Office Hours: I help people lead healthier, happier livesFeatured

Hi everyone! I’m Grace Gimson, cofounder and CEO of Holly Health, an AI coach for population scale health and happiness. Prior to founding Holly Health, I was Chief of Staff at Scape Technologies, which was acquired by Facebook and prior to that, I launched 40 markets at Deliveroo where I was Head of Market Launch Operations. Prior to Deliveroo, I managed a network of multimillion $ retail stores at Aldi.My cofounder, Claire, and I are navigating the world of VC fundraising and product development as a women founded team πŸ™Œ. Ask me anything about the founder journey, startup operations, product development, modern world health challenges, and more!
Thanks so much for joining us @graceg!Elphas – please ask @graceg your questions before Friday, February 19th. @graceg may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites πŸ”₯πŸ‘πŸΎβž•
Hi @graceg, what has been the greatest challenge of fundraising in terms of gender inequality? And how have you managed to navigate that?
Hi Daniela. Great question. It's opened my eyes much more to implicit bias (which is faced by many different minority groups). There's no getting around the fact that strong white males are perceived as being more competent generally. A couple of things which I've learnt to focus on through our process:- It's ok to show fact we've had to learn to be way more outwardly confident- Fundraising is not the place to be overly accommodating. I've tried to throw out the over the top sorry/please/thankyous- I've learnt to divert backwards questions into forwards questions (e.g. if they ask about a minor detail about something you have done or are doing now, switch it into something exciting which you and the business will achieve in the future)
Hello @graceg! I’m interested to know how you landed the exciting role at Deliveroo from your retail/ corporate experience prior to that. I have been working in the corp world and find it so hard to get a foot into the startup / tech side of things, even though my experience could be quite relevant. Appreciate any advice!
Hi Angie, ooo good question. I actually joined Deliveroo before people had a clue what Deliveroo was (I saw a job ad on and applied). Some people thought I was crazy to leave a strong role with great salary to join a small startup on a lower one, but I recognised the need for the product and the hunger in the team, and knew it was going somewhere. If you're interested in startup opportunities I suggest keeping a close eye on the newest companies popping up and when you have conviction in their product, join it as early as you can as they will gain huge value from your structured operational experience. Also remember you can reach out without them posting a specific job!
Thanks for the advice @graceg! It’s particularly motivating to hear it from someone who actually made it!! I want to ask a follow up question, what characteristics of Deliveroo made you feel it was heading to the right directions - business, market, maybe the team? Thank you!
Hi Grace! What a great mission! What inspired your journey to the creation of Holly Health? Any pivotal moment you can share?
Hi Hannah, thank you! It's actually been quite a long build up. I knew since I was a teenager that I'd love to launch a global product in the future and do something useful. I think I recognised business creation as the only way to have real control over my future (my dad was made redundant after 30 years with one employer). And I've always recognised psychological wellbeing as being one of the biggest problems in the modern world - Holly was born out of years of seeing friends, colleagues and society struggle in various ways. It's a lot of fun working on something which we hope will be very useful!
So many health tools catered to women focus on quantified weight loss without addressing other concerns such as energy, fitness, or mental health. What makes weight loss with Holly Health better and more sustainable compared other programs or low-calorie diets? Is Holly Health safe and suitable for someone with a history of disordered eating?
Hi Idella - this is such an important question, thanks for asking it. We completely agree, and created Holly for this exact reason. We think that psychological state comes before anything else, and unfortunately the majority of the population have a problematic relationship with food. We're building Holly to be the psychological support system to help people with behaviours across mental health, sleep, nutrition and exercise, with a primary focus on how you feel. Our first version of Holly (launching in the Spring) is not specifically designed to support people with a history of disordered eating, but we want to build in the additional support mechanisms shortly after launch, so that we can be confident that it will be suitable for everyone as soon as possible. Best, Grace
Hi Grace! Thanks for joining us for office hours!There was this thread recently about a founder wishing her cap table is more diverse with women angel investors. I'm curious how you think about diversity of those who you try to fundraise from, and any of the challenges that may come along with that!
Hi Teresa, thanks for your question. We were keen to proactively seek female angels to join our cap table right from the beginning, so started off well. With VCs you often have less choice which parter you talk with but there has been an element of self selection for us - inherently our product resonates more with women than men and so many of our later stage investor chats have been with women partners. We have also had passes too, often from people who don't really understand our product, and often men. We want to do all we can to have both women and men on our board as we grow, I think this is becoming more achievable as more women are now joining VC firms
Hi Grace - thanks so much for doing this! (also...I LOVE Aldi)Congrats on the hard work and success with Holly Health thus far!! I absolutely love the animations and graphics on your site.What have been your biggest challenges or questions from a tech perspective as a founder? Alternatively, what have been your biggest software design or development insights or lessons from building a product specifically for health?For context, I work at a boutique product studio that is actually re-branding to work with clients in health, wellness, and HCIT exclusively. Most of our work comes through word of mouth, but we're trying to figure out other non-spammy ways to attract new clients. 😊
Hi Mollie, haha I also still love Aldi! Thanks very much.From a tech perspective - one learning is that there are now amazing tools out there to get started very early (including low code and no code tools like Landbot, and alternative databases like Airtable), we were able to do a lot with a little when we first got started. A challenge we will be facing is the medical device approval process (which can be quite slow and drawn out), but because we've known the requirements from the beginning, we've made sure to create the product with those in mind throughout.From a design + product perspective, my biggest recommendation for any new founder is to take a staggered approach, build a first version and test it, to get conviction, before moving to full service development (this goes for branding/features/engineering). Then you can have huge amounts of confidence in the full service you bring to market - ours will be launching in the Spring and we can't wait. I bet you have clients coming to the studio saying they think they know what they want, but have they really tested it out with users - interested to know if you have a process to help them do a mockup or to check their hypotheses first? We worked with a studio too, and found them due to good ratings on here:
Thank you!! Definitely agree that product validation is a key discussion topic with our early founder clients. Super helpful to know you used to search for an agency!
Thank you for joining us for Office Hours!One thing really triggered me (and rubbed me the wrong way). When you say "we make disease preventable" - from an investor perspective don't you worry about any liability here? Stating that you can make disease preventable could be seen as a big idea and not something you can necessarily measure?I'd love to be proven wrong so would love to hear your thoughts on your methodology and process to measure that. Thanks!
Hi Iynna, you're right to think that there is some level of challenge with the scale of the Holly vision, but the good news is there's a lot of scientific data to point us in the right direction (i.e. XYZ combination of behaviours = X likelihood of preventing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease for example). We've also designed the approach to be relevant to people from a huge variety of starting points, where depending on the challenges they face, we support them to focus on the behaviours which will be most useful to them, and also further adapt as they are using the service - this is how we can help people to achieve results for various conditions
Thank you for responding Grace! This makes a lot of sense.
Curious, how are you incorporating intuitive wisdom within an AI coach?