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DEI Month: Meet Vortle

For DEI Month at Startup Grind, we are actively featuring startups innovating and highlighting diverse, equitable, and inclusive spaces. During this 31 day initiative, we will be hosting our annual DEI Summit, to provide all startups in our ecosystem the opportunity to better understand DEI and its importance.

Approximately 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. More specifically, anxiety disorders are the highest reported mental health issue in the United States, with 42.5 million Americans suffering from this epidemic. Such staggering numbers make it clear that the vast majority, if not all people, must know someone that has been impacted by these illnesses.

Acknowledging the severity of this crisis may be the first step to resolution; however, there has to be more that we, as a society, can be doing to support those that are struggling. Vortle is a state of the art program designed to provide a safe space for those suffering from anxiety. In collaboration with psychologists and mental health professionals, this online sanctuary is creating a new approach for treatment. We were lucky enough to touch base with Stanislav Kirdey, Vortle’s founder, to discuss the platform and all it has to offer.

Anxiety is clearly a surging issue, with lasting impacts on a monumental scale. What do you wish people, on a global scale, were more aware of when it comes to folks with disabilities?

Stanislav: Most disabilities are invisible, around 15% of the world has one. Almost every single person on earth will end up experiencing a disability at some point. With age comes more disabilities, and it’s such an underserved group when it comes to technology development. It’s shaded with shame, but if we hide certain aspects of ourselves, how can we discuss them?

“How can we innovate and change this narrative if we don’t talk about it? Let’s get that conversation started.” -Stanislav Kirdey, Vortle

Attempting to tackle an entire mental illness seems impossible, but as a collective, there must be something we can do to work through this. What else can we be doing?

Stanislav: As with any problem, it’s tough to solve if we cannot measure it. There’s a startup in Switzerland attempting to measure mental health, but there’s no real metric. With any statistic, about 10% of the company will report being disabled, but people are “in the closet” about their reality. Disability is still not being represented, because people may not feel safe sharing. The majority of folks would choose to hide that, but that’s not helpful in reform. It needs to come from the non-disabled community- accepting and encouraging the conversations. It also needs to come from the company in measuring, reporting, and providing a safe space. There’s still so little for those with disabilities, despite it being such a big community, yet they aren’t being considered the same way.

Image courtesy of Vortle platform

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of startups and businesses in general is ever changing. How have you been able to successfully maintain a business during such turbulence?

Stanislav: I’m in a more or less privileged position, I work full time and I’m a part time founder. I made enough money to support my startup, and I “bootstrapped.” I also have been surrounded by people willing to provide financial support, mentorship and more. There’s a big group that wants to create a platform for disability support, for mental health, and so on. We simply need to harness it, find those willing to contribute. People are donating their sounds, music, graphics, all to help us grow. The intentions of people are so often selfless, but it will take a whole community to succeed.

Growth is the name of the game, success just so happens to coincide with that. Where do you see yourself and your company going in this next life chapter?

Stanislav: It’s tough to determine, we are currently engaging with our community to gather feedback. We have working sessions with the autistic community and elderly care facilities on gathering feedback from a neurodiverse community. Hearing from them is ultimately helping us to establish partnerships with these facilities where folks are playing games and may experience anxiety. We want this to be an amazing experience to learn from them and their expectations of technology. Building a ramp instead of stairs if you will; wheelchairs can use it, kids can use it, anyone can use it. Inclusive technology can serve a broader audience.

Image courtesy of Vortle platform

With so much information circulating around mental health, it’s hard to know where to begin in regards to support. Vortle’s platform is designed to help alleviate some of that stress, targeting anxiety and depression. This app is working to provide a virtual sacred space, with the goal of lifting some of the burdens of anxious thoughts. For more information about Vortle and their mission, head to their website.

Did you enjoy this article? Get excited! There are more to come. For DEI Month, we will be posting informative articles highlighting startups working toward a more equitable and inclusive society. Don’t forget to join our DEI Summit, RSVP now!




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