Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Panic Attacks To Raising £5M From Angels For Corporate Mental Health

Joel Gujral

MYNDUP

Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Panic Attacks To Raising £5M From Angels For Corporate Mental Health

Joel Gujral

|

MYNDUP

Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube
Joel Gujral MYNDUP
Full transcript here

About Joel Gujral

The BAE HQ welcomes Joel Gujral, the Founder of MYNDUP, the mental health platform for corporates.

Joel had an entrepreneurial spirit throughout his education but was working at a corporate when his life changed.

A gut disease caused him to have panic attacks in the night and made him afraid to sleep.

He hoped for support from his company but they didn't have the resources.

Coaching eventually brought him back from rock bottom.

He then founded MYNDUP because he didn't want others to go through the same struggle he did.

They've already raised £5m and served 50,000 employees across the world.The dream is to help 1 million companies in his life time.

Joel Gujral

MYNDUP

Show Notes

Headline partner message

From the first time founders to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses, creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at https://www.hsbcinnovationbanking.com/

Clips from this episode:

Full video of episode

Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube

Joel Gujral Full Transcript

Joel Gujral: [00:00:00] That just suddenly one day took over my life. During that period, I actually had depression because of it. And it was from that moment onwards that I knew two things had to change in the world. And that was mental health can't be treated as one size fits all, but also organizations need to remove all these barriers to care as well.

Joel Gujral: And that's where I got my deep passion because I saw the power of coaching when I was at the lowest point in my life. So we're servicing about 50,000 employees across about 50 countries at the moment, and then more recently raised four and a half million. My vision to help a million corporates in my lifetime,

Amardeep Parmar: and we're live today, we have with us Joel Gujral, who's the founder of MYNDUP, their mental health platform that offers both clinical and nonclinical ways to support people's wellbeing. If you're joining us for the first time, we're The BAE HQ, and I'm Amar, your host. We're all about inspiring the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs.

Amardeep Parmar: If you enjoy this episode, make sure you leave us a five star review on Spotify and Apple and subscribe to [00:01:00] us on YouTube. So let's dive in straight away to your story and like where you came from. So, When you're growing up, like what did you wanna be? What were your hopes and ambitions?

Joel Gujral: So probably went through several things actually.

Joel Gujral: But first I actually wanted to be a doctor or dentist and then I picked sort of dentistry to pursue. I didn't quite get the grades at as level, so I then tried to sort of pivot my career to what I could do and I kind of picked like investment banking, but it wasn't really the be an end all of what I really wanted to do.

Joel Gujral: And at the time I was playing a lot of golf and I thought, You know, I really enjoy it. I really, you know, love getting out on the golf course. As a kid, I was out there till 10 o'clock at night in the summer and stuff, and then, yeah, I thought, you know what? I'm gonna defer my uni degree and go to golf school.

Joel Gujral: So I went to golf school for a year, trained eight hours a day from the winter to the summer. I lived there as well for three days a week. 

Amardeep Parmar:Wow.

Joel Gujral:Yeah, it was a brilliant experience actually, and I dropped my handicap quite a lot, but I didn't quite make it. So then I then went to do banking and [00:02:00] finance management at Loughborough University and basically started out that way.

Amardeep Parmar:  So it's interesting there, 'cause like even at the early stage you had two quite big setbacks, right? You had your dreams. I wanted to be a dentist. That didn't quite work out. Then you worked really hard for a year to become a golfer and that didn't work out too. How did you bounce back from those and decide like what your future path was gonna be?

Amardeep Parmar: Was it quite tough for you or did you feel like you rolled with it quite well?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, well, the thing is I wasn't really sure what I exactly wanted to do. It was quite difficult to, to figure it out and I think deep down, even though sort of I was pursuing dentistry early on, you know, you always question it as a young person as well, is is that, really what you wanna do in your career and stuff and or are you being influenced by people like your parents or your friends or other family.

Joel Gujral: So, but yeah, definitely the setback. Say like golf, you know, that was my life. I've been playing golf since I was under 10 years old and, you know, almost every day from that period of time. So, yeah, it was difficult, especially the golf 'cause um, as a young kid you are, and I didn't really know much about depression or [00:03:00] stress or anxiety as well.

Joel Gujral: And I think I had a lot of those, but I didn't quite identify that I had them. But yeah, it does take, I think you need a lot of time off after that to figure out what you wanted to do. And then it wasn't really until probably 5 to 10 years later that I've truly found what I wanted to do after that.

Amardeep Parmar: So once you actually went to  university then, and then you started studying banking, as you said, how did you find that experience? Were you thinking, okay, I want to become a Banco and go into this career, or did you doubt that too? Like when did you start? Deciding maybe you can start your own business.

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so that's definitely what I wanted to do back then after, you know, um, not being able to become a golfer. And yeah, I did a placement year at university as well, and a lot of my friends were in investment banks. I was in private equity for some of it, and also inve in investment banking recruitment.

Joel Gujral: So I got good kind of industry-wide knowledge. But really I think it showed me that, you know, the corporate sphere isn't really what I wanna do. And I did actually start my first business, tried to start it when I was in second year of [00:04:00] university and I did it with someone called Mitchell and he was a tech person and I was on the Sales and Marketing front of it.

Joel Gujral: And it was an online shift management software. We almost got our first paying customer. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: But then we didn't quite get them and we were doing a lot of door knocking on. Um, so it was, 'cause it was online shift management software. We're trying to get sort of enterprises signed up. So we would walk into

Joel Gujral: Premier in, and I remember we went to Stratford once and we were trying to walk into shops and hotels and things, trying to get people signed up. But it was a great experience, but we didn't quite make it with that one. Then I did my placement year after that, realized, you know, didn't really know then really what I wanted to do, but I thought I.

Joel Gujral: You know, banking is probably the thing I should try and keep going with. And then, um, I did a fruit tea company as well after that because my parents actually owned a tea company and we were packing and wrapping as kids and stuff. And I learned about, I learned about business from them and learned a lot about the tea industry actually.

Joel Gujral: And I noticed a gap in the market for creating your own healthy tea. One box minimum. So then I created that. We outsourced it to a [00:05:00] factory and we had some paying customers with that one, so it did a bit better than before. And then we also were on O Two's accelerator program where they fund your business and things and they give you mentorship.

Joel Gujral: So that was really good. But even with that business, the second one I tried. I didn't have a passion for the product, and it was actually one of my friends from Ilford County High School, Satchin, that said to me, do you not need to sort of drink the product every day and like be using it? And I said, I, I, I said, I don't know really.

Joel Gujral: I don't, I don't. And I dunno if that matters. And then now I realize actually it does. 'cause that passion is the thing that drives you through the lows. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: I think more than anything. And it gets you through those periods of dip. So yeah, it was very interesting. It, it took me a long time really to figure out what I really want to do.

Joel Gujral: And I think it took me until I was about, I'm 29 now until 25, 26 actually to realize exactly what I wanna do in life. 

Amardeep Parmar: What, what I'm getting from your story as well. Even for example, the door knocking, there's so many successful entrepreneurs across the world who've had that sales experience because what you're learning is to deal [00:06:00] with rejection.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: And I think that's really hard for a lot of people who come from corporate backgrounds and things like that, where you don't really have a culture where you're able to fail. Whereas if you're in sales and most of the time you are failing, right? Most of the time people will say no to you. 

Amardeep Parmar: And it's really hard to deal with. And even with what we are doing, everybody's doing, you're gonna get more nos than yeses. But people only remember the yeses looking at that as well. With the fruit tea company that you said, how did it filter, get those first paying customers? 'Cause that's your first experience of like, after having not got it for the previous company, the software company.

