HealthIM launches from the Velocity Garage to improve mental health support services

Daniel MacKenzie and Daniel Pearson Hirdes started HealthIM in 2012, while they were both students at the University of Waterloo. After winning $25,000 at the Velocity Fund Finals in Fall 2015, HealthIM moved into the Velocity Garage, where they continued to develop an intelligence driven system to prevent crisis and reduce risk when police are supporting persons with mental illness in the community. HealthIM recently launched from the Velocity Garage, so we caught up with the two Daniels, to talk about their experience at Velocity and how it has shaped their company.

What brought on the decision to move out of Velocity?
We have been able to build a strong base of police services working with us which continues to grow. We also had an opportunity to access a larger space without giving up access to the Velocity community. We were just awarded a large grant from OCE and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, so we were starting to think about finding a space of our own that our team could grow into. When we found out that we could have that space AND stay involved in the Velocity community, we accelerated our plans to move out.

What future goals do you wish to accomplish after your time at Velocity?
HealthIM has always and will always be about strengthening support for vulnerable populations. We want to improve quality of care for persons with mental illness nation-wide and help to establish a new standard for mental health crisis support internationally.

Where was your company at when you joined Velocity, and how has it grown since then?
When we first joined Velocity we were working on our first in-cruiser prototype of HealthIM. We had just finished a successful pilot of the system with Niagara Health and we were preparing to make the jump into the world of policing.

Over the next two years we learned the ins and outs of police mental health response. We’ve spoken to 1/3rd of police services in Canada about their mental health strategies and pulled together some of the best practices from across the country to create our mental health system which is now being used by communities across Ontario.  

What will you miss most about Velocity, and what are you looking forward to about your new workspace?
We really valued the community at Velocity. Access to the mentorship staff and other founders going through the same challenges as us was key to helping us reach the point we’re at today. The facility is top notch too, but it’s the people that really make it special. Lucky for us, the thing we’re most excited about in our new workspace is that we don’t have to give up either of these things! We’re still in the same building, so we get the perks of having our own private space without giving up all the things we love about Velocity.

If you could give Velocity companies parting advice, what would it be?
If you’re not already going to Velocity’s weekly sales meeting, get going! Sales is really hard, and you wouldn’t believe the mental gymnastics people will perform to justify avoiding it. It’s something that every company needs to get good at, and the sales meetings will play a big part in helping you do that. If you don’t think you need to go, you should think very carefully about why. Learning to sell HealthIM was one of hardest things we’ve ever done, and we wouldn’t have pulled it off without the feedback we received in those meetings.