Professional Footy Players, Startup Founders, Darren Lockyer and Mindstar
I recently had the great privilege of attending the launch of Mindstar’s online wellness and mental health service held in conjunction with a Rugby League panel session on the emotional and mental health challenges of professional rugby league players.
Mindstar co-founders, Aaron and Khayt Williams, are alumni of ilab’s Germinate accelerator program and it is always hugely rewarding join founders in important milestones of their startup journey such as this launch.
It was a very impressive event. Not just to celebrate the launch milestone with Mindstar’s backers and supporters, but to also witness the very genuine partnership Mindstar has developed with rugby league, including the not for profit Men of League Foundation, in their endeavours to support the players and their families through the often turbulent emotional stresses of a modern day rugby career and beyond.
There were some great league names on hand as well, including Darren Lockyer, who has purposefully chosen to lend his support to Mindstar as a powerful modern day tool in helping provide a support service to players, and anyone, through these types of mental health challenges.
It can be accessed anywhere, on any device, users choose who they deal with at the time they need and they do this securely and privately. It is ideal for anyone who is concerned about public and peer perceptions of seeking help for mental stress such as professional male rugby league professionals.
The launch had me reflecting that startup founders have a lot of parallels here with professional sports people.
For both sports people and founders, there is an enormous amount of unheralded, unpaid hard work needed to be successful. There are public highs and often very public and not so public lows. Their livelihoods are on the line. It is intensely personal and roller coaster journey of emotion to keep picking yourself up from the stumbles and not believing your own press in the good times. It affects not just you, but those around you as well.
The Mindstar launch was a high point for Aaron and Khayt. A lot of positives, a lot of public congratulations all well deserved. That very same day, however, I spoke with another of ilab’s founders who had just received a rejection from an investor where they had some high hopes. There was resignation, sadness, sucking it in and keep going words. It was a low point. There are a lot of such days for founders. Co-founder fights, days when no-one likes their baby, investor discontent, product delays, arrivals of previously unknown competition, the recognition that there are no more pivots left…
A startup founder journey, like a professional sports person’s, is an unpredictable emotional rollercoaster and it behoves us all to show understanding and support when it is needed if we are to enjoy and benefit from their success.
It also had me reflecting further that if Australia is to really play in the future connected, knowledge based, global economy, then it would really help if our startup founders enjoy the same fame and respect that a Darren Lockyer does. We need our kids to want to grow up saying “I want to be like Khayt or Aaron Williams!”
Bernie Woodcroft, Director, ilab accelerator
Since 2012, ilab has supported over 120 companies and 250 founders through its Germinate accelerator and Incubate programs who have secured over $8m in seed investment. ilab is operated by UniQuest (the main commercialisation arm of the University of Queensland), in partnership with the Queensland State Government.