Amardeep Parmar: So I be like, yeah, people actually like what I'm doing. How did that, how was that buzz?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, it was really good actually. We had a lot of support from our friends as well and things that really liked the product and stuff and yeah, it felt fantastic and it felt like we actually had a company and it felt like we'd actually taken learnings from previous, the previous company and actually used it.

Joel Gujral: And yeah, I thought it was gonna be like a really good success and things, and e even though, you know, we had a lot of advice on the way as well. And I think the key one was not making that many like [00:07:00] assumptions and trying to test your product and validate it. I didn't know quite what that meant, but we still made assumptions anyway, and I think that was the next learning point.

Joel Gujral: But yeah, I, I think, you know, it's, it's a case of the a hundred nos for the one or two yeses is the reality, and especially the reality of sales, and especially the reality of starting a business from nothing. When people don't know your brand, who you are, what you stand for. So I think, you know, you see on LinkedIn or social media, you've won this, client won this and that.

Joel Gujral: And I think it's, um, if you look then behind the scenes and dig a little deeper, you'll see the thousand calls to actually have got that or you know, the thousand rejections who have got that. So I think there's never like an overnight success. It's always a several years success, isn't it? 

Amardeep Parmar: And you said like you were 25 or 26 when you found your real passion of what you're doing now.

Joel Gujral:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: Can you tell us the story behind that? Like what happened there?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so after the fruit tea company didn't work out, so I actually deferred my graduate job to do the tea company full-time actually. So I did that again. So I did one before uni, one after uni, and I then [00:08:00] joined a large accountancy company and did internal audit there.

Joel Gujral: You know, I didn't really know if that was gonna be my calling in life, but I went with it for about 18 months and during that time I actually had a physical illness that just suddenly one day took over my life. I was going in and out of hospital when I had breathing problems and chest pain, and they thought it was heart problems and they were doing echo scans and lots of different things and they eventually found out it was a um,

Joel Gujral: Like a gut condition. So they treated that. And during the eight month period of them trying to find out what it was, I was bed bound for a lot of time. And I basically, I, um, I couldn't live a normal life really. It was hard seeing my friends, hard even going to sleep at night some nights 'cause I was worried about waking up and not being able to breathe and things.

Joel Gujral: And after that I. I then, well, during that period, I actually had depression because of it, but it wasn't depression that lasted a day or two. It was depression that lasted months, and I'd never had that before. And when I reached kind of the lowest points in my life, I reached out to my company for mental health support, but they didn't really know where to signpost me.

Joel Gujral: So I got put forward to HR. HR were then saying occupational [00:09:00] health counseling could help me. And I tried to start that process, but there were very long wait times for it. So I ended up paying for counseling, but that didn't work for me. And it was actually a life coach, a mindfulness practitioner called Jermaine that saved and changed my life.

Joel Gujral: And it was from that moment onwards that I knew two things had to change in the world. And that was mental health can't be treated as one size fits all, but also organizations need to remove all these barriers to care as well. And that's where I got my deep passion because I saw the power of coaching when I was at the lowest point in my life when I really, you know, didn't wanna live anymore.

Joel Gujral: And that's what really drove me because I knew then if I could help millions of people around the world the same way I felt where I was stuck, hopeless, and alone in a large corporate company. I thought there must be other people like that as well that want to help. So, because I'd been through it and seen the power of it and 'cause it was covid as well, I only ever met my life coach once during that period.

Joel Gujral: And he saved my life virtually. So I knew it could be done virtually as well. So then I knew I could open up, you know, an industry where [00:10:00] it's completely virtual and I could help people all around the world as well. So that's where it stemmed, came from.

Amardeep Parmar:  It's like really like inspiring and really  like happy obviously to see that you got through that and you're now able to help sending people from that experience.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you go about then taking the idea and like doing the initial conception? Like starting the  business off?

Joel Gujral: Yes. Good question. So, um, I actually joined a startup entrepreneur development program. And what they do is they place you in a startup. So you get firsthand experience of everything. And then you also go to workshops every two weeks with a cohort of 40 other entrepreneurs.

Joel Gujral: And I did it 'cause my sister went on it previously and she said it was absolutely brilliant. So at first, you know, you're a bit skeptical, do I go on it, do I not? And I was working at that big global corporate as well, so I was worried, you know, do I leave a stable job and really go for it? But I, I knew that.

Joel Gujral: You know, something I was really passionate about and it's something that saved my life and I really wanted to go for it. And, and mental health became something that was part of my entire life now. [00:11:00] So I thought, yeah, I'm gonna go for it. So I remember my parents were on a holiday. I left my job and I, I got accepted on this self accelerated program.

Joel Gujral: I then told them when they came back, and at first they went mad. You know, what are you doing? How are you gonna pay your mortgage and everything. But then, you know, they came round. The idea of it. 'cause they knew the quality of the program and my sister had been on it as well. So joined that and it was absolutely brilliant.

Joel Gujral: I ha I, I was placed in an AI machine learning startup as the first employee, and we grew to over 10 employees when I was there for nine months. And incredible experience, sales, marketing ops. I was getting mentorship from the CEO directly and the cohort of people were brilliant. And you also got matched with a mentor because the, uh, Program was funded by Blackstone, London Stock Exchange and Rothschild.

Joel Gujral: I got matched with a managing director at Blackstone. So he was bored at lots of different scale up companies and established companies as well. So we clicked really well, and the insight I got from him was absolutely brilliant in terms of fundraising and everything [00:12:00] and how to really start a business.

Joel Gujral: So it's in a great eco ecosphere. But the main thing I learned, actually, they taught you how to bootstrap a company with a hundred pounds, and they're all about the lean startup methodology. So that you got, went on a bootcamp for the first couple of weeks and they were literally training you how to go out, get signups, get paying customers with a hundred pounds.

Joel Gujral: And our first session right, was brilliant, where you had to make your product out, plaster scene and wire frames, right? And they were like, make your first prototype, your first working version. So it was great, you know, so I thought, right, how, how do I do this? And I thought, I've got two parties. I've got practitioners on one side, companies.

Joel Gujral: And employees on the other. So how do I do it? I, I used to go on the directories of life coaches, counselors used to, their phone numbers are on there, emails are on there, call them up, email them. And I created a slide deck on, um, PowerPoint as well. And I sent them that and spoke to 'em about the product and started to understand did they like it?

Joel Gujral: Did they not like it? And yeah, the practitioners really liked it. So I [00:13:00] started to build up a wait list of hundreds of different practitioners and then I thought, great, I've validated that side. I now need to validate the other side, supply side and the other side with demand side. So that demand side.

Joel Gujral: Because I was working in sales, enterprise sales and the AI machine learning startup, I learned everything about how to basically sell to enterprises. So I went to do that and I used to cold call, cold email, go and visit people, and eventually after I, I actually started all of that in April, 2019. By the end of 2019, I then managed to get my first client called the office group who said yes, and it was an amazing pitch that I had.

Joel Gujral: So I met the chief people officer, she heard my story. And she said to me, I remember the question. She said, what? What are your other clients doing? 

Amardeep Parmar:Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: And at that point I thought, oh God, do I, what do I do? And I thought, I'm just gonna stick to my values. I'm gonna be honest. I'm gonna say I don't have any other clients.

Joel Gujral: I'm looking for my first client to take a chance and pilot my services and she said, wow, thank you for being so honest. I love your [00:14:00] story. I love what you're doing. I'm gonna take that, I'm gonna give you that chance today. And it was amazing. So we piloted across the whole of UK and Europe and I thought, I'm gonna really do this.

