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Flex your emotional muscles | TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario

With continued emphasis on well-being to build productivity, engagement and creativity in our regular everyday lives, ventures such as DifferentMatters are presented with endless opportunities to innovate the way businesses, employees and individuals view their workplace culture. In another one of such pursuits, President at DifferentMatters, Todd Attridge and Special Projects Lead at DifferentMatters, Lora Crestan, are now introducing a one-of-its-kind online platform – a gym for emotional fitness, The Studio.    
Recent studies by human resources SaaS company, Bamboo HR, show that employees have had low morale in past three years, and this can potentially cost $8.8 trillion to the global economy. The reasons are endless – the advent of the ‘hustle culture’, rising costs of inflation and blurring lines between professional and personal lives of remote workers. But for Attridge, the reason is deeper. “I have noticed that the leadership team, at most companies, understand productivity, but they often lack the understanding of what is it that is preventing employees from being productive.” Attridge and Crestan’s years of research have led them to understand the importance of creating the perfect balance between aspirations and capacities. “When a star employee pushes hard, they become efficient at their jobs. They eventually get promoted or get recognized for their contributions and feel as though they always have to be that person. And then as time goes on, they feel that they have lost the agency to say no or set boundaries. This leads to more tasks on their plate than they actually have the capacity to deal with and that feeling of overwhelm leads to running over capacity and feeling of dissatisfaction,” shares Attridge.

With their one-of-its-kind emotional fitness gym, DifferentMatters is looking to help employees and individuals transition to a life of emotional strength, resilience and calm. Just like your local gym, this virtual gym for your emotional health will provide exercises, access to personal coaches, group classes and a community of support! Inspired by the learnings from the likes of Brene Brown, researcher and storyteller studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy; James Clear, the author of The Atomic Habits and Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, the DifferentMatters team built the foundation of their latest product offering on the idea of behavioral change. “Our focus was on how we can help people build good habits, leading to great teams that help build great businesses,” shares Crestan. Leveraging the power of building positive habits, Crestan and Certified Dare to Lead Facilitator, Attridge designed The Studio to offer small bite-sized learnings to exercise different emotional muscles through repeated exercises. To further complement the linear learning phase and successfully build a habit, The Studio also provides exercises that emphasize reflection upon an individual’s learning from these bite-sized learnings and their application in their day-to-day lives.   

To avoid The Studio from being just another app out there, DifferentMatters is tackling the lack of human connection in applications and software by providing a customized user experience and various human touchpoints in their programming. “We have the live chats functionality, a space for the community to chat with each other, the group classes and personal coaches that all help with the human connection. How AI helps is in the actual habit building process,” shares Attridge. The AI assistant, a puppy named ‘Cliff’, will not only help in creating a customized journey for every individual utilizing the application, but also help with the reflection on their learnings, and how far they have progressed. “We don’t want to build one app for a million people. We want to build an app that has a million functions for a million people. There should be a million journeys, one for every single individual,” shares Crestan. In the analogue version of The Studio features, DifferentMatters recorded over $1M in revenue in the past 5 years which demonstrates a need for emotional fitness in the workplace. The positive affirmation received from their corporate clients drives the additional features of The Studio, so it can reach a broader audience.  

Reflecting on their own journey of expansion from a leadership development organization to helping companies build a strong workplace culture and now adding a unique Canadian flagship digital product of its own, DifferentMatters credits their growth to the relentless support from the community and the guidance from TechAlliance. “AI really was not only a buzz word when we first started working with TechAlliance and so, when OpenAI emerged, our work with TechAlliance really opened our eyes to the other possibilities and applications of this. Thinking about AI took our app from something that was going to be great to something that is actually now going to be quite wild!,” shares Attridge.

We have tapped into several helpful resources from TechAlliance, including some valuable advice from their Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) network. The pitch deck training that Todd has been receiving from TechAlliance is worth millions of dollars from a value perspective as it has truly helped us get ready for our upcoming funding rounds.

Lora Crestan, Special Projects Lead at DifferentMatters

With their prototype in the works, preparation for their Alpha Startup booth space at Collision 2024 and getting ready to find angel investors for pre-seed funding rounds, DifferentMatters is well onway to growth and transforming how how the world sees emotional fitness as an integral part of every individual’s well-being. 

Check out The Studio here. 

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