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Corporate wellbeing programmes and your bottom line

Sohini De’s Wind of Change is a wellbeing platform for your corporate health

Sohini De: “Winds of Change is highly automated and uses an intelligent algorithm to generate personalised wellbeing protocols for each user.” Photograph: Andrew Downes, xposure.ie

Sohini De is a former global equities fund manager who spent 18 years focused on delivering investment results for her clients. However, when she made a major career change into corporate wellness in 2017, she quickly discovered that although companies were spending heavily on wellness programmes they had little to show for it by way of tangible results.

Furthermore, they didn’t seem to know how to measure return on investment in this context. It was this knowledge deficit that sparked the idea for De’s startup, Wind of Change, an analytics-driven wellbeing platform designed to boost personal and organisational productivity by making corporate health and wellbeing programmes more accountable.  

 “Despite huge spending I could see that wellness programmes were missing a key component – not delivering a measurable return on investment. Second, programmes were not individualised so many fell at the first hurdle of employee engagement,” says De who trained as a chartered financial analyst and has an MBA in finance. “Wind of Change addresses both issues. We provide quantified outcomes and a feedback loop for the three stakeholders involved (companies, employees and healthcare providers) and a high level of personalisation for users.”

Ireland and India

Wind of Change moved into the NDRC-backed Portershed innovation hub in Galway in 2019 and De, who also has a base at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin, then spent a year talking to companies and HR professionals while testing ideas and developing her MPV. In January of this year V.1 of the company’s product was launched and it already has paying customers in Ireland and India. The business model is WaaS – wellbeing as a service – and De is aiming Wind of Change at the global market. The company will shortly move into the UK and the UAE where it has secured a local investor. Wind of Change employs four people and is currently recruiting in Ireland and India.

 “Our service is certainly disruptive,” De says. “It’s highly automated and uses an intelligent algorithm to generate personalised wellbeing protocols for each user. Employee welfare is now mainstream and companies can use our service to stay ahead in the war for talent. Existing programmes have engagement levels as low as 5-8 per cent. This is money being wasted and organisations are not getting the returns they’re expecting. Employee engagement and talent retention are serious issues for HR directors, but a lack of hard information means they can’t make solid proposals to management fix these problems. Wind of Change provides the evidence-based data they need to do so.”

Full health

As a fund manager, De had specialised in food and agriculture investments. This sparked an interest in functional medicine-based nutrition and De spent four years studying the subject while still doing her day job. “Doing the course confirmed for me that there is a world market in broad-based wellness and I have combined my investment experience and my nutritional training to create my business,” she says. “I had some serious health issues myself and this drove me to devise the first iteration of Wind of Change which helped bring me back to full health. From having had to crawl up the stairs in my home I am now fit and well and running a global health start-up.”

To date about €500,000 has been invested in Wind of Change including founder equity of €70,000, angel funding, private investment and support from the NDRC and Enterprise Ireland. De says the company is now looking to raise about €4 million to expand the team and develop out its service. “Wind of Change is my business, but it’s also my passion,” she says. “I understand the stress and pressure people are under and I want to help as many of them as possible to make changes for the better.”

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