Joel Gujral: Proud for myself, my story in helping others as well. And ,and for her taking a chance on me as well. And yeah, it went brilliantly and I used to call every customer after their session and email them to check in how they're doing and really give them the best support and make sure they're looked after.

Joel Gujral: And yeah, we've basically scaled that same model of having a real good sort of really care care model basically of looking after people. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah And obviously at the beginning, like you said, it was just you doing this in cold calling and then you had to then get other people on board, right, to build out the product.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And like how did you go about those first few hires of team? Because obviously when it's something so important to you, right, to your story and yeah, because it's your background and what happened to you, how do you then find people that align with that and also give them the freedom to do what they're good at too?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, no, it's interesting. So what, when you say build the product, actually, 'cause you know, we were learn the very lean start of methodology. I didn't know how to [00:15:00] code and lots of people were saying, oh, you need tens of thousands of pounds to start an app. And I was thinking, but there's loads of no code, code tools in line.

Joel Gujral:  So I actually built the website. I built the whole product. Even as you see today, that's still my version that I built in my bedroom, you know?  So I, you didn't need that much, and you can basically obtain your first client with a demo, with a deck, and then use that money when they pay you to then fund the rest of the business and get it to a point.

Joel Gujral: And eventually you might need some funding as well. But yeah, you're right, those first few hires are key. We didn't actually get our first full-time hire until the end of our first year. Actually, so, uh, we had freelancers and things, but we were servicing at that point about 20,000 employees with me and some freelancers, and obviously all of our practitioners as well.

Joel Gujral: Yeah, we kept it very lean. I think building out your senior leadership team and your management team is really key. I. And getting those right people. And it is really bloody hard to do that. You know, I've worked with lots of people during this time, some that worked out, some that haven't. And we've now worked with people for s, several years, actually have [00:16:00] been on the journey with me, are still with us today, who've been brilliant.

Joel Gujral: But it is really, I think the phrase is, you know, I. You have to kiss a lot of frogs and you have to try a lot of people. And I think the main thing is surrounding yourself with people that have been on the journey before and taking their advice because they can save you months if not years of trying to do that.

Joel Gujral: But I think every problem is like a people problem. And I think as you scale the people problems get more and more and more. And having that right team around you, that senior leadership team who are really aligned and who can get through the lows. I think is the main thing and can pick themselves back up off those lows and keep inspiring the team during that time, I think is the key thing.

Amardeep Parmar: Once you had your first client on board, right, so you said you then used that money to then fund the other things you were doing.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: When you were trying to service that, how was the initial teaming problems, right? Because you've had the idea, now you've got your first client. Was there any problems that came up that, and how did you get through those where maybe there was something which you hadn’t in the model yet that hadn't been tested and once it got tested, Issues came up and then [00:17:00] you had to deal with them and fix them and then obviously keep the client happy and keep moving forwards.

Joel Gujral: Yeah,  it's a great question. Well, the thing that I did, 'cause I was talking to my customers after every session, I got deep feedback, you know, and what I used to do is action that feedback straight away. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: We had feedback forms as well, but I was, you know, calling is the richest feedback as well. So, and I was, I was, you know, checking in with practitioners as well as users as well as the client.

Joel Gujral: So as well as we had, you know, usual reporting. So yeah, any feedback I had and I'd, I'd, you know, I'd had a, have a spreadsheet as well, so, and I'd color code it and if I saw lots of people giving the same feedback, I would pivot the product, change the product, change the tech, change what we're doing slightly.

Joel Gujral: So it was great actually that I had that and I had that mindset of, 'cause Neff also the Accelerator program I learned taught us the, not just sort of launching it with little money is taking feedback on board and pivoting, and they showed us a really cool thing. They were like, your product at the beginning is not gonna be your product right at the end, [00:18:00] which was really interesting.

Joel Gujral: And when I launched it, I actually launched it with multidisciplinary life coaches. Who were, you know, really world renowned, really, you know, high, high quality people that you could see very credible. But then I noticed as we were sort of getting sessions being booked, lots of people were booking a life coach who was also a C B T therapist, and they started using it for clinical solutions.

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so then I was like, this is really great. Let me add lots of clinical people as well, who aren't just life coaches. So things like that really helped us. And because I was really quick, me and my team at sort of pivoting and adding things and doing stuff that really impressed clients and users because they couldn't quite believe that, you know, one week they'd say they'd give us some feedback, give them a call this second week and say, oh, we've just actually implemented your feedback.

Joel Gujral: And they, they couldn't quite believe it, you know, so I, I used to love it because it used to then help. People even more. Yeah. So it was brilliant. 'cause I've always had, even when I was younger, I did tutoring and things to really help people. And that's been in my nature. So it was [00:19:00] really a fitting business, not only for my passion, but my underlying beliefs as well and, and my enjoyment levels too.

Amardeep Parmar:  I think a lot of people sometimes  when they're starting out, they don't realize the value of that, how important. It's that you can just change your idea and pivot.

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And it, you've got to be flexible in that way. Right? And like you said, where. Obviously because life coaches changed your life, you could've been like, oh no, this is the theory.

Amardeep Parmar: Everybody's gonna, life coach is gonna change everybody's life. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Whereas you had the flexibility and the maturity to realize, actually that's gonna help some people, but therapists also gonna help other people. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: So it enables you to help more people by. Not being so fixed in your mindset. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, definitely. I think, I think, yeah. Ha, having, having an open mind is key and I think, but making data-driven decisions is also key because I think if you make lots of assumptions, that's where I see a lot of people, even myself, you know, with fruit tea and, and the other one that I did. We made a hell of a lot of assumptions that they would like all these flavors and we spent thousands of pounds on these products and we thought they'll just come to us.

Joel Gujral: And I think that's what I learned is that gather [00:20:00] the feedback on board. If it's valid feedback and if also lots of people are citing the feedback as well, then you know, you've made an educated decision that you know, might not be a hundred percent correct, but is is, you know, good enough, you know, to deliver even better value for your product 

Amardeep Parmar: And like since then  as well, you've obviously scaled quite significantly in just a couple years time. Could you give people an idea of where you are today?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so we're servicing about 50,000 employees across about 50 countries at the moment, from the US all the way through to Australia.

Joel Gujral: And um, we're working with lots of different sectors and industries from the charity sector like the Princess Trust was servicing about 5,000 unemployed young people helping them upskill and get back into the workplace all the way through to real estate firms like Sables, all the, and even through to global law firms like Denton.

Joel Gujral: So yeah, really sort of wide mix and range of clients and people.

Amardeep Parmar: Like in terms of this journey as well, you've obviously raised quite a secure amount from like angel investors, right? 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And that's something which I think is now, I think is, is people become more aware of how you don't necessarily need venture capital [00:21:00] money, where angel investors can sometimes be better aligned to your mission.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: And then help you achieve. More of what you want to achieve. Whereas VCs traditionally, you might think, oh, they want to just make you grow as fast as possible so they can get a return. 

Joel Gujral:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And like what behind your, this is behind getting that investment and then choosing to go mainly of angel investors as opposed to say traditional finance?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so it's a really good question actually, and I've learned over the years a lot about the different types of parties and also, you know, speaking with lots of founders, you hear lots of different stories, good, bad horror stories and things, and you start to get a good feel and

Joel Gujral: you know, I, I think the main thing for us is in our first two years, we didn't raise a significant amount of money. We raised about 500 K in our first couple of years, and then more recently we raised four and a half million, so five, 5 million in total. And that four and a half million round was the one that I really was considering venture capital money, private equity money.

