A few questions for food for thought:
When you break a bone in your arm or leg, what do you do next?
When you feel mental health challenges like anxiety, what do you do next?
You likely had a very confident answer to the first question. “Go to the hospital” or “call 911” are some of the common responses. If you answered “I don’t know” or weren’t quite sure about the answer you gave for the second question, then read on to learn about Bekome.
Bekome is a Northwestern Kellogg-founded startup hoping to change the landscape of mental health. Bekome's vision is to create a world in which mental wellbeing is core to the human experience, seen as complementary to physical health, and considered easy to pursue in our daily lives. The company is starting this journey by tackling the pervasive problem of anxiety.
Attacking Anxiety from a New Angle
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. 30% of adults have been diagnosed with anxiety at some point in their lives, and many more experience mild to severe symptoms on a daily basis without a diagnosis, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19. While solutions for reducing the symptoms of anxiety exist, they are not always accessible or viable long-term options.
What do you do when you’re filled with so much anxiety that you can’t get out of bed? Perhaps you have your scheduled therapy sessions, but they may be days away. You may have prescription anxiety medications, but you don’t want to be reliant on them and may experience side effects you don’t want to feel.
You reach for Bekome instead. Bekome is the first personalized suite of supplements to make supporting your anxiety simple and easy. By Leveraging the science behind the gut-brain connection, Bekome hopes to provide a natural and easy way for those who suffer from anxiety to find relief.
The Brains Behind the Product
Kellogg MBA’s Shanna Traphoner-Liu and Vanessa Gottlieb Laudette are co-founders of Bekome. They connected over their shared passion for helping others thrive through better mental health, and by combining their backgrounds, expertise, and unique experiences, they’re developing a product that fills a critical gap in the industry.
Shanna started her career in Human Capital Consulting at Deloitte, where she helped people thrive through her work designing customer experiences and developing diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. While at Kellogg, she planned to pivot into tech, but soon realized the opportunities for impact that entrepreneurship provided. She was intrigued by the idea of pursuing a passion and making a difference in an industry and problem she cared deeply about, especially given her own personal journey with mental health that spans over a decade.
Prior to attending Kellogg, Vanessa was already a founder in the mental health space, spearheading a non-profit called Bright Strides. Bright Strides provided equine and art therapy, supporting individuals facing complex traumas that talk therapy alone couldn't support. She came to Kellogg to build upon her experience leading Bright Strides and learn how to drive scalable impact in the mental health space. Vanessa came from a therapy-forward upbringing and started her mental health journey at a very young age. Upon meeting Shanna, she was sold on the vision and joined forces to make a greater difference together in mental health.
Developing and Democratizing Natural Anxiety Relief
Did you know? Your gut and your brain are connected in significant ways, and your nutrient intake (or lack of certain nutrients) has a huge impact on how you feel mentally. See the ways Bekome describes it on their website below:
Research consistently shows that diet, nutrition, and cultivating a healthy gut microbiome are as important to psychiatry as they are to cardiology and other areas of health. Those who suffer from anxiety can get the support they need with the proper nutritional elements to balance their moods. With this scientific insight, Bekome is providing supplement solutions with clinically proven, research-backed ingredients that enable customers to take control of their anxiety and feel taken care of in a space where few solutions exist.
Customer discovery and market testing were used to validate the solution, helping the team feel confident in their decision to tackle anxiety through nutrition and supplementation. Shanna and Vanessa also brought on a Clinical Director, Camila Smith, a licensed psychotherapist and doctoral candidate in Health Sciences with a focus on Clinical Nutrition. Camila helped them formulate supplement blends with anxiety relief in mind. Testing their hypotheses proved promising, with 250+ waitlist signups generated in just over a week. The founders also witnessed 68%+ unique site visitors scrolling through 90% of their site pages. The intense interest and traction proved the viability of their product.
While many supplements focus on general health or cognitive functioning, Bekome concentrates on closing the gap for mental wellbeing, especially for anxiety, in a personalized way.
Soon, Bekome will deliver an experience that enables customers to complete a quiz to understand their needs and receive a unique blend of supplements to address their specific needs. They’ll also be equipped with detailed guidance and educational materials. The user experience is also soon to be enhanced with a digital community, providing access to experts, and connecting people who have similar needs.
They are currently collaborating with doctors, psychiatrists, and nutritionists to develop natural, effective, and personalized supplement products. As well, the team is exploring AI and ML models to advance their personalization technology.
The founders will be working on their venture full-time post-MBA and were recently accepted into the Techstars Chicago Summer 2022 cohort! With the mentorship and support from the Techstars team, they’ll work on achieving their vision – to make mental wellbeing core to the human experience.