We are an wellbeing and inclusion agency, ensuring our clients cultivating wellbeing effectively and making a positive impact through strategy support and bespoke training
. Our mission is to stop organisations wasting money on wellbeing that doesn’t work, isn’t inclusive and fails to tackle the challenges they have.
Tell us about yourself?
My background is pretty diverse and certainly isn’t a straight line. I graduated from University in Manchester in 2007 with a degree in International Business Psychology, after having fallen out half way through due to mental health challenges, and having to take a year rebuilding.
Thinking I’d done well for myself, I secured a graduate scheme at the Co-operative Bank on the Financial Leadership pathway. Sadly, due to the 2008 recession, I was made redundant and had to start again after only 6 months.
Back home and wondering what to do, I started working in local government to get by, and used the wages I’d been saving to launch PhenomGames, an ecommerce company, which grew quickly and hit 6 figure revenue in less than a year.
It continued to grow at speed for a number of years, which presented both opportunities and challenges, and alongside the everyday madness I continued to complete professional qualifications in health and human performance, and worked in a charity and in elite sports.
The path to Essentialise started in 2014 when my immune system failed and I lost the ability to walk. It was a very difficult time, with my son 18 months old and my wife 6 months pregnant.
I took me 11 months to get back on my feet and walking well, and on that journey I came to realise just how important health is and the legacy that I could leave if I build a business that could empower and educate others.
But before Essentialise came a number of years at home with my children, before they started school. Reflecting back, this was such a valuable period and the bond I have with them is amazing.
It also helped me to develop, as I became as better communicator, more present and patient, and more skilled at organising and dealing with challenges.
And when my daughter started school, it was time to bring everything together and make an impact in the wellbeing industry. We launched in February 2020, not knowing what would happen only a month later. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions since, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
My advice would be to think flexibly, as we spent time building the plans for Essentialise, but they very quickly changed as COVID hit and clients priorities shifted. The flexibly we’ve had has been an advantage and is now one of the things that sets us apart in a still young and competitive industry.
What problem does your business solve?
We support organisation in understanding wellbeing, what it means to them, and how to get value on their investment while improving both the business and the employees within it.
Navigating the wellbeing maze, with it’s fancy trainings, flashy apps and endless jargon can feel like a job in itself, and we take that stress away, support with data and build a strategy that can be executed, embedded and evolved.
And at the moment, it plays a massive part in talent retention, acquisition and attraction, and we support organisation with creating a compelling employee value proposition.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
The inspiration behind the business started with my lived experience around health and the impact it had on me. This was combined with the market opportunity for wellbeing done well, with data utilised and a sustainable business case made.
Less than 50% of SME’s have a dedicated wellbeing strategy and many don’t have a member of the team who can build and deliver an effective strategy.
We are an SME’s wellbeing partner in creating a strategy that they can execute, a plan they can follow and getting them clear on how it impacts performance when done well.
On the other side, we design training that is bespoke for each client, taking into account the sectors challenges, the audience we are delivering too and making it engaging and relevant. Everything we deliver is based on evidence and takes into account the realities of business.
What is your magic sauce?
We are different because we don’t sell solutions and tell you they will solve your problems. We do the hard yards with you to build a strategy that works and training that your teams will attend and utilise.
Our services are inclusive, which is rare in our our industry and we are a Black, disabled-led business which in the wellbeing sector is an additional point of difference.
We are confident with data, and won’t confuse you with jargon and promises. We just support you with wellbeing that works, leave out the fluff and overdeliver because we do a proper job.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We have a number of aspects to our plan that we plan to execute over the next five years.
The first two aspects are already being cultivated and are currently in testing, and while we are not planning to release to much information they involve tech and virtual reality.
We aim to continue to sustainable grow the high value consultancy and bespoke training, working with a few more handpicked associates who are talented at what they do and have valuable experiences to bring their work to life.
We’ve already got some great clients, and we are planning to be actively involved in some new exciting collaborations in the wellbeing space and deliver more combining wellbeing and inclusion.
But more than anything, we want to keep delivering great results for our clients and teams, having fun alongside the effort we expend and showcase the potential of wellbeing when it is done well.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Like any business that is meaningful and pushing boundaries, there are days you want to get up on the office roof and scream. The biggest challenge we faced is losing 3 of our 4 initial clients when COVID hit, and we had to completely rethink our forecasts and approach.
The reality is that being a startup you have to be ready to move in a whole range of directions and we reacted by doing what was possible, exploring other opportunities and building credibility by supporting the NHS, local charities and our community, which put us in a position where we have become more agile, more flexible and focused on client needs.
The other challenge that stands out has been finding the right people to join the team, but not rushing has paid dividends and we have grown in a sustainable and deliberate way with a group of individuals who all add to what we are building.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
Are you struggling to attract talent or don’t know where to start with wellbeing?
Do you want training on wellbeing and inclusion that doesn’t send your teams to sleep?