Joel Gujral: And we kept a complete open mind. We spoke to lots of angels, family offices and so, so many [00:22:00] different types of people. And you know, our, our investors, a lot of them were managing directors at Blackstone or Deutsche Bank or other companies and very seasoned investors. And their advice was, it's the best thing to is try and keep it as a friends and family club.

Joel Gujral: And that they can help us do that with introductions to their network as well. So, and then they gave me all the benefits of that. But even though they did that, I still remained open-minded and I still had the conversations with VCs and other parties. But as I went further and further on the journey, I realized that having that friend and family club atmosphere was gonna be the best thing because, uh, previously we were that.

Joel Gujral: You know, with the 500 K funding, with just angels and things. And it was brilliant. Really. The support was phenomenal. You can talk to them at the end of the phone whenever you like. And you know, they weren't aggressive at all. And, and they're also, you know, very human. You know, a lot of our investors, their mental health means so much to them, especially our lead investors as well.

Joel Gujral: Been very vocal about that. And they come in and meet the team and it's great. Really, I've really enjoyed it because they [00:23:00] have really become really close friends and fa and almost like, class, some of them as almost like family members to me. You know, it's not, some of them even say, I feel like you like my son now.

Joel Gujral: You know? 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: The amount we talk, the amount we've been through together, and yeah, I, I think it's, uh, it's a really good atmosphere, I'd say. But I think, you know, I think it's not for everyone and I think venture capital money, private equity money, it depends how quickly you wanna scale what you're looking for.

Joel Gujral: You know, if you really need that support on your board as well, then it's, it's really good and really good hygiene for that. And I think there's no right way. There's no one size fits all. You've gotta pick what's right for you. 

Amardeep Parmar: It is interesting  as well, 'cause like I've started Angel investing myself, where I.

Amardeep Parmar: What I'm able to do for some people is I'm able to maybe make a bigger impact than other bigger investors. Just have more time available. And because I believe in those companies, and that's actually maybe so people you don't read as well, but angel investors', not necessarily the biggest check is the best check sometimes.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: It can also be some of the smaller checks really care what you're doing and they give you a lot of free time, which helps you a lot too. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. I, I think regardless of the check size, you know, Some vary angels have [00:24:00] put in between 20 and 10 and 30 K, for instance. You know, and I speak to them so much and they gimme so much time.

Joel Gujral: But then others that have put in, we're quite lucky actually, that some of the ones that have put in the biggest checks really do help us as well. And I think it, it's a great atmosphere because a lot of them have come from their network as well. So, you know, like say, uh, James Lock is one of our lead investors, well as Sam Norman, and,

Joel Gujral: they then, you know, really saw our growth and invested early, and then they're like, you know, I wanna tell our friends, and then they tell their friends and

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: had a lot of referrals like that. So it's become a really sort of close knit network as well, where we all know each other and, and yeah, pretty much, we don't have that many.

Joel Gujral: Just sort of like, you know, sort of one person who we, we kind of don't know. Everyone's kind of connected, which feels really great. And we can all then really trust each other as well.

Amardeep Parmar: Looking forwards as well. Now see, you've got this big four and a half million round come in. Congratulations on that as well.

Amardeep Parmar: What's now the dream? Like where, where are you looking to take MYNDUP? Like what should people be listening right now? What should they looking out for? Where's the path gonna be? [00:25:00] 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so I mean, it's my vision to help a million corporates in my lifetime, so I'm really set on that to help as many people around the world as possible.

Joel Gujral: And we're a team of 24 at the moment, uh, full time. We're hiring another 15 roles in the next 18 months. So, and that's across design, sales, marketing, lot, lots of different tech, lots of different roles. So it's real, really exciting time. And we've just got our office space in Liverpool Street as well.

Joel Gujral: Which is brilliant. So if anyone's in the area, drop me a line on LinkedIn, definitely come in for a coffee. And yeah, I think we're really excited actually about building our tech now because you know, I've, we're still using the version that I built, so, and there's so much for us to do. You know, we've got at the moment a part triage process for you to find the right person specialism.

Joel Gujral: But we're actually building now an AI machine learning triage process. So you'll be able to go on there, answer a few caps questions, and within seconds you'll be matched to a person and specialism. So we're gonna speed up that time for you to find care. So we've got lots of exciting stuff on the horizon like that, which I'm really excited for and I think we have now the [00:26:00] team in place to do it.

Amardeep Parmar: That sounds amazing. We're gonna  have to move on to the quick five questions now. 

Joel Gujral: Okay. 

Amardeep Parmar: With the time. So first one is, who are free British Asian entrepreneurs? They'd love to shout out. They think you're doing great work and people should be paying attention to?

Joel Gujral: Yes. I think the first one is, uh, my cousin actually Jay Gujral, he's, um, MD of Block Dojo, which is an incubator for, uh, FinTech startups.

Joel Gujral: Uh, so it's brilliant. They invest in lots of different startups, tens and tens of startups every year, and he's just, Out of his own free time, you know, helped me during the fundraise, connected with me with so many different people. So I think he's brilliant. He goes to every event possible. You name it, he'll be there.

Joel Gujral: I went to an event last night, saw his name on the guest list, didn't even know he was going, but yeah, no, he's brilliant network as well, and really helpful person. And then secondly, my sister, Shana Gujral. She's run several startups before in, in the diversity and inclusion space, and very big on trying to help young, uh, Asian entrepreneurs.

Joel Gujral: So yeah, she's done some brilliant work in that space. Check out all the stuff she's doing and then I'll probably say, um, Sunil Jindal. I [00:27:00] went to school with him, went to Ilford County High with him in sixth form and he's, me and him have met several times on our journey when things were just really at idea stage.

Joel Gujral: And it's been brilliant following his journey now with Magic. Which is a personal training startup, which has been brilliant, actually See how they've come from an idea and paper to now in Selfridges and in the press and everything. So yeah, probably say those three. 

Amardeep Parmar:  So yeah, they're all great. And one thing we didn't mention earlier as well, so obviously audience won't know that I went to county as well, so I think we didn't cross over.

Amardeep Parmar: It was only like a small amount of time crossover. But it's, it's funny for me for example, when I reached out to you and we started chatting, I had no idea went to him school. 

Joel Gujral: No. 

Amardeep Parmar: And it's just such a small world now of Pete. I'm recording cinema tomorrow, for example. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: I've had now a few people from my school on, and it's just weird to see how people end up and you just don't know, like when you first started talking, you are at the beginning of the journey and now both of you have done incredible things.

Amardeep Parmar: And it just shows how people can grow together, which is amazing to see. Next quick fire question is, if people listening right now want to learn more about you, learn more about MYNDUP, where should they go to? [00:28:00] What should they be paying attention  to? 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so you go to our website, mindup.com. We've got blogs and things coming out all the time on.

Joel Gujral: Everything from topics like menopause to A D H D to so many different things, as well as live webinars and events as well that you can attend as well as, um, add me on LinkedIn as well. I'm quite active on sharing stuff about definitely the neurodiverse space 'cause I'm neurodiverse myself, um, as well as a lot on invisible illnesses and gut health.

Joel Gujral: Uh, big passions of mine, uh, with my journey that I've been on with both. So yeah, I think probably those two platforms. anything 

Amardeep Parmar: And like is there  that you need help with right now or that might end up needs help with that maybe the audience could help you with?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, just if there's any companies or anything that are out there that you know you think our product would relate to.

Joel Gujral: We offer everything from coaching or the way to therapy and counseling. We're trying to obviously help a million corporates in my lifetime, so. Yeah, as far and wide as possible, I'm happy to be introduced directly on email or on LinkedIn or whatever. So yeah, that'd be brilliant. 

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words to the audience?

