Mental health affects us all, but as Eve Staszczyszyn, a co-founder of Compass tells ventureLAB, young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and substance use disorders than any other age group. Having seen first-hand how this impacted fellow students at the University of Ottawa, she says she and her Compass co-founder, Livia Han, decided to take action.
“In undergrad, [Livia and I] were on our own mental health journeys, and we were in a place where we were indirectly and directly affected by mental health challenges,” Eve says.” We saw a lot of our peers struggling to receive the support they needed. We saw that the space was really fragmented as it related to finding resources. And we were in a place where there were a number of tragic suicides at our own university, so it didn’t feel right to graduate without trying to respond in an actionable way.”
The duo started leading mindfulness meditations on campus and then across Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. It was through these events they really began to learn about some of the challenges facing people who tried to take a first step toward mental-health support.
That’s how Compass, a unique platform that connects students to mental health and wellness resources based on their own needs and identity, was born.
The web-application centralizes resources, whether they be online, offline, on-campus or Compass exclusive (which are resources that the Compass team has created on their own to address some of the gaps the team sees in the system) so student unions and schools have the needed resources to share with students. Eve says their most popular feature is an assessment tool that helps match an individual with the right types of resources for them.
Compass partners with post-secondary student unions and administration to implement the web-application that centralizes resources, whether they be online, offline, on-campus or Compass exclusive (which are resources that the Compass team has created on their own to address some of the gaps the team sees in the system). Eve says their most popular feature is an assessment tool that matches an individual with the optimal types of resources for them.
“We’re unique in that we act as the connective tissue between the various resources and act as a mental-health concierge,” she notes. “It’s similar to how students have an academic portal to facilitate their learning, Compass is the portal that helps support their well-being.”
Eve says the team’s next big goal is to take the tool beyond Ontario and across Canada. After that, they want to go global. She adds that the experience she and Livia are having as part of ventureLAB’s 2022-23 Tech Undivided cohort is helping to facilitate those growth objectives.
"Our mentors, advisors, and community of founders are just so encouraging, open, vulnerable and thoughtful… we work very closely with our senior advisor who keeps us accountable and has helped us set up milestones for six months,” she says. “We’ve been really inspired in crafting these goals and ensuring they’re moving us forward in the right direction. It’s helping our startup focus on the right things.”
Speaking of focus, that’s one of the biggest pieces of advice she has for anyone looking to build a company.
“There are so many distractions and priorities, so it’s really important to exercise the ability to focus on what’s going to move the business forward and what’s going to enable greater impact.”
She adds working with mission-aligned team members who bring diverse strengths is key.
“Nobody makes it as far as they do if it’s not for the people behind them that are backing them and their mission. There’s this amazing reciprocity in the startup community. It’s a place of lifting one another, supporting one another and inspiring one another,” Eve says. “It’s a journey of waking up every day and facing yourself. It takes a lot of self-discipline, self-leadership, self-negotiation, self-preservation, self-awareness. Liv and I both recognize the need to grow as founders so that our business can grow.”
ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided initiative is creating an inclusive tech ecosystem that increases representation by removing barriers and reducing unconscious bias to give women founders an equitable opportunity to raise capital and generate revenue. Funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, as part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, Tech Undivided leverages a merit-based, gender-balanced Strategic Mentor Network of entrepreneurs and business experts and a growing network of industry partners, enabling women founders to grow and scale locally, and compete globally.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.