How Maria built and sold her wellness startup

How Maria built and sold her wellness startup

May 19, 2022
Leaders to Leaders
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Maria created a b2b wellness startup helping employees avoid burnout and improve their mental health. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she realised that she was going through a huge burnout herself. She recovered with the help of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. So she was inspired to take her burnout relief to the rest of the world. Listen to the full conversation on

Adapting the wellness startup to the user habits

When thinking about how this tool can be interesting to companies and how different other companies are already doing this, we thought about three main aspects:

Embedding the tool in existing apps

The first point is how we make this embedded in the tools that we already have. Usually when you are working in a company, you are using apps like Slack and Jira, it is hard to remember to go to a different tool to get some rest. So one of the main things that we wanted to do is to embed this in our daily tools. That step of engagement, or generating that engagement was already there. This is why GetTilo runs as a Chrome extension or in the Slack app, and it is not proprietary software.

Understanding and adapting to the audience

The other thing that we wanted to do is to be very mindful of the time of the people and how people actually interact with activities every day. People just do not show up to yoga classes or to the meditation classes because they need to mute everything that they are doing for one hour. So we decided to go with very short bits and pieces of content of just 10-minute videos and, of course, on demand. Everyone can actually get it in the moment that they really need it.

Personalisation via AI

The third part is that we wanted to ensure that we learn from each interaction with the platform and we make our programs as customisable and personalised as possible. Therefore we invented an AI improvement. It understands everything that you did and proposes new things based on what you like.

Which platforms to choose for a wellness startup tool

It has always been planned to be a B2B tool but we had a lot of discussions on which platforms to embed it first. We know that embedding the platform on Google was simpler from a developer perspective and the same with Slack. But that had limitations for us because a lot of companies are using Microsoft, instead of G Suite, for instance, or Workplace as a tool for communicating instead of Slack. Hence, for us it was a huge challenge to understand where to actually build the platform first. We started with Google first because it was easier for us and also easier to prove the concept using Google. Then we moved to Slack, which was a second level of complexity because you have different ways of programming it. 

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Maria Eugenia, GetTilo. Image source: LinkedIn

Product development roadmap and team roles in a wellness startup

We started developing it in May and we had our first deployment of the app in September. The team included me designing the whole product from the perspective of the screens and from the perspective of the flow, the UE, etcs. We hired a developer company for the Chrome extension and the Slack app with previous experience. The idea to hire somebody who already went through that process with other companies was amazing! In the end we had three developers, one project manager, me as product and two data engineers.

Surprises, scenarios and flow changes

We accomplished the product in different stages. First it was the Chrome extension, then we added all the configurations and at the end we had to make sure that everything was working. We needed to connect all those stages and we realised that some of the scenarios weren’t covered in the very beginning. So we needed to go over some of these scenarios. It took us some more time to actually ensure that everything was actually working the way we wanted. So we changed a little bit the flows and the data in the end points to make sure that it was comprehensive for any user.

Image source: Freepik

Product launch and selling

After we got the product and we knew that everything was actually working, we started selling the product and we got our first client in October last year they onboarded 100 people on the platform. So we started seeing how this was actually growing and scaling. In the part of looking for new clients I found somebody who was interested in acquiring the wellness startup. It was a new experience to me, as it was just getting started. Still, the offer was very good, so in the end what I decided to do is to sell the company and the assets. Now GetTilo is part of a huge community of developers. 

Funding model and financial optimisations for a welness startup

We wanted to create the product and the MVP without spending a lot of money. There was one angel investor and with that angel investor we created the first product with the Chrome extension. We also rely a lot on no-coding tools that already exist. For instance, we embed the tool but we use TypeForm for all of our reporting part and we use Google Analytics to share the reports with the managers. And on top of that we decided to use Kamba to create templates. Everything was developed on our WordPress site, using Elementor and other themes.

In October last year I also joined a program – an incubator, and I totally recommend it if you are starting with a company. They will not only give you the money to ramp up with your product and start live putting your product into the market. They will also give you the knowledge and the support that you need if you are doing this for the very first time, if you are a solo founder. I joined the BIA (Berlin Innovation Agency) incubator program that is from the city of Berlin, because the company was actually founded in Berlin. 

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