Episode 74: Building a Mental Health Startup as an Early Career Dev with Rahat Chowdhury
The increasing volume of the societal discussion on mental health is blooming into a variety of results. One of the interesting aspects of these developments are apps aimed at helping users with their self-care and mental health management and, today, we have a conversation about a new mobile app called Whimser, which is doing exactly that! We are joined by their founder and CTO, Rahat Chowdhury, who speaks to us about the startup, its roots in CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, and how they approach using journaling to combat negative thought patterns and cognitive distortions. Rahat explains how the application is not designed as a replacement for therapy but rather as a tool to enhance practices that users already have in place, offering continuity and opportunities for further reflection. Rahat also explains a little bit about how the company is currently being run and the leadership philosophies that ground what they do. He strongly believes in bringing a human element into the work, and shares the interesting decision to bring in junior developers from the get-go and the motivations behind this. For this fascinating conversation with an inspiring young founder and developer doing important and conscientious work, make sure to tune in!
Key Points From This Episode:
- A little bit about Rahat and the two companies he is involved with.
- Understanding cognitive behavioral therapy and cognitive distortions.
- Experiences of imposter syndrome and the ubiquity of these feelings across the industry.
- Rahat's inspiration for creating Whimser and adding to the mental health conversation.
- Considerations around broadening the scope of Whimser beyond therapy.
- How Rahat approached things at the outset and how he chose his co-founders.
- The importance of taking action and balancing this with patience and delegation.
- Rahat's approach to code reviews and the consideration that goes into better communication practices.
- The impetus behind the decision to bring in early-stage developers at the beginning.
- Lessons that Rahat has learned from working with different team leads during his career.
- Decisions around salaries at Whimser; how Rahat and his co-founders are funding the company at this point.
- Translating skills as a web developer into the world of mobile applications.
- The funding component of running a startup; Rahat's thoughts on effective pitching.
- Data collection considerations and the idea of user-owned and licensed data.
- The inspiration for the name of the company: combining whimsy and whisper!
- This week's picks: Litter robots, Focusmate, headphones, new songs, and more.
“We do stuff like having some natural language processing in the background that helps you categorize your thoughts into what could be potential cognitive distortions to help you set yourself up to figure out how to combat those thoughts.” — @Rahatcodes [0:02:14 ]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Rahat on Twitter
- Rahat on Github
- Rahat on Polywork
- Rahat's Blog/website
- VirtualCoffee meetup
- Litter Robot
- Night owl t-shirt
- A-O-K, Tai Verdes
- Deja Vu, Olivia Rodrigo
Special Guest: Rahat Chowdhury.