Unlockd co-founder, Matt Berriman

The fast-growing start-up tackling stress through mindfulness

Larissa Ham

When you’re a fast-growth start-up such as Unlockd – pushing into three major markets around the world – it can be an exciting, but high-pressured ride.

The aptly named business, which launched in Australia last October, partners with telcos to offer consumers discounted phone bills or free data in exchange for viewing an ad when they unlock their phone. A simple but effective concept that has seen the business hit a series of milestones in quick succession.

In January, Unlockd struck a deal in the US with Boost Mobile. Then, ahead of its UK launch, closed a $15 million funding round with backers including Lachlan Murdoch.

Of course, rapid growth is what any business leader strives for, but CEO and co-founder, Matt Berriman, hasn’t been blind to the potential stresses for the start-up’s powerhouse of 33 staff.

“Running and growing global businesses are challenging, but doing them at 100 miles per hour always creates additional challenges including work life balance, pressure on outcomes being delivered and potentially things falling between the cracks,” says the 32-year-old.

To prevent staff burnout, Unlockd has partnered with not-for-profit organisation, Smiling Mind, best known for its mindfulness meditation app that’s been downloaded more than one million times.

Smiling Mind has recently begun delivering face-to-face programs in Unlockd’s Melbourne offices, with plans to roll them out to the company’s UK and US offices.

Berriman says Unlockd decided to partner with the not-for-profit to help staff cope better with stressful situations, and professional and personal challenges.

He says meditation promotes self-awareness and empathy, which are important skills for management and leadership, especially in a fast-growth environment.

Smiling Mind co-founder, Jane Martino, is no stranger to fast-growth companies herself. She knows the demands that staff can face. “It’s extremely high-pressure. Things are changing all the time, which can be very stressful,” Martino said.

She says meditation can help anyone “roll with the punches”– and especially those in a start-up.

“At the heart of it, what they [staff] are doing is teaching their brain to be more in the present moment and focusing their attention on one thing at a time, which naturally increases work productivity and efficiency in terms of output.”

Needless to say – Unlockd has no plans to slow down any time soon. Within 12 months, the company expects to have reached up to 20 million Android users, with plans to be in five international markets by the end of this year.

Larissa Ham

Larissa Ham is a Melbourne-based freelancer. She write for publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Daily and Forge magazine, and also shares money saving tips at Hey, Little Spender!