Primrose Hill Entrepreneurs
Local Entrepreneur Petar Savic talks to Christine Beardsell about her start-up business, Liminal Health
Christine loves creating experiences that add value to people’s lives. For the past twenty years she has been a leader in the content marketing space, working with brands such as Amex, Vitality and O2 to create content and build communities grounded in advice, self-help and support. She started her career in NYC where she co-founded the content arm of Digitas; this resulted in her moving to London in 2010 to expand the business in the UK and Europe. In 2020, after meeting co-founder and breast cancer survivor Candice Hampson, Christine was inspired to pivot in her career to launch Liminal Health. The start-up’s goal is to help people affected by long-term illnesses to find the support and content they need on their journey.
What does your company Liminal Health do?
Liminal Health works with employers to provide remote health coaching and personalised content, activating lifestyle and behaviour change in staff affected by chronic and long-term conditions such as cancer, diabetes, IBS, and most recently long Covid.
My co-founder, Candice Hampson, was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer at age 32 in 2015, with a recurrence two years later. Whilst she is now healthy and thriving, our company’s mission was inspired by her personal experience and her desire to provide others affected by a long-term illness with the support she didn’t have herself and sorely needed.
Why health coaching and content?
Candice and I didn’t just rely on her experience: we talked to a large number of people affected by cancer and other chronic and long-term conditions. We kept hearing the same three pain points: the need for more emotional support, the desire to find credible information around the lifestyle changes one can make, and the motivation and support to make those changes.
Also, every person’s journey is different. Health coaches provide bespoke support, tailored to each individual’s practical and emotional aspirations. Our coaches help people to identify areas where they want to take positive, proactive action, ranging from practical lifestyle changes to themes such as diet, exercise, stress, sleep, relationships and more.
But we didn’t stop there. We want to provide people with credible, supporting information and make health coaching as scalable as possible. That’s where my background in data-driven content comes in. We believe that pairing human coaching alongside personal, self-guided content will allow the health coaching experience to be more scalable and accessible to everyone.
The employee well-being space is pretty crowded, so how do you stand out?
We’re really happy that well-being is becoming such an important focus for UK companies!
There has been a wave of new mental health apps and services launched in the last three years, which has made it less taboo to talk openly in the workplace around mental illness and wellness in general. However, there is still a lot of work to be done; and when it comes to people with chronic and long-term conditions, this couldn’t be felt more acutely.
A third of England’s workforce have one or more long-term health conditions. We were shocked to discover this. People with a physical condition take more days off work and are more susceptible to mental illness; they are the ones who often need support the most. So for us it goes way beyond a mental health focus; it’s about treating the whole person and the mind‒body connection. This is where we see a real gap and where a more personalised, lifestyle-driven health coach fits in.
What is your relationship with Primrose Hill?
I moved to London ten years ago from NYC. When I made the change, I knew that I didn’t want to live in a part of London that reminded me of New York. I felt that if I settled in Shoreditch or near the city I would always be comparing and contrasting the two cities! I pretty much fell in love with Primrose Hill the moment I moved here. For someone coming from the US it’s a picture perfect postcard of what you think a London neighbourhood should look like. There is a laid-back vibe and quirkiness to the village and its culture, but at the same time you are a 20-minute walk to central London.
How did you find working remotely during the pandemic?
I’m lucky in that Liminal Health has been built as a remote-first business, which we felt was important when starting a new business today. During lockdown, I didn’t feel the urge to leave the village much at all. Melrose and Morgan became an extension of our kitchen when it came to things like fresh bread, milk and eggs. Sam’s Cafe reopened right around the corner from us and offers a new option for a midday coffee break or a latte on the way to the park. The park itself became my morning gym and my place to mentally unwind at the end of each working day. I’m truly lucky to be based in such a lovely part of London.
What is the future for you and Liminal Health?
Like most early stage start-ups, we are dividing our time between sales, fundraising and making sure our product is as amazing as it can be for the people we serve. For the first two points, we would love to connect with people who understand the value of what we are doing and who want to be part of our journey, either as a UK employer to pilot our product, or as an investor. For the last point, we have a Head of Product joining us in the New Year to accelerate our app that will work alongside the desktop experience. We’re super excited about that!
Our wider vision is a world where everyone finds it easy to be proactive about their health, but chronic and long-term conditions are our priority; it’s where we feel we can make the quickest and biggest impact. We hope our product can be a companion for those looking to take control of their health and make the lifestyle changes needed for better outcomes.