INSEAD Participant Interview
Krystian Fykert Shares his Experience of the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme
CEO and Founder
MyMind - Centre for Mental Wellbeing
Past participant of the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme
"I started to think strategically about growth. I also learned how to pitch my mission and vision in 30 seconds, so that I could make MyMind sound unique and interesting to investors. In addition, I learned about the value of impact – how to measure it and how to present it. Finally, I realised the importance of building a team with a good cultural fit.”
What did you do before becoming a social entrepreneur?
I trained as a clinical psychologist in Poland, before moving to Ireland to join Google in a technology role. That was where I discovered a huge gap between the private and public mental health sector, which gave me the idea for MyMind.
What exactly does MyMind do?
MyMind is what is often called a hybrid business, a self-sustaining, non-profit social enterprise that provides accessible and affordable mental health services for everyone. We focus on early intervention and mild-to-moderate difficulties. Clients have access to online self-assessment tools and, from there, can sign up for face-to-face or videoconference consultations with a professional without going through their general practitioner (GP). People who don’t work or who only work part-time and full-time students pay less than people in full-time jobs. We also provide support through companies for their employees with our 'MyMind at Work' programme.
What is the gap in the market that MyMind fills?
Like most European countries, Ireland has a very medicalised system of mental health provision. It tends to focus on severe problems, rather than prevention through early intervention, and the waiting lists are very long. There is some private provision, but it is expensive and difficult to find out about. We fill the gap by offering easy access to a therapist or counsellor within 72 hours and in more than 10 different languages.
How did you start up MyMind?
I set it up in 2006 to support members of the Polish community living in Dublin. It was so successful that we decided to expand into the mainstream. By 2010, we were looking to scale up further. Around that time, I began looking for business training and found out about INSEAD.
What was your goal in looking for a business programme?
I had no business experience or training. My background is in mental health and tech. I was so badly in need of skills that I didn’t even know what skills I needed to run the organisation – let alone grow it further!
Why did you choose the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme?
It was the international environment that made INSEAD so interesting to me. I felt I would learn more with people from different cultures and backgrounds in the classroom. I chose to do the programme in Singapore, so there were participants from both Europe and Asia – which made it even more interesting.
Did the programme live up to your high expectations?
It was amazing! Most of all it gave me the confidence I needed to talk about business. The knowledge exchange – the sharing of challenges and solutions – was also very beneficial. For me, it was exactly the right training at exactly the right time. I’d highly recommend the programme to anyone in the social entrepreneurship or impact business sector.
What was the most important take-away from the learning?
I had a clear business concept that had proven to be effective, but I was right at the beginning of my journey, so all the learning was useful! But perhaps the most important thing was that I started to think strategically about growth. I also learned how to pitch my mission and vision in 30 seconds, so that I could make MyMind sound unique and interesting to investors. In addition, I learned about the value of impact – how to measure it and how to present it. Finally, I realised the importance of building a team with a good cultural fit. Today, we still look for mental health professionals who share our social mission.
How has the organisation grown since you did the programme?
Largely thanks to what I learned at INSEAD, we have grown significantly. Before I did the programme, we had one office and no full-time operations staff. Today, we have four locations (in Cork, Limerick and a second Dublin office), six full-time operational staff, more than 80 mental health professionals and offer 1,500 appointments a month.
What do you think are the secrets of your success?
Technology has enabled us to keep our administrative costs down and the fact that we offer services in ten languages has given us broad appeal. Our clients are great ambassadors and are helping us to overcome the challenge of the stigma around mental health services. Apart from that, it’s the skills I learned at INSEAD about building a strong team with a good cultural fit and developing good relationships with external partners, such as the public health services. We have also won several social entrepreneurship awards, which have opened doors for us.
Do you stay in touch with INSEAD and your classmates?
Even after five years, our class network is strong. And I’ve become an INSEAD Social Entrepreneur in Residence, so I go to Fontainebleau at least twice a year to mentor MBA students and to talk to new INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme classes. It’s an incredible privilege to work with such bright people with a passion for their own fascinating social-innovation ideas. It’s also a great benefit, especially now that MyMind is entering another phase of significant expansion.
What are your aspirations for the future?
We’re still growing in Ireland and increasing our capacity. We’re also preparing to scale up to other European countries, where we see exactly the same issues and the same gap in the healthcare market. We’ve done our research and believe the same model will work in Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. And of course, my other ambition is to return to INSEAD more often in the future!