Joel Gujral: No, I'd probably just say that, you know, there's always gonna be [00:29:00] highs and lows within startups, and I think it's getting through those lows. That is the main thing you, you're gonna feel like you want to quit. You're not made out for it, you know your business, will it actually do well or have I just got lucky?

Joel Gujral: I think, you know, pushing through and getting through those is the key thing. I think your passion for your product or service is the key thing that's gonna get you there.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It makes a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are. Because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here to inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asians, if you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact.

Amardeep Parmar: And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

Joel Gujral: [00:00:00] That just suddenly one day took over my life. During that period, I actually had depression because of it. And it was from that moment onwards that I knew two things had to change in the world. And that was mental health can't be treated as one size fits all, but also organizations need to remove all these barriers to care as well.

Joel Gujral: And that's where I got my deep passion because I saw the power of coaching when I was at the lowest point in my life. So we're servicing about 50,000 employees across about 50 countries at the moment, and then more recently raised four and a half million. My vision to help a million corporates in my lifetime,

Amardeep Parmar: and we're live today, we have with us Joel Gujral, who's the founder of MYNDUP, their mental health platform that offers both clinical and nonclinical ways to support people's wellbeing. If you're joining us for the first time, we're The BAE HQ, and I'm Amar, your host. We're all about inspiring the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs.

Amardeep Parmar: If you enjoy this episode, make sure you leave us a five star review on Spotify and Apple and subscribe to [00:01:00] us on YouTube. So let's dive in straight away to your story and like where you came from. So, When you're growing up, like what did you wanna be? What were your hopes and ambitions?

Joel Gujral: So probably went through several things actually.

Joel Gujral: But first I actually wanted to be a doctor or dentist and then I picked sort of dentistry to pursue. I didn't quite get the grades at as level, so I then tried to sort of pivot my career to what I could do and I kind of picked like investment banking, but it wasn't really the be an end all of what I really wanted to do.

Joel Gujral: And at the time I was playing a lot of golf and I thought, You know, I really enjoy it. I really, you know, love getting out on the golf course. As a kid, I was out there till 10 o'clock at night in the summer and stuff, and then, yeah, I thought, you know what? I'm gonna defer my uni degree and go to golf school.

Joel Gujral: So I went to golf school for a year, trained eight hours a day from the winter to the summer. I lived there as well for three days a week. 

Amardeep Parmar:Wow.

Joel Gujral:Yeah, it was a brilliant experience actually, and I dropped my handicap quite a lot, but I didn't quite make it. So then I then went to do banking and [00:02:00] finance management at Loughborough University and basically started out that way.

Amardeep Parmar:  So it's interesting there, 'cause like even at the early stage you had two quite big setbacks, right? You had your dreams. I wanted to be a dentist. That didn't quite work out. Then you worked really hard for a year to become a golfer and that didn't work out too. How did you bounce back from those and decide like what your future path was gonna be?

Amardeep Parmar: Was it quite tough for you or did you feel like you rolled with it quite well?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, well, the thing is I wasn't really sure what I exactly wanted to do. It was quite difficult to, to figure it out and I think deep down, even though sort of I was pursuing dentistry early on, you know, you always question it as a young person as well, is is that, really what you wanna do in your career and stuff and or are you being influenced by people like your parents or your friends or other family.

Joel Gujral: So, but yeah, definitely the setback. Say like golf, you know, that was my life. I've been playing golf since I was under 10 years old and, you know, almost every day from that period of time. So, yeah, it was difficult, especially the golf 'cause um, as a young kid you are, and I didn't really know much about depression or [00:03:00] stress or anxiety as well.

Joel Gujral: And I think I had a lot of those, but I didn't quite identify that I had them. But yeah, it does take, I think you need a lot of time off after that to figure out what you wanted to do. And then it wasn't really until probably 5 to 10 years later that I've truly found what I wanted to do after that.

Amardeep Parmar: So once you actually went to  university then, and then you started studying banking, as you said, how did you find that experience? Were you thinking, okay, I want to become a Banco and go into this career, or did you doubt that too? Like when did you start? Deciding maybe you can start your own business.

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so that's definitely what I wanted to do back then after, you know, um, not being able to become a golfer. And yeah, I did a placement year at university as well, and a lot of my friends were in investment banks. I was in private equity for some of it, and also inve in investment banking recruitment.

Joel Gujral: So I got good kind of industry-wide knowledge. But really I think it showed me that, you know, the corporate sphere isn't really what I wanna do. And I did actually start my first business, tried to start it when I was in second year of [00:04:00] university and I did it with someone called Mitchell and he was a tech person and I was on the Sales and Marketing front of it.

Joel Gujral: And it was an online shift management software. We almost got our first paying customer. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: But then we didn't quite get them and we were doing a lot of door knocking on. Um, so it was, 'cause it was online shift management software. We're trying to get sort of enterprises signed up. So we would walk into

Joel Gujral: Premier in, and I remember we went to Stratford once and we were trying to walk into shops and hotels and things, trying to get people signed up. But it was a great experience, but we didn't quite make it with that one. Then I did my placement year after that, realized, you know, didn't really know then really what I wanted to do, but I thought I.

Joel Gujral: You know, banking is probably the thing I should try and keep going with. And then, um, I did a fruit tea company as well after that because my parents actually owned a tea company and we were packing and wrapping as kids and stuff. And I learned about, I learned about business from them and learned a lot about the tea industry actually.

Joel Gujral: And I noticed a gap in the market for creating your own healthy tea. One box minimum. So then I created that. We outsourced it to a [00:05:00] factory and we had some paying customers with that one, so it did a bit better than before. And then we also were on O Two's accelerator program where they fund your business and things and they give you mentorship.

Joel Gujral: So that was really good. But even with that business, the second one I tried. I didn't have a passion for the product, and it was actually one of my friends from Ilford County High School, Satchin, that said to me, do you not need to sort of drink the product every day and like be using it? And I said, I, I, I said, I don't know really.

Joel Gujral: I don't, I don't. And I dunno if that matters. And then now I realize actually it does. 'cause that passion is the thing that drives you through the lows. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: I think more than anything. And it gets you through those periods of dip. So yeah, it was very interesting. It, it took me a long time really to figure out what I really want to do.

Joel Gujral: And I think it took me until I was about, I'm 29 now until 25, 26 actually to realize exactly what I wanna do in life. 

Amardeep Parmar: What, what I'm getting from your story as well. Even for example, the door knocking, there's so many successful entrepreneurs across the world who've had that sales experience because what you're learning is to deal [00:06:00] with rejection.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: And I think that's really hard for a lot of people who come from corporate backgrounds and things like that, where you don't really have a culture where you're able to fail. Whereas if you're in sales and most of the time you are failing, right? Most of the time people will say no to you. 

Amardeep Parmar: And it's really hard to deal with. And even with what we are doing, everybody's doing, you're gonna get more nos than yeses. But people only remember the yeses looking at that as well. With the fruit tea company that you said, how did it filter, get those first paying customers? 'Cause that's your first experience of like, after having not got it for the previous company, the software company.

Amardeep Parmar: So I be like, yeah, people actually like what I'm doing. How did that, how was that buzz?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, it was really good actually. We had a lot of support from our friends as well and things that really liked the product and stuff and yeah, it felt fantastic and it felt like we actually had a company and it felt like we'd actually taken learnings from previous, the previous company and actually used it.

Joel Gujral: And yeah, I thought it was gonna be like a really good success and things, and e even though, you know, we had a lot of advice on the way as well. And I think the key one was not making that many like [00:07:00] assumptions and trying to test your product and validate it. I didn't know quite what that meant, but we still made assumptions anyway, and I think that was the next learning point.

