“Is Groov just an app?”


That’s a question we get asked a lot here at Groov. It’s true we started out as an app, but we’ve evolved significantly over the past four years. We’re now an end-to-end workplace mental wellbeing platform. Our platform helps your organisation, your leaders, and your people to feel good and function well – to find their Groov.


So, how did we evolve from an app to a SaaS platform, while staying true to our founding mission of helping people with their daily mental wellbeing? And what key lessons did we learn along the way?


We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share our journey with eMHIC readers. In this article, we’ll cover:


  • The beginnings of Groov – our founding story
  • Launching Mentemia, our mental wellbeing app for New Zealand workplaces
  • Developing and launching Embed, our workplace mental wellbeing platform for organisations all around the world
  • Our move to Groov
  • Our top 5 key learnings so far
  • What the future holds for Groov


Let’s dive in!


It all started with a question


“What if we could help people with their mental wellbeing at work?” long-time mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan asked tech entrepreneur Adam Clark over a drink at The Paddington in Parnell, Auckland.

Image: Sir John Kirwan (JK)

Sir John Kirwan – JK to most – has been tirelessly raising awareness about mental health for decades. He was knighted for his efforts (as well as his incredible contributions to rugby) in 2012. He’s well-known in New Zealand as the face of many anti-stigma campaigns about mental health. But, in 2018, Sir JK found himself at a low point. Even though more people were talking about mental health, people were still struggling, and stats were moving in the wrong direction.


Sir JK realised there was an opportunity to help people where they spend a huge amount of their time – at work. He’d also seen how powerful technology could be through his involvement with the award-winning website, depression.org. Sir JK knew he could help more people by harnessing the power of technology. He had the vision – what he needed next was the tech know-how.


Enter Adam Clark. One of the leading tech entrepreneurs in New Zealand, he was co-founder and CEO of mobile banking software provider M-Com which was acquired by Fiserv.com in 2011 and now serves over 3,000 banks around the world. Since returning to New Zealand in 2012, he’s participated in the establishment and growth of many of New Zealand’s most promising software companies, including two further exits via acquisition.


Adam was immediately on board with Sir JK’s vision for healthier, happier workplaces. And he posed another brilliant question on the fateful day in The Paddington: “Why focus on just workplaces in New Zealand? Why not the world?”


The seeds of Groov were planted, and they grew quickly from there.


Launching Mentemia


Groov started as a mental wellbeing app called Mentemia, which means “my mind” in Italian. The Mentemia app launched in New Zealand in 2019 for organisations wishing to improve workplace mental wellbeing.


Partnering with workplaces was always the plan – but then, the pandemic hit. With much of the world going into lockdown and mental wellbeing being more openly spoken about than ever before, Sir JK and the team saw an opportunity to help more people. We received funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Health to gift the Mentemia app to all New Zealanders for free as part of the government’s psycho-social response to the pandemic. We also helped the Australian population by launching a free version of the app there with the support of AIA Australia.


Mentemia now had two audiences to serve – people using the app in the workplace, and everyday people navigating the pandemic. We continued to grow our client-base, partnering with incredible organisations looking for ways to support their people, as well as cater for individuals downloading our free app.


The early versions of Mentemia featured our flagship tools: our Breathing Tool for guided deep breathing, and our Worry Map for turning anxiety into action. We also published new wellbeing articles almost daily, written with the goal of inspiring people to make positive changes to their mental wellbeing. Our mantra was “everyone better, every day”.


The Mentemia app made a real difference to people’s lives. Sir JK still gets stopped in the street with people saying “thank you for the app!”. Workplaces were also rolling out the app within their organisations and using it as a powerful tool for improving employee wellbeing. But, working with our incredible foundation customers, we learned they needed more than an app. They needed something that would help them create sustainable change at all levels and embed wellbeing into their workplace.


Enter Embed


Embed by Groov is a complete workplace mental wellbeing programme. We developed Embed to successfully bake a culture of wellbeing into workplaces. Embed is an action-based approach that focuses on action and behaviour change. The tailored programme includes six key elements that target all levels of an organisation. Embed is more than just an app, or a survey tool, or an e-learning platform. Many digital wellbeing platforms offer one or two of these solutions, but Embed offers them all.


Here’s a glimpse at the complete Embed product suite:


  • Playbook: Our step-by-step guide to embedding a culture of wellbeing in your workplace.
  • App: The go-to place for personalised wellbeing, where people can find and stay in their Groov.
  • Ritual Builder: A simple way for leaders to introduce small wellbeing habits across their organisation for lasting change.
  • Hub: Understand and take action on key workplace wellbeing insights.
  • Modules: Interactive online content for your people to learn about wellbeing and be inspired to take action.
  • Wellbeing Campaigns: Expert advice, events, and inspiration delivered year-round and acting as an ‘always on’ wellbeing voice for your workplace.


To find out more about Embed, visit groovnow.com/product-tour.


The Move to Groov


While developing Embed, we realised something else also needed to change: our name. Mentemia, though well-loved by many, was a name that was difficult to pronounce, remember, and caused some confusion. What’s more, Embed was evolving to be about more than “my mind” (the meaning of Mentemia in Italian). We realised that workplace wellbeing is important at an organisational, leadership, and individual level – and we needed a name to reflect that.


After much brainstorming and testing, we settled on the name Groov. We felt this uplifting word captured who we are and what we strive for as an organisation. We help people find and stay in their Groov. We provide solutions, inspiration, and action-based learning that make people feel a little better and a little brighter. That’s us, that’s Groov.


The rebrand was a massive undertaking. As with any rebrand, there was risk involved, unforeseen complications, and a huge team effort to get it across the line. But, we knew we were doing the right thing by our customers and our people – and that gave us the momentum we needed to hold steady and follow through.


To read more about our move to Groov, visit www.groovnow.com/blog/move-to-groov


Our Top 5 Key Learnings So Far


It’s been a big four years. We’ve relaunched our product suite, rebranded, expanded into Australia and have further plans to enter new markets. As an organisation, we have a strong growth mindset and we’re committed to being world class. We understand that change is inevitable if you want to improve and grow.


But, that’s not to say the past few years have been without their challenges. Here are some key learnings and insights we’ve gleaned from the process.


  1. Collaborate with your foundation customers. And be prepared to iterate again, again, and again! The world of workplace mental wellbeing is changing rapidly and your customers offer incredible insights about what’s happening on the ground.
  2. Listen to the people using your product. And strive to surprise and delight them as much as possible.
  3. Test, test, test! We don’t build anything without first doing extensive research and planning, and we don’t release anything without internal and external testing.
  4. Celebrate wins. Celebrate is one of our core values at Groov – and it’s also one of our 6 Pillars of Wellbeing. We take time to reflect on our achievements and celebrate our wins at organisational, team, and individual levels.


  5. Follow the evidence. The digital mental health tools market is exploding with new tools and ideas. We’re proud to have a world class, diverse clinical team and clinical advisory group who ensure everything we do is evidence based and clinically sound.

Grooving Into the Future


Our mission feels more important than ever: to help 100 million people with their mental wellbeing and save 100,000 lives. We know we’ll achieve this by:

  • Making wellbeing the normal way of working in organisations around the world.
  • Continue to surprise and delight our customers as we develop our product further and add new features and improvements across the product suite.
  • Grow our team of Groovers (we’re hiring!) and keep delivering world-class products and customer service to our amazing customers.


We will be entering new markets outside of Australia and New Zealand in 2023. If Groov sounds of interest, make sure to get in touch at groovnow.com so we can keep you updated!