In Heimo you can share your untellable story.


Speak your mind 

Heimo, winner of the Best Social Tech Startup category at the Nordic Startup Awards this year, was founded two years ago to offer support people facing challenging situations in their everyday lives.

“Preventing mental health issues is important and there should be a greater focus on it. We can’t simply plough all our resources into diagnostics. At Heimo, we want to hand control back to the people themselves. A significant proportion of sufferers will never receive help,” Jarno Alastalo, Heimo Managing Director, points out.

The CVs of Heimo’s founding team are littered with big names such as Suomi24 and IRC Galleria, and trained psychologists have also been involved in creating Heimo. The team started off thinking about how social media could be used in the mental health sector. However, they tend to avoid using the term mental health.

“We prefer to talk about untellable stories,” Alastalo says.

Heimo, the Finnish word for tribe, is a social media platform where users can share their thoughts and ideas anonymously with their ”tribe”. Many of the problems people choose to talk about are very ordinary – children not sleeping, difficulties coping with the challenges of adulthood, loneliness.

“We have made sure that our users’ anonymity is carefully protected. At Heimo, everyone will find it much easier to be themselves and be real than in other social media. There are no face-to-face meet-ups unless the users themselves choose to set them up. Heimo creates opportunities for peer-to-peer support.”

Heimo is a unique service. Peer support might be available across many other social media channels but these were never designed with that purpose in mind. Currently, no other service offers the same degree of openness.

Focus on international markets

Heimo may have been set up in Finland but only 20% of its users hail from this country. More than half of all users are based in Asia and some 15% in North America. Although people in Asia, for example, are traditionally very concerned about the prospect of losing face, there is also a well-established service culture.

“In the Philippines, India and Indonesia, people have quickly taken to our service. The great thing is that users can make it work for them. You can even read other people’s stories without having to register. Finland has served as Heimo’s testing ground and the feedback has been very encouraging. However, our main focus is on the international, English-speaking markets.”

In the spring of 2015, Heimo participated in the health tech accelerator Vertical’s startup programme. The time proved valuable for the company.

“They invested in us financially but we also had the support of their network, benefitted from the sparring partners they provided and had the chance to build our own startup community. We left with a stack of new contacts but also had time to get our heads down and really focus on our own project.”

Digital healthcare is on its way but, so far, there is relatively little provision in the mental health sector.

“That is perhaps a little bit surprising, and there is a definite imbalance in terms of size. There are many people suffering from mental health problems but a great unmet need for the right technologies to support them.”

At the moment, the health technology sector seems to be more focused on physical than mental health. What a brilliant opportunity for Heimo to consolidate their position as sector leaders.

Read more: