Interview with Jonny Pelter, CEO at Just Ask Max: A Digital Well-Being Service

Jonny Pelter,

Covid-19 has forced a radical shift in working habits (Economist, 2020). With 69% of employees now showing signs of digital burnout, a new segment of employee wellbeing is fast emerging – ‘digital wellbeing’ (PwC, 2020). Digital wellbeing is comprised of 3 pillars;

1. Cyber security – preventing cyber-crime (scams, hacking)
2. Online safety – protecting from online harms (cyber bullying, sexting, online predators)
3. Healthy habits – fostering healthy tech habits (remote working, zoom fatigue, digital distractions, screen time)

Just Ask Max is an online safety service for families, pivoting from a strict online safety service into a broader digital wellbeing offering in response to increased corporate and school demand, generated by covid-19.

Corporate Value Proposition

We help companies extend cyber security controls to the remote workforce and help improve security awareness in employees through the pane of family online safety, rather than the usual ‘stick’ of compliance. We help them eliminate digital burnout, prevent online harms and therefore increase remote working productivity.

Schools Value Proposition

We reduce cyberbullying, decrease pupil stress and therefore help improve pupil concentration at school, improving education prospects. We also help schools evidence child safeguarding compliance.
Online safety platform Just Ask Max rebrands to show the internet is a  jungle

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

If you have any friends or colleagues who are doctors, you’ll know they get pestered with ad hoc questions from family and friends whenever a medical ailment crops up….“My knee hurts, what wrong with it?” or “Tom has a cough, what do I give him?”

Having worked in cybersecurity at some of the largest organisations in the world for over a decade, I found I was starting to get something similar, but for family online safety. Then when the pandemic hit and everyone’s digital wellbeing started to get affected by all the tech time and remote working, it was obvious people needed a service to help them balance their digital lives.

When regulation like the ‘Right To Disconnect’ was being proposed, it became very apparent that employers had a significant role to play in supporting their people’s digital health, and this was the inspiration behind launching Just Ask Max.

The acceleration of remote working during the pandemic plus the physical and mental well-being issues that have arisen as a consequence, has acted as the catalyst for employers to start looking after the ‘digital health’ of employees. Our service is different to anything currently available and is designed to help employees and their families use technology in a safe, secure and healthy way.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Just Ask Max launched back in February 2020 as an online safety service for families. With the increased digital burnout of employees and remote schooling challenges faced in the education section, we decided to pivot our service away from a narrow online safety service into a broader digital wellbeing offering in response to increased corporate and school demand, generated by covid-19.

We were then one of six UK tech start-ups who got selected by the National Cyber Security Centre and O2/Telefonica to attend their cyber accelerator programme in July 2020.

This helped us win two innovation grants and close our first round of funding by Christmas 2020. We’ve just launched our new digital wellbeing service to 11 schools and are getting interest from employers to roll it into their employee benefit schemes.

What can we hope to see from Just Ask Max in the future?

Similar to a number of years ago how Headspace revolutionised the emotional wellbeing sector for employees, we will do the same but for the burgeoning area of digital health.