Nilo.Health takes care of mental health

For many people, it has become normal to take care of their physical health, whether in the gym or outdoors. Working on their own mental health, on the other hand, is often neglected. The start-up Nilo.Health wants to change this. Co-founder Catalina Turlea explains exactly how in an interview.

Munich Startup:  Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourselves!

Catalina Turlea, Nilo.Health: Nilo.Health was officially founded in April 2020. We are 3 co-founders, Ines Räth, Jonas Keil and me, Catalina Turlea.

Nilo.Health is the safe space for mental health at work. We offer companies a platform where their employees can access mental health support tools— from 1 on 1 sessions with psychologists to digital interventions and meditations.

Ines and Jonas are co-CEOs and I am the CTO. Ines (30) studied Business Administration with a focus on Innovation Management. In the past she worked on diverse products in startups and consultancy projects. Throughout this time she got highly interested in building things from scratch and solving real user problems.

Jonas (31) has a Business Background and worked in consulting, venture building and startups before starting Nilo.Health. Since his studies he was looking to start his own company and use an entrepreneurial approach to tackle an impactful topic.

I, Catalina (32) have been working for many different start-ups in Munich, like Freeletics, Everskill and Teleclinic. I have a lot of experience with building and scaling teams and technologies. I studied Computer Science in Romania and then did a Masters in Austria, right before moving to Germany.

The starting point for Nilo.Health

Ines and Jonas studied together and through their shared group of friends realised that it is difficult to find mental help support. This was the starting point for Nilo. After doing lots of research on the market, talking to psychologists and companies, they needed someone technical to help bring the vision to life, so they reached out to me. I also found the topic very interesting and we decided to work on a first project together, which was our first website, to see how we would get along and how we would collaborate.

In the beginning of 2020, we decided that we want to do this together and we applied for a digital health incubator in Berlin. That is when Ines and Jonas moved to Berlin. We have been working from both Munich and Berlin from the beginning. We founded the company in April 2020 and on 20th of April we had our go live with our first company, Westwing.

Munich Startup:  What problem does your startup solve?

Catalina Turlea: Mental health is relevant for every one of us and we all struggle from time to time with stress, insecurities, anxiety or other topics. We want to normalise talking about and working on our mental health, just like we do with our physical health.

Getting the support you need is quite difficult and we provide a very accessible way for employees to proactively tackle their challenges and strive to become their go to place where they work on their mental health.

Focusing on the psychological well-being of employees

Our partner companies show that they value the mental well-being of their employees and support them in this process. Once the employees have these tools, and their wellbeing improves, their contribution to the company will increase as well.

We also lighten the load on the HR departments and managers, since most of us don’t have the tools and experience to support colleagues struggling with mental health challenges. Nilo.Health provides an external, neutral, and personalised service for the companies.

Munich Startup:  But that’s nothing out of the box!

Catalina Turlea: What we offer consists of 2 main areas. First, we provide 1-on-1 sessions with psychotherapists. Based on the individual challenges and preferences which we collect through a small form, we match the users with a suitable Nilo.Expert. We currently have 80+ Nilo.Experts, that speak 15+ different languages, on 3 different time zones.

Secondly, we provide psychologically backed digital content, to support our users on various topics, like stress, anxiety, improving sleep and more others. Our self-guided interventions are developed by psychotherapists and are quite flexible, can be used anytime, in any order and in combination with each other.

“We had to be fully a split team working remotely from the beginning”

Munich Startup:  What have been your three biggest challenges so far?

Catalina Turlea: In March 2020, Jonas and Ines moved to Berlin as Nilo.Health was part of the Vision Health Pioneers incubator. Initially, we wanted to meet every few weeks, but when the pandemic started, that was not possible anymore. We had to be fully a split team working remotely from the beginning. This meant putting conscious effort into spending time together as a team, even if it was just online. As our team grew, we kept the setup, so we have a team in Berlin and one in Munich.

The biggest challenge here is to make everyone feel like one team, working together towards one goal. We encourage everyone to reach out to their team members in the other location and have some coffee-dates, we call them, so they get to connect also outside of work topics, on a personal level. We also just had our first full team event in Berlin, at the end of July. It was amazing being together as one team in the same place.

Getting the first customer on board was a huge challenge. Without any references and hardly a working product it was quite tough for us to convince a company to give us a chance. After months of cold calling and reaching out to ex colleagues and friends, we finally convinced Westwing to roll out our product.

After our first funding round, at the end of 2021, we were able to grow the team. Definitely hiring was a big challenge for us this whole year, all 3 of us actively reaching out and searching for the right people that can help us realise our vision. We are currently a 30 person team and we are still looking.

Nilo.Health wants to be the number one mental health provider in Europe

Munich Startup:  Where do you see your business in one year, and where in five years?

Catalina Turlea: In one year, we see us being partners with most middle sized companies in Germany, providing support to all their employees. We want to become more personalisable and engaging, and for that we are constantly iterating on our platform.

In 5 years, we will be the number one mental health provider in Europe, bringing our support and tools to international companies.

Munich Startup:  What do you think about Munich as a startup location?

Catalina Turlea: We are actually split between Munich and Berlin, so we have parts of the team in Munich – mostly tech and part of the sales team and the rest of the team is in Berlin.

For the Munich team, we are currently part of the Werk1 community – which is one of the most start-up friendly places in Munich. It is quite nice to be so close with so many other early stage start-ups, see all the cool ideas and, hopefully soon, share experiences and learn more from each other.

Munich Startup:  Bike or e-scooter?

Catalina Turlea: For the Munich office, bikes.