Joel Gujral: But yeah, I, I think, you know, it's, it's a case of the a hundred nos for the one or two yeses is the reality, and especially the reality of sales, and especially the reality of starting a business from nothing. When people don't know your brand, who you are, what you stand for. So I think, you know, you see on LinkedIn or social media, you've won this, client won this and that.

Joel Gujral: And I think it's, um, if you look then behind the scenes and dig a little deeper, you'll see the thousand calls to actually have got that or you know, the thousand rejections who have got that. So I think there's never like an overnight success. It's always a several years success, isn't it? 

Amardeep Parmar: And you said like you were 25 or 26 when you found your real passion of what you're doing now.

Joel Gujral:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: Can you tell us the story behind that? Like what happened there?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so after the fruit tea company didn't work out, so I actually deferred my graduate job to do the tea company full-time actually. So I did that again. So I did one before uni, one after uni, and I then [00:08:00] joined a large accountancy company and did internal audit there.

Joel Gujral: You know, I didn't really know if that was gonna be my calling in life, but I went with it for about 18 months and during that time I actually had a physical illness that just suddenly one day took over my life. I was going in and out of hospital when I had breathing problems and chest pain, and they thought it was heart problems and they were doing echo scans and lots of different things and they eventually found out it was a um,

Joel Gujral: Like a gut condition. So they treated that. And during the eight month period of them trying to find out what it was, I was bed bound for a lot of time. And I basically, I, um, I couldn't live a normal life really. It was hard seeing my friends, hard even going to sleep at night some nights 'cause I was worried about waking up and not being able to breathe and things.

Joel Gujral: And after that I. I then, well, during that period, I actually had depression because of it, but it wasn't depression that lasted a day or two. It was depression that lasted months, and I'd never had that before. And when I reached kind of the lowest points in my life, I reached out to my company for mental health support, but they didn't really know where to signpost me.

Joel Gujral: So I got put forward to HR. HR were then saying occupational [00:09:00] health counseling could help me. And I tried to start that process, but there were very long wait times for it. So I ended up paying for counseling, but that didn't work for me. And it was actually a life coach, a mindfulness practitioner called Jermaine that saved and changed my life.

Joel Gujral: And it was from that moment onwards that I knew two things had to change in the world. And that was mental health can't be treated as one size fits all, but also organizations need to remove all these barriers to care as well. And that's where I got my deep passion because I saw the power of coaching when I was at the lowest point in my life when I really, you know, didn't wanna live anymore.

Joel Gujral: And that's what really drove me because I knew then if I could help millions of people around the world the same way I felt where I was stuck, hopeless, and alone in a large corporate company. I thought there must be other people like that as well that want to help. So, because I'd been through it and seen the power of it and 'cause it was covid as well, I only ever met my life coach once during that period.

Joel Gujral: And he saved my life virtually. So I knew it could be done virtually as well. So then I knew I could open up, you know, an industry where [00:10:00] it's completely virtual and I could help people all around the world as well. So that's where it stemmed, came from.

Amardeep Parmar:  It's like really like inspiring and really  like happy obviously to see that you got through that and you're now able to help sending people from that experience.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you go about then taking the idea and like doing the initial conception? Like starting the  business off?

Joel Gujral: Yes. Good question. So, um, I actually joined a startup entrepreneur development program. And what they do is they place you in a startup. So you get firsthand experience of everything. And then you also go to workshops every two weeks with a cohort of 40 other entrepreneurs.

Joel Gujral: And I did it 'cause my sister went on it previously and she said it was absolutely brilliant. So at first, you know, you're a bit skeptical, do I go on it, do I not? And I was working at that big global corporate as well, so I was worried, you know, do I leave a stable job and really go for it? But I, I knew that.

Joel Gujral: You know, something I was really passionate about and it's something that saved my life and I really wanted to go for it. And, and mental health became something that was part of my entire life now. [00:11:00] So I thought, yeah, I'm gonna go for it. So I remember my parents were on a holiday. I left my job and I, I got accepted on this self accelerated program.

Joel Gujral: I then told them when they came back, and at first they went mad. You know, what are you doing? How are you gonna pay your mortgage and everything. But then, you know, they came round. The idea of it. 'cause they knew the quality of the program and my sister had been on it as well. So joined that and it was absolutely brilliant.

Joel Gujral: I ha I, I was placed in an AI machine learning startup as the first employee, and we grew to over 10 employees when I was there for nine months. And incredible experience, sales, marketing ops. I was getting mentorship from the CEO directly and the cohort of people were brilliant. And you also got matched with a mentor because the, uh, Program was funded by Blackstone, London Stock Exchange and Rothschild.

Joel Gujral: I got matched with a managing director at Blackstone. So he was bored at lots of different scale up companies and established companies as well. So we clicked really well, and the insight I got from him was absolutely brilliant in terms of fundraising and everything [00:12:00] and how to really start a business.

Joel Gujral: So it's in a great eco ecosphere. But the main thing I learned, actually, they taught you how to bootstrap a company with a hundred pounds, and they're all about the lean startup methodology. So that you got, went on a bootcamp for the first couple of weeks and they were literally training you how to go out, get signups, get paying customers with a hundred pounds.

Joel Gujral: And our first session right, was brilliant, where you had to make your product out, plaster scene and wire frames, right? And they were like, make your first prototype, your first working version. So it was great, you know, so I thought, right, how, how do I do this? And I thought, I've got two parties. I've got practitioners on one side, companies.

Joel Gujral: And employees on the other. So how do I do it? I, I used to go on the directories of life coaches, counselors used to, their phone numbers are on there, emails are on there, call them up, email them. And I created a slide deck on, um, PowerPoint as well. And I sent them that and spoke to 'em about the product and started to understand did they like it?

Joel Gujral: Did they not like it? And yeah, the practitioners really liked it. So I [00:13:00] started to build up a wait list of hundreds of different practitioners and then I thought, great, I've validated that side. I now need to validate the other side, supply side and the other side with demand side. So that demand side.

Joel Gujral: Because I was working in sales, enterprise sales and the AI machine learning startup, I learned everything about how to basically sell to enterprises. So I went to do that and I used to cold call, cold email, go and visit people, and eventually after I, I actually started all of that in April, 2019. By the end of 2019, I then managed to get my first client called the office group who said yes, and it was an amazing pitch that I had.

Joel Gujral: So I met the chief people officer, she heard my story. And she said to me, I remember the question. She said, what? What are your other clients doing? 

Amardeep Parmar:Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: And at that point I thought, oh God, do I, what do I do? And I thought, I'm just gonna stick to my values. I'm gonna be honest. I'm gonna say I don't have any other clients.

Joel Gujral: I'm looking for my first client to take a chance and pilot my services and she said, wow, thank you for being so honest. I love your [00:14:00] story. I love what you're doing. I'm gonna take that, I'm gonna give you that chance today. And it was amazing. So we piloted across the whole of UK and Europe and I thought, I'm gonna really do this.

Joel Gujral: Proud for myself, my story in helping others as well. And ,and for her taking a chance on me as well. And yeah, it went brilliantly and I used to call every customer after their session and email them to check in how they're doing and really give them the best support and make sure they're looked after.

Joel Gujral: And yeah, we've basically scaled that same model of having a real good sort of really care care model basically of looking after people. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah And obviously at the beginning, like you said, it was just you doing this in cold calling and then you had to then get other people on board, right, to build out the product.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And like how did you go about those first few hires of team? Because obviously when it's something so important to you, right, to your story and yeah, because it's your background and what happened to you, how do you then find people that align with that and also give them the freedom to do what they're good at too?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, no, it's interesting. So what, when you say build the product, actually, 'cause you know, we were learn the very lean start of methodology. I didn't know how to [00:15:00] code and lots of people were saying, oh, you need tens of thousands of pounds to start an app. And I was thinking, but there's loads of no code, code tools in line.

