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We interviewed Hannes Klöpper, Co-founder and CEO of HelloBetter, as one of the award winners of Tech Tour Health in 2021.

Q: Introduce yourself and tell us more about your current position and company?

HK: Hi, I am Hannes Klöpper, Co-founder and CEO of HelloBetter, and responsible for the overall strategy and investor relations. HelloBetter is a Berlin-based digital therapeutics company focused on closing the gap in mental health care by making clinically validated solutions accessible.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

HK: Over 10% of the global population lives with a mental health disorder. However, even in the best healthcare systems, only 10% of those people receive care from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. In fact, 30% of people diagnosed with a mental health disorder only receive care from a general practitioner, and 60% of people with a mental health disorder remain undiagnosed and uncared for. In May 2020, the UN policy brief COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health stated: “This historic underinvestment in mental health needs to be redressed without delay to reduce immense suffering among hundreds of millions of people and mitigate long-term social and economic costs to society.”

HelloBetter won’t solve this problem alone, but we strive to be part of the solution.

Q: Tell us about your product? What problem is it solving and what makes your solution unique?

HK: Research has shown that besides the structural barriers (such as high cost, no access to mental health care, long waiting times), attitudinal barriers also play a critical role in restricting access to mental health care that works.

People with mental health problems often try to deal with their mental stress and symptoms on their own before reaching out to a professional for help. In fact, research from the WHO World Mental Health surveys has shown that the desire to handle the problem on its own was the most common barrier among respondents with a disorder who perceived a need for treatment.

HelloBetter makes cognitive behavioral therapy universally accessible by offering highly engaging digital therapeutics for a broad portfolio of mental disorders. All of which have been proven to be effective in at least one randomized, controlled trial. Within the digital course, there also is a small human component where a qualified HelloBetter psychologist or psychotherapist interacts with the client on a weekly basis. They support them, answer questions about the course, and help them in whatever way they can to maintain and improve their mental well-being. The courses are designed in a way that invites clients to share information about themselves, making it an interactive and engaging solution. This allows the coach to get a good overview of how they are doing and whether they are making progress over time.

Five out of our ten online programmes are listed in Germany's DiGA directory, making them available on prescription and free of charge to 73 million people in Germany.

Q: How did you start your journey and where are you now on the road to achieving your ambition?

HK: The company was founded in 2015 as a university spin-off under the name GET.ON Institute by internationally renowned research psychologists. Since then, we have built strong partnerships, e.g. with BARMER, one of the biggest public health insurance companies in Germany, and Allianz.

In particular, 2021 was a transformative year for HelloBetter. We got three of our products listed as DiGA, making them available on prescription and free of charge to 73 million people in Germany. Furthermore, Stiftung Warentest, Germany’s highly reputable and enormously powerful consumer review institution, confirmed our leadership position by declaring us the winner of a comprehensive test of a broad range of digital mental health solutions.

In September 2021, we successfully closed our Series A financing round of 6 million Euros. We are looking forward to continuing our rapid growth, so that we can empower as many people as possible to manage their own mental health and improve their quality of life.

Q: Can you share a story of a client using your product/service and what influence it had on them?

HK: Recently, Martin (37) has completed the HelloBetter Stress and Burnout programmes and shared his experiences with us. After his burnout diagnosis, Martin realized that the waiting time for therapy was at least 6 months. That’s when he googled for online courses and found HelloBetter and the option to get access via prescription.

We asked Martin what his greatest sense of achievement or realization during the course was.

“My greatest sense of achievement was, after 12 years of working under constant pressure, to realize that I need breaks, and how I must organize them to be restful. As a media worker, who must be creative at the push of a button, this was a big realization for me! Up until now, everything has revolved around performance and success - I only perceived my empty battery as a nuisance and ignored the warning signals of my body and psyche. It was also a milestone to slowly allow myself to feel and understand my emotions again. The fact that feelings are like waves, how you ride them and what they actually want to tell you, opened my eyes.

The course is very simple, and you are encouraged to take small breaks even during the lessons. For me, the course was a kind of job replacement during my sick leave - except that I worked for and on myself.”

In addition, we asked Martin about his conclusion after the end of the programmes and his feeling in the meantime. Martin answered: “Not only would I recommend the programmes to others, but I would also recommend them to everyone as a preventative measure before they fall into the burnout trap! If I had worked through this course a year ago, I would have never become so badly ill, and I would have been able to change my behavior in time. I am totally enthusiastic about the course. I can continue using it daily, and I can go through all the lessons again at any time if I feel like I need to!

Most of my symptoms, have completely disappeared or have improved significantly - and that in just a few weeks!”

Q: What is your company’s biggest achievement to date?

HK: Our biggest achievements are the 33 clinical studies that underly the effectiveness of our online therapy courses. As well as the DiGA approval of four of our products, making them available to 73 million people in Germany, free of charge.

Q: How do you see your company making a difference in the future?

HK: We believe that mental health is a human right. Therefore, we will continue to bring evidence-based digital therapeutics into the standard of care, by lowering the threshold to access quality and effective therapy solutions to people in need.

Q: How is the current situation impacting your business? What is your company’s immediate response to the situation? What are the alternatives (products, services) you are now thinking on?

HK: In April 2020, HelloBetter, together with Allianz and over 20 partners from academia, non-profit and industry, launched free mental health support during the pandemic, called ‘Calm Through The Crisis.’ This initiative was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the world’s most outstanding initiatives in grappling with the pandemic’s aftermath. Overall, our online therapy courses open new pathways to reinvent and improve the existing mental health landscape. The future of health care will inevitably blend in-person, virtual and digital care experiences.

Q: How did Tech Tour help you on your journey? What is the most useful part of our programmes for you?

HK: It is a great opportunity to showcase HelloBetter and connect with experienced investors.