By Kristy Dorsey

The company behind a mental wellness platform developed in Scotland is gearing up for a multi-million pound fundraising as it embarks on a journey to become what its chief executive describes as the “YouTube of hope”.

Glasgow-based Frog Systems, headed by chief executive Phil Worms, is looking to raise “no less than” £5 million next year following this past January’s commercial launch of the service driven by its Ashia software. Backed to date with £2m of financing from Capita Group founder Sir Rod Aldridge, Scottish business veteran Nick Kuenssberg and several other private investors, Frog Systems aims to provide a “holistic overview” of people’s day-to-day challenges in an easily accessible video-driven format.

“We recognise that the majority of solutions that are out there – be they applications that you download on to your phone, or the sort of health care-type provisions provided by employers – are very much focused on the end game,” Mr Worms said. “They are aimed at people that are suffering from stress, or depression, or anxiety, or any number of health-related issues.

“We are trying to provide a service which steps back four places to say we understand as human beings that our general wellness is affected by many things – the environment, our economic resilience, whether we have got jobs, whether we can pay our bills – all of these types of issues.

READ MORE: Kuenssberg company Frog Systems raises more than £500,000

“So our product is very much aimed at…recognising that we are not alone, that there is help and there is support available to us, and that if we were to act now, then hopefully we won’t find ourselves in the position of requiring medical treatment, or having to turn to alcohol or drugs or anything else to ease the pain of things we are suffering from which in many, many cases can be treated.”

Employing 23 people, Frog Systems designs each platform to meet the specific needs of clients from the corporate, education, sporting and housing sectors, as well as membership organisations. The service is free to access for end-users, who are presented with short video clips of real people talking about the challenges they have faced, and how they overcame them.

Within the same frame, users are also directed to local organisations providing support in their area of concern, be that addiction, depression, financial advice, access to skills training, or gender and diversity issues.

The company currently has 16 clients, the latest being Leicester’s four professional sports clubs – Leicester City FC, Leicester Tigers, Leicestershire County Cricket Club and Leicester Riders – who launched their hub last week to mark World Mental Health Day. It features videos from current and former players, staff members and volunteers sharing their experiences of depression, alcoholism and racism.

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Mr Worms says video is the critical element, and is what sets Frog Systems apart from others in the market.

“Ninety percent of all internet traffic at the moment is video-driven, and yet if you think of the majority of information sites – the NHS, the government sites – they still rely on text, so we have actually got a ridiculous scenario where consumers are demanding their information in video content, and yet we are providing it to them in PDFs and text to download on mobile phones,” he said.

“So we are leading with video stories so you can hear from people, you can get the resources, and importantly, at the back end of the system, our clients get the ability to log in and see what is happening on their platforms, so they are getting a real-time indication of what their users are concerned about.”

Frog Systems was created in 2015 to develop a concept that grew out of Sir Rod’s education and regeneration charity the Aldridge Foundation, which he set up after retiring as chairman of Capita in 2006. He was later joined by Mr Kuenssberg, who serves as chairman of Frog Systems.

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Mr Worms joined the business three years ago, having known Mr Kuenssberg for many years dating back to when the latter was chairman of cloud computing firm iomart.

Trained as a hotel caterer, Mr Worms joined BT in 1984 when it was opening its revolving restaurant in London’s BT Tower. From there he worked his way into marketing for the telecoms group before moving to Scotland 22 years ago to join iomart when it was in the early days of rolling out broadband.

“If I have any claim to fame, it’s that I sold the first-ever consumer broadband connection in the United Kingdom,” he jokes. That was on behalf of iomart in 2002, when broadband was known as “asymmetric digital subscriber lines” and cost £150 per month for 126K connection.

Mr Worms spent 15 years with iomart, finishing as chief marketing officer before then going into private charity work. He also set up the Digital Xtra fund on behalf of ScotlandIS, a project that was coming to a close when he started talking to Mr Kuenssberg about Frog Systems.

“Our vision is to become the YouTube of hope – the curated video channel of safe content with all of the content relating to health and wellbeing,” Mr Worms said. “I genuinely believe that we are at the forefront of the wellness market in lived experiences.”


What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

As a born and bred Londoner, I have always loved the energy, culture and diversity of cities. Glasgow, Boston, New York, Sydney and Rome have provided me with some of my happiest memories and experiences. That stated, for sheer beauty, spirituality, and tranquillity there is no place on earth like the Inner Hebrides.

When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

A forester. From an early age my parents gave me an appreciation of the beauty of nature and the need to nurture and manage our natural resources.

What was your biggest break in business?

At the age of 23 I was given the responsibility for running all the catering and special events at BT’s flagship London headquarters and the BT Tower.

What was your worst moment in business?

In 1996, I started an award-winning online gift basket business, one of the UK’s first e-commerce sites. It really took off, given the infancy of the internet, but I didn’t have the nerve to put my house up for collateral to raise the funds to accelerate its growth. I sold it to a competing business for buttons.

Who do you most admire and why?

Sir Alex Ferguson – and I’m a lifelong Chelsea fan! He’s a winner. His football management record on both sides of the border will never be equalled. Our business is headquartered in Govan, and whilst the shipyards of Sir Alex’s youth are long gone, the area is currently undergoing an ambitious multi-million transformation and we’re proud to call it home.

What book are you reading and what music are you listening to?

I’m a sucker for page-turning crime thrillers so currently I’m enjoying To Kill a Man by Sam Bourne. On the headphones it’s Celeste’s Not Your Muse which fuses neo-soul with poetic lyrics, and ensures she’s delivered on her one to watch tag.