BetterUp CEO explains Prince Harry's role at the tech startup
New York (CNN Business)Prince Harry has found a new gig: The Duke of Sussex joined a startup called BetterUp as chief impact officer, which provides mental health services and coaching to clients online. The job announcement came weeks after he and wife Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they spoke on the mental health struggles that came with royal life.
First Move’s Julia Chatterley spoke to CEO Alexi Robichaux about Harry’s role at BetterUp and the company’s mission.
CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia is a client of BetterUp.
Explain the mission please. I read it as providing a gym for mental health. What does that mean?
Robichaux: The easiest way to think about BetterUp is that we’re taking what was traditionally been thought of as competitive coaching and putting that into the pockets of workers and professionals worldwide. We are a professional, mobile platform that connects individuals with one-on-one dedicated coaching they can do related to leadership, sleep, nutrition and parenting. They do this over video chat and text message from the convenience of their phone.
You say it’s A.I. enabled. What does that mean in practice?
Robichaux: You can think of eHarmony. We use machine learning and artificial intelligence to help find the coaches that are the right match for you. We look across 120 variables from the data you give us through a quick questionnaire. It feels natural, comfortable, energizing, and it feels safe.
So explain Prince Harry’s role. What is a chief impact officer?
Robichaux: We came to the title together. We were organically having these conversations how the mission of BetterUp is bigger than BetterUp. He’s been doing this work in his own life for years. We can change the global dialogue to not think of mental health as the absence of mental illness, but to think about mental health as performance and realizing your potential. That is a huge global impact that BetterUp can be part of. He can keep us accountable and also accelerate that by expanding our global community, reach, and influencing everything from our product experience to helping partner with companies and organizations globally to expand our impact around the world.
What was it about his experience and CV that makes you believe he is the right person for this role?
Robichaux: First and foremost, it’s who he is as a person. I was so impressed with his genuine and sincere desire to be of service and to make a positive impact in the world. Secondly, he’s done the work, from Heads Together to the Invictus games. He has an incredible track record related to advancing this mission of mental fitness. Long before we had the opportunity meeting him, I had always had a daydream that maybe we would be fortunate enough to work with someone like him, who’s been one of the leading forces in the world for mental health. We could not have thought of someone better for this role and we’re thrilled to work with him.
Critics will look at this and say it’s a great whopping PR stunt. When you look at the Oprah Winfrey interview, do you worry he could be a distraction for the broader business?
Robichaux: I think the main thing is sure, we’ll take the PR. That’s not why we started working with Prince Harry. His insight and unique experiences is hard to put into words. That’s where we’re focused and designed the role around.
How much is Prince Harry going to get paid?
Robichaux: As you can imagine, we don’t disclose anyone’s compensation, so we’re not able to comment on that.
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