Joel Gujral:  So I actually built the website. I built the whole product. Even as you see today, that's still my version that I built in my bedroom, you know?  So I, you didn't need that much, and you can basically obtain your first client with a demo, with a deck, and then use that money when they pay you to then fund the rest of the business and get it to a point.

Joel Gujral: And eventually you might need some funding as well. But yeah, you're right, those first few hires are key. We didn't actually get our first full-time hire until the end of our first year. Actually, so, uh, we had freelancers and things, but we were servicing at that point about 20,000 employees with me and some freelancers, and obviously all of our practitioners as well.

Joel Gujral: Yeah, we kept it very lean. I think building out your senior leadership team and your management team is really key. I. And getting those right people. And it is really bloody hard to do that. You know, I've worked with lots of people during this time, some that worked out, some that haven't. And we've now worked with people for s, several years, actually have [00:16:00] been on the journey with me, are still with us today, who've been brilliant.

Joel Gujral: But it is really, I think the phrase is, you know, I. You have to kiss a lot of frogs and you have to try a lot of people. And I think the main thing is surrounding yourself with people that have been on the journey before and taking their advice because they can save you months if not years of trying to do that.

Joel Gujral: But I think every problem is like a people problem. And I think as you scale the people problems get more and more and more. And having that right team around you, that senior leadership team who are really aligned and who can get through the lows. I think is the main thing and can pick themselves back up off those lows and keep inspiring the team during that time, I think is the key thing.

Amardeep Parmar: Once you had your first client on board, right, so you said you then used that money to then fund the other things you were doing.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: When you were trying to service that, how was the initial teaming problems, right? Because you've had the idea, now you've got your first client. Was there any problems that came up that, and how did you get through those where maybe there was something which you hadn’t in the model yet that hadn't been tested and once it got tested, Issues came up and then [00:17:00] you had to deal with them and fix them and then obviously keep the client happy and keep moving forwards.

Joel Gujral: Yeah,  it's a great question. Well, the thing that I did, 'cause I was talking to my customers after every session, I got deep feedback, you know, and what I used to do is action that feedback straight away. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: We had feedback forms as well, but I was, you know, calling is the richest feedback as well. So, and I was, I was, you know, checking in with practitioners as well as users as well as the client.

Joel Gujral: So as well as we had, you know, usual reporting. So yeah, any feedback I had and I'd, I'd, you know, I'd had a, have a spreadsheet as well, so, and I'd color code it and if I saw lots of people giving the same feedback, I would pivot the product, change the product, change the tech, change what we're doing slightly.

Joel Gujral: So it was great actually that I had that and I had that mindset of, 'cause Neff also the Accelerator program I learned taught us the, not just sort of launching it with little money is taking feedback on board and pivoting, and they showed us a really cool thing. They were like, your product at the beginning is not gonna be your product right at the end, [00:18:00] which was really interesting.

Joel Gujral: And when I launched it, I actually launched it with multidisciplinary life coaches. Who were, you know, really world renowned, really, you know, high, high quality people that you could see very credible. But then I noticed as we were sort of getting sessions being booked, lots of people were booking a life coach who was also a C B T therapist, and they started using it for clinical solutions.

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so then I was like, this is really great. Let me add lots of clinical people as well, who aren't just life coaches. So things like that really helped us. And because I was really quick, me and my team at sort of pivoting and adding things and doing stuff that really impressed clients and users because they couldn't quite believe that, you know, one week they'd say they'd give us some feedback, give them a call this second week and say, oh, we've just actually implemented your feedback.

Joel Gujral: And they, they couldn't quite believe it, you know, so I, I used to love it because it used to then help. People even more. Yeah. So it was brilliant. 'cause I've always had, even when I was younger, I did tutoring and things to really help people. And that's been in my nature. So it was [00:19:00] really a fitting business, not only for my passion, but my underlying beliefs as well and, and my enjoyment levels too.

Amardeep Parmar:  I think a lot of people sometimes  when they're starting out, they don't realize the value of that, how important. It's that you can just change your idea and pivot.

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And it, you've got to be flexible in that way. Right? And like you said, where. Obviously because life coaches changed your life, you could've been like, oh no, this is the theory.

Amardeep Parmar: Everybody's gonna, life coach is gonna change everybody's life. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Whereas you had the flexibility and the maturity to realize, actually that's gonna help some people, but therapists also gonna help other people. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: So it enables you to help more people by. Not being so fixed in your mindset. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, definitely. I think, I think, yeah. Ha, having, having an open mind is key and I think, but making data-driven decisions is also key because I think if you make lots of assumptions, that's where I see a lot of people, even myself, you know, with fruit tea and, and the other one that I did. We made a hell of a lot of assumptions that they would like all these flavors and we spent thousands of pounds on these products and we thought they'll just come to us.

Joel Gujral: And I think that's what I learned is that gather [00:20:00] the feedback on board. If it's valid feedback and if also lots of people are citing the feedback as well, then you know, you've made an educated decision that you know, might not be a hundred percent correct, but is is, you know, good enough, you know, to deliver even better value for your product 

Amardeep Parmar: And like since then  as well, you've obviously scaled quite significantly in just a couple years time. Could you give people an idea of where you are today?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so we're servicing about 50,000 employees across about 50 countries at the moment, from the US all the way through to Australia.

Joel Gujral: And um, we're working with lots of different sectors and industries from the charity sector like the Princess Trust was servicing about 5,000 unemployed young people helping them upskill and get back into the workplace all the way through to real estate firms like Sables, all the, and even through to global law firms like Denton.

Joel Gujral: So yeah, really sort of wide mix and range of clients and people.

Amardeep Parmar: Like in terms of this journey as well, you've obviously raised quite a secure amount from like angel investors, right? 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And that's something which I think is now, I think is, is people become more aware of how you don't necessarily need venture capital [00:21:00] money, where angel investors can sometimes be better aligned to your mission.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: And then help you achieve. More of what you want to achieve. Whereas VCs traditionally, you might think, oh, they want to just make you grow as fast as possible so they can get a return. 

Joel Gujral:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And like what behind your, this is behind getting that investment and then choosing to go mainly of angel investors as opposed to say traditional finance?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so it's a really good question actually, and I've learned over the years a lot about the different types of parties and also, you know, speaking with lots of founders, you hear lots of different stories, good, bad horror stories and things, and you start to get a good feel and

Joel Gujral: you know, I, I think the main thing for us is in our first two years, we didn't raise a significant amount of money. We raised about 500 K in our first couple of years, and then more recently we raised four and a half million, so five, 5 million in total. And that four and a half million round was the one that I really was considering venture capital money, private equity money.

Joel Gujral: And we kept a complete open mind. We spoke to lots of angels, family offices and so, so many [00:22:00] different types of people. And you know, our, our investors, a lot of them were managing directors at Blackstone or Deutsche Bank or other companies and very seasoned investors. And their advice was, it's the best thing to is try and keep it as a friends and family club.

Joel Gujral: And that they can help us do that with introductions to their network as well. So, and then they gave me all the benefits of that. But even though they did that, I still remained open-minded and I still had the conversations with VCs and other parties. But as I went further and further on the journey, I realized that having that friend and family club atmosphere was gonna be the best thing because, uh, previously we were that.

