Joel Muise tells us how Tranquility makes getting help easy and convenient.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Joel Muise: Thankfully for myself, my family, and the extended Tranquility family, we are all located in Nova Scotia, which has had fewer cases, relatively speaking to the rest of North America. So, all things considered, we are grateful to have fared so well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Tranquility.
Joel Muise: I grew up in a small French Acadian village, 20 minutes outside of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. After graduating with a degree in Finance, I became a Chartered Financial Analyst and worked for an investment firm as a stock analyst for 6 years. Eventually, I burnt out from that career and had a very difficult time accessing mental health services within our public system.
So, I decided to write a blog post about my experience. The post went viral, and there was an outpouring of support and, unfortunately, a lot of others who were having the same struggles as me. So, I decided to do something about it. That’s how Tranquility was born.
How does Tranquility innovate?
Joel Muise: What we’re really trying to do is fill in the gap that currently exists between: “doing nothing” and going through intensive psychotherapy. Personally, I wish everyone who wanted to see an evidence-based psychotherapist could, but unfortunately, there are a lot of barriers to making it a reality. First of all, it typically costs around $2,400 to have 12 one-hour sessions with a therapist, with insurance usually only covering $500. Then there is the lack of accessibility in rural communities, wait times, commuting, stigma, etc.
So, our process has always revolved around how we can use technology to help us replicate as close as possible what an evidence-based therapist would do with a client that is as scalable and cost-effective as possible.
Today we have an online platform (desktop & mobile) that delivers a cognitive behavioral therapy program for anxiety and/or depression which can be completed as self-directed or with the support of a coach over the video, phone, or in-app messaging.
Adherence is always a challenge with any form of therapy, which is why we’re investing in persuasive technology to help our clients stay on track and get the most out of our program!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Joel Muise: Unfortunately, the pandemic has accelerated the need for mental health services. Thankfully, we were far enough along to be able to provide our service to people who needed it. There has been a lot of capital investment in the telehealth space, and there appears to be some consolidation at the moment. Because of this, we are now seeking to partner with other, larger telehealth/wellness companies.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Joel Muise: There was certainly a lot of uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic. One choice we had to make was to decide if we were going to offer our service for free or not. Being a startup with a limited runway, it was a difficult decision, but in the end, we decided to make Tranquility free for any of the provinces’ healthcare/essential workers as a part of supporting our province with their efforts to combat COVID-19.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Joel Muise: Our main competitors are companies like Mindbeacon, Morneau Sheppell, Startling Minds, etc.
Your final thoughts?
Joel Muise: The pandemic has been a very difficult time for people all around the world. The Tranquility Team is very grateful to have been in a position to be able to respond and help those in need. It really accelerated what our vision was, which was that virtual therapy would help make getting help more: accessible, affordable, timely, stigma-free, and personalized.
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