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Accelerator pitch: John Harper of Rize

Hipster man feet jumping concept seriesCan you pitch your genius business idea in the time it takes to get from the ground floor to the C-suite? John Harper, founder and CEO of Rize, and on the Accelerate Cambridge programme (based at Cambridge Judge Business School), gives it a go.

John Harper

John Harper

The brains

John Harper is founder and CEO of Rize.

The product

I’m developing an app, Rize, to help people improve their mental and emotional well-being and resilience. It integrates mini-games and exercises to provide evidence-based, therapeutic approaches, while providing background information and support for people suffering from mild to moderate depression. It’s not a replacement for support systems like face-to-face counselling, but a supplement to further recovery.

The business case

Existing products are basically books on your phone. Ours is something different – it’s genuinely engaging and interactive, which means that people are more likely to use it and get real benefits from it.

The timing

Rize is still young. We started in November 2013 and since then we’ve built our first version of the app, which is just about to be released. Market conditions are very favourable right now. There are around 250 million people who suffer from depression and anxiety worldwide and that figure is rising. The self-help industry in the US alone is worth $11 billion (£6.5 billion), and it’s growing.

The strategy for growth

Version 1 of Rize is free to download and is now available on the iPhone App store. After we’ve incorporated feedback from initial users, we’ll release an improved version 2, charging around £1.99 for it. Once we’ve seen that it’s effective, we can start licensing it to, for example, the NHS or counselling services.

The future

The next six months are going to be very exciting. Version 2 will go into formal testing with organisations such as Mindtech, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London and the IAPT. We already have a number of institutions and existing services that are interested in licensing Rize. So we want the next version to be as strong as possible.

The Accelerator

The Accelerator programme has been absolutely instrumental to the idea’s success. The mentoring and advice have provided me with signposts, showing me the steps involved in enabling Rize to grow from a concept to a product. I’ve also been put in touch with invaluable technology and business development contacts, and have been introduced to a number of potential funding streams.