Joel Gujral: You know, with the 500 K funding, with just angels and things. And it was brilliant. Really. The support was phenomenal. You can talk to them at the end of the phone whenever you like. And you know, they weren't aggressive at all. And, and they're also, you know, very human. You know, a lot of our investors, their mental health means so much to them, especially our lead investors as well.

Joel Gujral: Been very vocal about that. And they come in and meet the team and it's great. Really, I've really enjoyed it because they [00:23:00] have really become really close friends and fa and almost like, class, some of them as almost like family members to me. You know, it's not, some of them even say, I feel like you like my son now.

Joel Gujral: You know? 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: The amount we talk, the amount we've been through together, and yeah, I, I think it's, uh, it's a really good atmosphere, I'd say. But I think, you know, I think it's not for everyone and I think venture capital money, private equity money, it depends how quickly you wanna scale what you're looking for.

Joel Gujral: You know, if you really need that support on your board as well, then it's, it's really good and really good hygiene for that. And I think there's no right way. There's no one size fits all. You've gotta pick what's right for you. 

Amardeep Parmar: It is interesting  as well, 'cause like I've started Angel investing myself, where I.

Amardeep Parmar: What I'm able to do for some people is I'm able to maybe make a bigger impact than other bigger investors. Just have more time available. And because I believe in those companies, and that's actually maybe so people you don't read as well, but angel investors', not necessarily the biggest check is the best check sometimes.

Joel Gujral: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: It can also be some of the smaller checks really care what you're doing and they give you a lot of free time, which helps you a lot too. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. I, I think regardless of the check size, you know, Some vary angels have [00:24:00] put in between 20 and 10 and 30 K, for instance. You know, and I speak to them so much and they gimme so much time.

Joel Gujral: But then others that have put in, we're quite lucky actually, that some of the ones that have put in the biggest checks really do help us as well. And I think it, it's a great atmosphere because a lot of them have come from their network as well. So, you know, like say, uh, James Lock is one of our lead investors, well as Sam Norman, and,

Joel Gujral: they then, you know, really saw our growth and invested early, and then they're like, you know, I wanna tell our friends, and then they tell their friends and

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. 

Joel Gujral: had a lot of referrals like that. So it's become a really sort of close knit network as well, where we all know each other and, and yeah, pretty much, we don't have that many.

Joel Gujral: Just sort of like, you know, sort of one person who we, we kind of don't know. Everyone's kind of connected, which feels really great. And we can all then really trust each other as well.

Amardeep Parmar: Looking forwards as well. Now see, you've got this big four and a half million round come in. Congratulations on that as well.

Amardeep Parmar: What's now the dream? Like where, where are you looking to take MYNDUP? Like what should people be listening right now? What should they looking out for? Where's the path gonna be? [00:25:00] 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so I mean, it's my vision to help a million corporates in my lifetime, so I'm really set on that to help as many people around the world as possible.

Joel Gujral: And we're a team of 24 at the moment, uh, full time. We're hiring another 15 roles in the next 18 months. So, and that's across design, sales, marketing, lot, lots of different tech, lots of different roles. So it's real, really exciting time. And we've just got our office space in Liverpool Street as well.

Joel Gujral: Which is brilliant. So if anyone's in the area, drop me a line on LinkedIn, definitely come in for a coffee. And yeah, I think we're really excited actually about building our tech now because you know, I've, we're still using the version that I built, so, and there's so much for us to do. You know, we've got at the moment a part triage process for you to find the right person specialism.

Joel Gujral: But we're actually building now an AI machine learning triage process. So you'll be able to go on there, answer a few caps questions, and within seconds you'll be matched to a person and specialism. So we're gonna speed up that time for you to find care. So we've got lots of exciting stuff on the horizon like that, which I'm really excited for and I think we have now the [00:26:00] team in place to do it.

Amardeep Parmar: That sounds amazing. We're gonna  have to move on to the quick five questions now. 

Joel Gujral: Okay. 

Amardeep Parmar: With the time. So first one is, who are free British Asian entrepreneurs? They'd love to shout out. They think you're doing great work and people should be paying attention to?

Joel Gujral: Yes. I think the first one is, uh, my cousin actually Jay Gujral, he's, um, MD of Block Dojo, which is an incubator for, uh, FinTech startups.

Joel Gujral: Uh, so it's brilliant. They invest in lots of different startups, tens and tens of startups every year, and he's just, Out of his own free time, you know, helped me during the fundraise, connected with me with so many different people. So I think he's brilliant. He goes to every event possible. You name it, he'll be there.

Joel Gujral: I went to an event last night, saw his name on the guest list, didn't even know he was going, but yeah, no, he's brilliant network as well, and really helpful person. And then secondly, my sister, Shana Gujral. She's run several startups before in, in the diversity and inclusion space, and very big on trying to help young, uh, Asian entrepreneurs.

Joel Gujral: So yeah, she's done some brilliant work in that space. Check out all the stuff she's doing and then I'll probably say, um, Sunil Jindal. I [00:27:00] went to school with him, went to Ilford County High with him in sixth form and he's, me and him have met several times on our journey when things were just really at idea stage.

Joel Gujral: And it's been brilliant following his journey now with Magic. Which is a personal training startup, which has been brilliant, actually See how they've come from an idea and paper to now in Selfridges and in the press and everything. So yeah, probably say those three. 

Amardeep Parmar:  So yeah, they're all great. And one thing we didn't mention earlier as well, so obviously audience won't know that I went to county as well, so I think we didn't cross over.

Amardeep Parmar: It was only like a small amount of time crossover. But it's, it's funny for me for example, when I reached out to you and we started chatting, I had no idea went to him school. 

Joel Gujral: No. 

Amardeep Parmar: And it's just such a small world now of Pete. I'm recording cinema tomorrow, for example. 

Joel Gujral: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: I've had now a few people from my school on, and it's just weird to see how people end up and you just don't know, like when you first started talking, you are at the beginning of the journey and now both of you have done incredible things.

Amardeep Parmar: And it just shows how people can grow together, which is amazing to see. Next quick fire question is, if people listening right now want to learn more about you, learn more about MYNDUP, where should they go to? [00:28:00] What should they be paying attention  to? 

Joel Gujral: Yeah, so you go to our website, mindup.com. We've got blogs and things coming out all the time on.

Joel Gujral: Everything from topics like menopause to A D H D to so many different things, as well as live webinars and events as well that you can attend as well as, um, add me on LinkedIn as well. I'm quite active on sharing stuff about definitely the neurodiverse space 'cause I'm neurodiverse myself, um, as well as a lot on invisible illnesses and gut health.

Joel Gujral: Uh, big passions of mine, uh, with my journey that I've been on with both. So yeah, I think probably those two platforms. anything 

Amardeep Parmar: And like is there  that you need help with right now or that might end up needs help with that maybe the audience could help you with?

Joel Gujral: Yeah, just if there's any companies or anything that are out there that you know you think our product would relate to.

Joel Gujral: We offer everything from coaching or the way to therapy and counseling. We're trying to obviously help a million corporates in my lifetime, so. Yeah, as far and wide as possible, I'm happy to be introduced directly on email or on LinkedIn or whatever. So yeah, that'd be brilliant. 

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words to the audience?

Joel Gujral: No, I'd probably just say that, you know, there's always gonna be [00:29:00] highs and lows within startups, and I think it's getting through those lows. That is the main thing you, you're gonna feel like you want to quit. You're not made out for it, you know your business, will it actually do well or have I just got lucky?

Joel Gujral: I think, you know, pushing through and getting through those is the key thing. I think your passion for your product or service is the key thing that's gonna get you there.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It makes a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are. Because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here to inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asians, if you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact.

Amardeep Parmar: And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

Other episodes you may enjoy: