B-Talks: Startups of the future - Feelenials
At Bcombinator we continue with the cycle of interviews with entrepreneurs. This new topic is about startups that challenge the world of technology and manage to be one step ahead, positioning themselves as big companies of the future.
In this opportunity, we were pleased to connect with Feelenials, the startup that, through artificial intelligence, measures emotions in different contexts and environments.
In this interview conducted by Luis I. Cortes, the founders Pilar Rattan and Asha Bangar, tell us how to measure emotions from a technological point of view. Also, their experience as women in the tech world, the opportunity they saw with the Covid-19, how GoodFeelis was born and more.
How emotions are measured from a technological point of view
For Pilar Rattan, this was the biggest challenge. "The first vision we had was to use the technologies we had available: voice, facial and text recognition". They looked for artificial intelligence as a support. People don't like to express their emotions or to be saying what they feel, but something to help them recognize them.
How it works in practice
It all depends on where you want to measure your emotions. Individuals can record, monitor and view their history on their mobile or desktop through the GoodFeelis app (see below).
Then, at a group level, for organizations or companies and depending on the states or scenarios from where the emotions are going to be collected, it's through cameras.
"Generally, people don't want to be exposed with their emotions, because that is why we can be stigmatized," says Pilar. "What we have looked for is that the person understands what they are feeling, can register that emotion, can express it and, in addition, can do it so that those data that are coming in can help the entities, governments or organisations and be anonymous".
And she highlights: "Give value to data analysis, from other elements: activities, experiences, facts, but not the person or his identity".
"The information is coming to databases that are updated in real time simultaneously, by region, by city, by community, by gender or the segments we need for the community, the group or the individual," explains Rattan.
Being a woman in a techie world
"The technological part is not easy," admits Pilar. Neither she nor Asha had a technological base. "Personally I have a business base and entrepreneurship is natural for me. Asha's help was very important, because she is a millennial, with multi global capacity and it is easy for her to adapt to the ecosystem". And says: "We have found a very big opening in the ecosystem to collaborate and support each other. In that sense we have been very lucky".
We have four women and three men on the team. "The gender issue is balanced and we've had a lot of support, but it's not easy. The learning curve that we have had to pay has been very hard, but it is worth it", says Pilar.
Covid-19: threat or opportunity?
Asha Bangar accepts that it has been difficult in some respects. But they also saw this time of crisis as an opportunity. "There are many people who are stressed, with anxiety, uncertainty, with financial problems," says Asha. And continues: "Before Covid, we had a very different vision for our company. But during this time we saw that it was very important to address the issue of mental health, which has been exacerbated in these times".
That's when GoodFeelis was born. The app where users anonymously register their emotions and then appear on a global map of emotions. "Is very interesting because it has gained a lot of importance. We have made campaigns with foundations, companies and vulnerable groups", says Bangar.
The market and the value of Feelenials in a company or person
- B2C: is for individuals using the GoodFeelis application, where you can register your emotions.
- ·B2B:to measure collective emotions within an organization.
"Our emotions have a great influence on our decisions. So, if it is something that impacts our lives so much and we are not measuring it, there is a gap. We live in times where people change jobs every two or three years. If someone is not happy in the company, they leave. It is very important to have an organisational culture where people feel good," says Asha.
Which are the benefits
"The benefits are several: increased productivity, increased sense of community, employee retention. We can attract more socially conscious investors. The majority of the company is the employees. If they are happy, they will tell the world and that creates a good image for the company as well", says Bangar.
Feelenials' analysis and measurement of emotions allows the different departments of a company or organization to show how people are feeling, so the managers of each area can make better decisions, improve the environment and follow up on people.
"Right now there are annual or twice-yearly surveys and people usually lie because they don't want to lose their jobs. If they do it twice a year, you can't act in time to solve the problem. Feelenials creates the data in real time and anonymously. No one is going to feel that they are going to be fired if they are not happy," explains Asha.
The key as entrepreneurs to manage the team
"I think the first thing is to act with a very open heart. To have shared a message, an idea and to be able to reach out and form the team with people who share that same vision. That has been the key," says Pilar.
For the Feelenials team it was very important to have a technology partner. And they found a big surprise: Nathaniel D'Souza, a 16 year old young man, has focused on developing and creating technology for humanity. When he was presented with the project, D'Souza accepted saying that he wanted to contribute and do something for the world. "Great, a centennial," said Pilar.
Feelenials also counts Erik Brieva, President of Bcombinator, as a mentor. "We wanted to have that person, that wisdom of how to scale a business to another level. We don't know that because we didn't have that experience. So we are doing the tasks that Erik has given us. That's why we know that in Europe we are going to make an impact. We are in good hands," says Rattan.
How international growth is combined with a team of seven
"Feelenials was born for the world", says Pilar. "Emotions are global and this is a global need".
The first phase of growth in B2C was with volunteers. With Covid-19 came the group of people who wanted to help others solve mental health issues".
"With that came an issue that we hadn't anticipated. In the first phase of Feelenials, we went only for technology, measuring emotions, generating data, analyzing them. But when the pandemic and the support force came, we also had to offer remedies. It's not just about detecting and measuring emotions with technology, but that it serves a purpose," explains Pilar.
From this point on, the support solution workshops began to be generated. "There are seven of us in the founding team, but at this moment there are more than 20 people supporting the operation and we continue to grow," says Rattan.
"We are generating the latest agreements and legal issues to define a jump in investment process. So far we have been bootstrapping, we have done everything that was the seed and the first two years. It is possible that if we wanted to have a possible investment wheel and generate the same scale and the same prototype that we have done in Colombia and Latin America, to do it in different parts at the same time with the same equipment and to scale quickly in different parts of the world simultaneously. We consider Spain a good reference and very important. With just one positive experience that we achieve there, we will be able to make an impact," says Rattan with conviction.
Where they think they will be in 3 years
"Feelenials is going to be a name that has recognition, both in Spanish and English. I think we will be faithfully in the main Spanish-speaking countries and very potentially established in the United States and Europe," says Pilar.
"The vision we have of Feelenials is a global map of emotions, where in real time we can know how regions are feeling. And it is easy because we are all interconnected. Every time you register an emotion you are helping to create a network of emotions at a global level", she says.
And she ends: "Whatever the reason for your attention to this topic, I want to make a call for everyone to register an emotion. And see the world as it shows its emotions and feelings. I think it's something we can leave to humanity and it's very valuable. It's the humanitarian purpose that this project has.
You can start registering your emotions at the following link: https://www.goodfeelis.com
If you want to know more about Feelenials, visit their website: www.feelenials.com