Buddy With: Yuliana Topazly

Experiencing mental health issues after quitting work because she was refused flexible working, Yuliana Topazly was determined to help others

Name: Yuliana Topazly
Company Name: Buddy With
Location: London
Twitter handle: @BuddyWithMum
Website: www.buddywith.org.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Buddy With offers wellbeing services, resources and access to peer-to-peer networks and support organisations for working parents, helping corporates to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

88% of working parents suffer from stress-related illnesses but only 11% talk to their line managers about frustration and wellbeing.

Being a parent myself, I was a victim of being refused flexible working and it forced me to make some very hard choices in my life, leaving my work place and experiencing mental health issues.

Through experience I met a lot of other parents in a very similar situation, and realised that the problem is huge and must be addressed. That’s when I decided to do something about it, so I created the Buddy With platform to help corporates to address, and potentially prevent, the problem.

How did you know there was a market for it?

You just have to look at the stats:

  • 88% of working parents are suffering from health-related problems. 81% worry they will burn out.
  • 77% of working parents say burn out has caused them to become depressed or anxious or get sick more often. Around 8-in-10 working parents and managers agree a change needs to be made at the office, not at home, to curb burnout.
  • 15.2 million days of sickness absence across the UK in 2013 were caused by everyday conditions such as stress, anxiety or depression costing UK economy £15.1bn per annum. 

What were you doing before starting up?

I was a student enterprise manager, promoting a spirit of enterprise, developing and running enterprise schemes in educational institutions.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, I always wanted to start my own business and help others. Social impact is as important to me as financial sustainability.

How did you raise the money?

I have secured initial funding from Unltd and Croydon Partnership, which helped to develop and test the platform.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

The platform works on a subscription model, organisations can subscribe to offer services, information and resources to working parents within their organisation.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Not being a technical person, I found it quite difficult explaining to people what I needed in technical terms, especially when I tried to communicate to the developers about the vision.

What was your first big breakthrough?

The first break through was when I had an opportunity to speak to the PwC wellbeing department and they were interested in some of the added value our platform offers, referring us to their women’s network.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

  • Invest your time in market research
  • Learn how to make quick decisions, there are no guarantees but if you wait too long – opportunity may go away
  • Have a mentor, it is great when you have somebody to share ideas with, ask for advice and have additional support

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I want Buddy With to be used by every corporate and improve working conditions and support available for working parents.