Acceset Boosts Mental Health Platform with AWS Activate Console
Mr Matt Oon is the CEO of Acceset, a digital mental health platform that focuses on improving the well-being of youth through anonymous text-based emotion support. It also uses research to both understand and educate youth on mental health care.
Acceset is also part of SGTech’s start-up ecosystem, and recently benefited from receiving the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate Portfolio, which grants up to $10,000 USD complimentary credits for AWS Cloud, and $1,500 USD credits for AWS Support. SGTech is one of the official AWS Activate Providers for this programme.
We interviewed Mr Oon to learn more about how this has helped him in growing Acceset.
What was your inspiration to start Acceset?
Mr Oon: Taking on an entrepreneurial lens, I think there was a problem to be solved, and it didn’t feel very theoretical. It’s a real problem. I’ve seen it with my own eyes because my Mom has a mental health condition, and it was difficult for her to rejoin the workforce.
When I was a university student, I felt a strong need to search for meaning, and looking at what was available in the landscape for mental health – I believed there was a space and a better way to connect people, and I decided to make an accessible and impactful platform to help people.
How does your passion for vintage items influence the creation of Acceset?
Mr Oon: One of the reasons I bought my resale flat was because of the 80s era tiles, and I find that things that are a little rough around the edges also have bits of history and character.
So, when I explain to people what I’m doing, I describe it as a sort of online ‘pen pal’ letter writing service – which I found resonated with many people, even though that activity has gone out of favour. We spoke to young people and ironically they thought it was a new idea!
Why are we paying more attention to mental health now?
Mr Oon: I think with the pandemic, mental health became less abstract and a lot more relatable.
If we break this into its simplest form, it is about the balance of positive and negative experiences. So, when a person faces challenges and negative experiences, can I do something to add a positive experience to balance it out?
Thinking in terms of these dimensions allowed me to conceive a product, or a platform where I can add these experiences to a user’s life better, and faster.
The other thing is about digital empathy, which is the ability to relate to another human being through text – considering that on digital platforms we miss nonverbal cues like body language, things that are part of communication.
In this sense, the students are well trained to provide support to other students, which gives users the confidence to disclose some of the events in their lives. We get deeper, more authentic conversations, and the data shows that it demonstrates an improved sentiment.
Speaking of data, what role does the collection and analysis of data play in Acceset?
Mr Oon: It tells you whether you are solving the problem. To me it serves as a function of accountability, for me to see what value I’ve created. So yeah, the data does not lie.
It’s complicated for us to quantify our data points when it comes to mental health.
For example, a common method in the industry is to measure a before and after of the client’s state, but it’s possible that their ‘high point’ happened in the middle of the conversation. It’s also less likely for the client to still remain in that frame of mind towards the end of a session.
Thus, we need to take a step back and consider if we can still add value to people’s lives even if we can’t fully measure that value.
Why did you look to partner with AWS?
Mr Oon: I may have good problem solving skills, and I may be able to communicate and form new ideas, but there’s a lot of things I don’t know.
So while my software team has a good understanding of our infrastructure, it’s still quite difficult because we have to pick the right provider for key services like our cloud.
For an early stage company, Amazon’s low fees meant that money that would have otherwise been spent could be reallocated to other priorities. So while Amazon is not selling my business for me, they’re giving us a helping hand.
How has signing up for AWS Activate Portfolio impacted your work?
Mr Oon: I learned about the AWS Activate Portfolio from a SGTech newsletter and signed up. With these credits, I’m able to think in terms of abundance rather than scarcity.
I told my team to upgrade our servers, because it's important that the system doesn’t crash or hang if our project takes off and creates traction. I’m not risking that on a cheaper server. It means a lot to me that I can get better infrastructure to meet our business needs without worrying about whether I can repay or afford it.
I’ve always been an Amazon supporter when it comes to their cloud services, and there’s also the assurance that their security is top notch. It was quite easy to reassure my clients, who above all worry about their confidentiality, that their data is secure because of Amazon. I can even get a penetration test report if they are really concerned about their data security.
What advice do you have for other companies that are interested in the AWS Activate Portfolio?
Mr Oon: Businesses that may get the most value are those that need wide bandwidth, and a range of cloud digital infrastructure.
The financial benefits are obvious, but the other part is psychological. It’s one less thing to worry about in your balance sheet, and at an early stage this can allow your idea to survive beyond the incubation stage and actually make it.
Consider using the saved opportunity cost to pay for some services, try out experiments, or even just create a safety buffer in your company accounts.
AWS Activate Portfolio Available for eligible SGTech startups
SGTech startups that meet AWS Activate Portfolio eligibility criteria can receive $10,000 USD credits in AWS Cloud + $1,500 USD Credits for AWS Support. You will be able to access a host of free benefits, including AWS Cloud credits, AWS Business Support credits, exclusive members-only offers, and access to the Activate Console, to help build and grow your business.
Register your interest for the AWS Activate Portfolio.
Published Aug 2022