MeeToo is a platform for 11- to-25-year-olds that aims to make it easy to talk about difficult things. It is free, safe and anonymous, moderated by a small team of trained professionals.
It is rapidly becoming a ‘go to’ place for young people to turn to because, as one 20-year-old user explains, “It’s like a big family where you can talk about your day, however good or bad – and there will always be someone to offer praise or a solution”.
MeeToo started with the simple idea of providing space where young people can share stories and others can say, ‘…yes, me too!’, and ease anxiety for themselves or others by knowing they are not alone. As one 13-year-old female user says, “When you receive advice, you feel amazing – and I feel even better when I’m able to help someone out.”
The platform was founded in 2015 by Kerstyn Comley and Suzi Godson. The two met sitting in a sports hall while their daughters, then age 11, were trampolining. The stars aligned: Suzi, a sex and relationship columnist, wanted to create a space for young people to talk about mental health and Kerstyn, a free-school founder and engineer, had the technical, data and education experience to help bring it to life.
By early 2016, they had a prototype for the social enterprise, and by 2017 they were ready to launch the app. Kerstyn explains, “It’s been like a steam train puling us along and we now have up to 6,000 users visiting the app every month.”
Kerstyn continues, “We know MeeToo is needed, and independent research has proven that it works. The big question is how to turn our altruistic project into something sustainable. As we are free to the user, revenue to sustain the organisation needs to come from somewhere else.”
Now in its fifth year, it is that question of growth and sustainability that led MeeToo to join The Young Foundation’s BOOST programme – a six-month programme that has helped organisations scale-up through making connections and forging partnerships.
Kerstyn continues, “Having found lots of start-up support, there was a wilderness when seeking support to grow. BOOST has given us much needed ‘scale-up’ support, connected us to different organisations, and provided challenge when we needed it. Connecting us to different organisations has been helpful; the key is finding true alignment.”
BOOST has also supported MeeToo to prepare for and begin a £2m investment round. This funding will support the development of its new data insights offer, MeeToo Insights, and bolster their highly-qualified community response team. There is an economy of scale in the peer-to-peer model: a small increase in headcount will significantly improve its capacity to support more users.
MeeToo Insights generates revenue as it is a subscription service. Currently, it provides around 54 schools, local authorities and health services with localised data on what young people are really concerned about. Its USP is a rich and broad data point that allows schools and local authorities to better respond with the kinds of support young people need, locally, regionally or nationally, at that time.
Warwickshire is one of the first councils to access MeeToo’s data insights for nine schools. Their Lead Family and Wellbeing Commissioner shares their experience of using the service: “There have definitely been a few surprises in terms of what children and young people have been talking about, but also some insights we were expecting, which is helpful in terms of demonstrating we are focusing on the right priorities.”
MeeToo’s investment round will allow it to invest further in machine learning and AI, and to develop a platform for practitioners to access the data insights. With this in place, it will expand to more schools and regions, have capacity to support over 8,000 users a month, and be profitable by 2023.
For this social enterprise, profitability is essential to ensure the organisation can continue to offer its free service to young people, many of whom provide ringing endorsements. “So happy to be a part of this community,” says one 16-year-old user, “and I’m very grateful this app exists”.
BOOST 2021 has been part of the government-backed Inclusive Economy Partnership, which aimed to improve the lives of people across the UK, through partnerships. The Young Foundation continues to explore new forms of partnerships as part of legacy activities for BOOST in 2021, focussed on cross-organisational partnerships. Please email email@example.com for more information.