Riliv helps to ease stress by connecting users to professional psychologists and encouraging them to meditate.
Awareness about mental health issues has been rising lately. More people are now brave enough to share their personal stories in overcoming mental health by seeking help from professionals, something that previously would result in negative stigma. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that more than 300 million of the world’s population were suffering from depression, which is the most prevalent mental disorder and one of the biggest causes of suicide. In Indonesia, the Health Ministry noted in the Basic Health Survey (Riskesdas) 2018 that the prevalence of depression in the population was 6.1%, about 14 million people, yet only 9% of these receive medical treatment.
However, getting professionals to help overcome mental health issues is not that easy in this country. Besides the negative stigma that still persists, albeit starting to decline, there are relatively few professional clinical psychologists and these are mostly based on Java Island. According to the Association of Clinical Psychologists (IPK) Indonesia, there are only 1,751 verified clinical psychologists listed as members, and only 75 community health centers (Puskesmas) and 286 hospitals throughout Indonesia provide a clinical psychologist service.
Audrey Maximillian Herli (27) realized there was an opportunity to solve this problem through technology. That drove him to take the initiative of creating a platform named Riliv that connects users to certified psychologists online. Maxi, as he is known, brought along his brother Audy Christopher Herli (29) who now acts as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, while Maxi is the company’s CEO. Maxi and Audy developed the platform in 2015 and used the verb “Relieve” as a name, later on they changed it to Riliv for simplicity. As a result of their innovation in catering solutions for mental health issues in society, Forbes Indonesia honored the brothers’ efforts by listing them in the 30 Under 30 Class of 2020 under the category of Sociopreneur.
The trigger for creating the app, Maxi explains, was the phenomenon of people sharing their personal problems on social media. However, this often does not result in support and motivation but mockery instead. Eventually it leads to cyberbullying that can make the situation even worse.
“So I thought, why don’t we create a platform where people can safely share all of their personal problems there so they can get relief?” he says. “At the very start, Riliv was merely an application for telling stories from users to users. Basically it was only a community.”
Maxi says Riliv started with laptops, internet connection and help from a programmer friend who developed the application. Then Maxi, who studied information systems at Airlangga University, asked his friends from the psychology department to join Riliv as peer counselors. Initially, they simply wanted to validate the idea and see the market reception.
The demand turned out to be so great that Maxi and Audy decided to focus on making their start-up project grow. Audy, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Brawijaya University, took a leap of faith and quit his catering business. In the same year, both joined Start Surabaya, a business incubator program run by the Surabaya, East Java, administration in collaboration with Digitaraya, in order to get a better understanding of how a start-up works. Now the Surabaya-based company has 10 full-time staff and up to 30 interns to run the business.
Joining the business incubator program shifted Riliv’s business model. It began approaching certified psychologists from the Indonesian Psychology Association (HIMPSI) to provide online counseling on the apps and charge fees to users in early 2016. For a one-time one-hour session, users only need to pay Rp 100,000, which is much lower than a face-to-face counseling session that can cost more than Rp 500,000. Users can also book up to 12 counseling sessions for four months by paying Rp 924,000 up front. Maxi says they are able to cut costs as the counseling is done online, hence there are no additional costs like rent or transportation needed. The company uses a revenue sharing method with the psychologists whereby they receive an undisclosed percentage from each session.
Currently, Riliv has more than 100 certified psychologists registered as partners who provide on-demand services for over 200,000 users. Most of the users are residents of large cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, as well as Indonesians who live overseas such as in South Korea or the United Kingdom. Maxi says about 9% of the users have their first time interaction with psychologists through Riliv.
“Most of them say they are glad to be connected with psychologists without having to face the negative stigma of society. The stigma is the biggest reason for them to avoid professionals,” he explains.
However, should the users need further assistance in handling their problems, the psychologists will refer them for a face-to-face counseling session with the nearest psychologist or psychiatrist, Maxi says. “This online counseling does not necessarily replace offline counseling. This is one of the ways to get closer to psychologists, but some cases still need intensive sessions.”
Besides providing solutions for mental health problems, Riliv also offers preventive measures, releasing a meditation feature last year. With this feature, users are guided on meditation sessions in the Indonesian language for various situations such as panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed or distracted. Users pay a subscription fee of Rp 250,000 per year for this feature. The company also released a mood tracker feature recently to help users become mindful of their emotions. Whenever the users fill in the tracker, they receive a meditation recommendation based on their mood.
“Our basic vision is to solve people’s problems, but we have to treat this as a business and cannot go fully social because we have to be sustainable. We need to be independent and not rely on donors,” Maxi says.
On the back of bootstrapping from grants and receiving seed-round funding from an angel investor, Maxi says Riliv plans to raise Series A funding this year. Besides that, the company is going to make the application available on iOS, as it is currently only accessible on Android smartphones. He also aims to grow the business not only as B2C but also B2B. Starting last year, Riliv provided corporate packages for counseling and meditation features so employees of subscribing companies can get access by entering voucher codes. Currently, the corporate clients mostly come from the education and financial sectors.
“We want people to be aware of mental health and take preventive measures, not only curative actions,” Maxi says.