage everyone to take care of their well-being and get their lifestyle in check and there are plenty of incentives to do so. One startup company that really is helping employees and workers to take control of their lifestyles and thrive is Heka, so TechRound decided to speak to their founder.
Who Are Heka And Who Are The Brains Behind It?
I’m Steph, founder of Heka. I’m a woman, a team leader, a soon-to-be wife, a human. My co-founder, Alex, is also my other-half. We’ve shared our work and life for the past 7 years, and got engaged during lockdown. My team is made of fitness-maniacs, pottery-lovers, environmental-warriors, creatives, perfectionists, brothers, daughters…humans. A bunch of amazing people whose appetite for making a difference is what bonds us together. I founded Heka for all the leaders like me and all the teams like this one.
What Does Heka Do?
Heka is an employee benefits platform with over 3,000 health and wellness experiences, covering mental, physical, and lifestyle. It features the Heka Academy, a space for free workshops, classes and coaching sessions with industry experts; and the leader dashboard, a data hub for leaders to get insights on their team’s wellness.
Heka empowers humans through benefits that are personal, inspiring, and joyful. Every person has unique strengths. And we exist to help people find them and thrive through them. Heka offers a benefit that ticks bucket-lists, not just boxes.
Why Health And Wellness?
The truth is that never, in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d become an entrepreneur, least of all, founder of a wellness startup. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. But in hindsight, it actually does make sense that I would. From a young age, I’ve loved trying new experiences of all sorts. Ice climbing, Gong baths, spas…you name it.
At university, I studied Human Geography, mostly because I’ve always been interested in understanding what makes people happy. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve always wondered why people don’t spend more time doing the things that make them happy. Later in my life, working in a corporate environment, I realised that regardless of the good pay and “prestigious” life, I kept feeling like something was missing.
So… to answer your question, I guess I realised that true fulfillment, happiness and empowerment come from those moments and experiences where we can truly relax, reconnect and …simply enjoy life. Wellness experiences do the trick. Whether it is through a sweat-dripping HIIT session, a relaxing retreat or an insightful coaching session.
That is why we’re so passionate about health and wellness. Because focus on these areas is true human-focus. We all want to be well. We all want to be happier, healthier humans.
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How Have You Managed To Stand Out In An Industry Dominated By Influencers?
What I’ve realised is that all influencers are inevitably attached to one particular area of fitness or wellness. Yoga, crossfit, meditation, etc. Which is great, because that means they’re specialised. However, it also means that people who follow them tend to feel like they must define themselves in a single way or are boxed-in somehow.
We realised that people were wanting to express themselves (their true selves) more freely, and were looking for an alternative.
With Heka, our focus is not on any particular experience. Our focus is on humans. And how each one of us can be happier and healthier. We believe every person has unique strengths. And Heka exists to help people find them and thrive through them. So whether that person needs life coaching, a spa, a boxing session, or simply a smoothie delivered to their door, at Heka we work with the power of the individual to inspire all that is good; the life, love and laughter we’re all looking for.
How Have You Grown Since Starting?
Regardless of the crisis, Heka is growing daily. More and more leaders are realising that embracing a human-focused culture is the only way of surviving. And I like to think we’ve contributed to that. Through our content and meetings, I regularly share the importance of human-focused cultures and leadership, as well as the story of my team and how we’ve managed to stay united and focused in the midst of the crisis.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve grown from 2 members (my co-founder and I), to a team of 17 people. Revenue has increased 8x over the last 12 months and we are on target for £1m ARR by the end of 2021. Overall, we’ve raised £1.3m, including backing from professional athletes. During the last 6 months, we’ve launched with 30 companies, and the relationships with them are better than ever due to the unconditional support we provided throughout the lockdown. We are looking to inspire the humans in another 100 companies by October as we continue to grow.
What Challenges Have You Faced As A Startup And Online Platform?
As any founder knows, challenges start from day 1. In the early stages of Heka (previously GoSweat), our main challenge was to do with automation (or perhaps, the lack of it). Each booking and schedule was managed manually, which meant we regularly had to send flowers apologising for times we messed up. On the flipside, this helped us to get to know our community and what truly inspired them.
More recently however, the biggest and most obvious challenge was the shutting down of all wellness venues as a result of the pandemic. Our portfolio used to be almost entirely focused on physical locations, however this forced us to come up with a different, online offering in a matter of days in order to survive. As a company we had experienced many challenging periods, however, we could’ve never prepared for something like that. We switched to remote and had to sell our office, and I was honestly so scared of what would happen.
However, Covid-19 shone light upon people’s most fundamental and non-negotiable needs. Needs like being balanced, happy and inspired to smile every day. And without that, Heka would’ve never been born.
I guess the conclusion is that we face challenges every day. Big and small. Like every other company. Like every other team. But that is actually why we created Heka. To empower and inspire humans to be all that they can be. We believe that happier, healthier humans will change the world for the better.
What Are Your Plans For The Next Few Years?
There are many ways of measuring success. Revenue, investment, number of users, etc. Personally, I think success should be measured in a way that promotes the company’s mission and purpose. At Heka, we measure success by the number of wellness hours we can bring to the members of our community. Our mission is to provide a decade of wellbeing hours (88,000 hours) in 2021. And I look forward to the year when we can provide 1 million hours!
We’re also planning to get a bigger team. To grow. And to support bigger companies as they embrace the value of human-focused cultures.
How Can We Find You?
The easiest way to find me is through my LinkedIn @Steph Newport Booth, where I regularly post updates about my journey to embracing and nurturing a human-focused culture at my company and with my own team. I also have a leadership newsletter, where I share insights, tools, tips and experiences on inspiring my people and using health and wellness to bring out the best version of ourselves.