Campus - 04.10.2023 - 08:52 

HSG graduate launches app for ADHD sufferers

ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, but at the same time support and therapy places for those affected are scarce. HSG graduate Diego Gladig and ETHZ graduate Benno Staub have launched the Gossik app to fill this gap. 

They are aiming to help young people who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): This is the aim of HSG graduate Diego Gladig (30, right in the top picture) and ETHZ graduate Benno Staub (29) with their app "Gossik". The two St.Gallen natives originally founded their startup of the same name with the idea of developing a digital planning assistant for people "with busy days", as Gossik CEO Staub explains. "We then received feedback from many users saying that the app was perfect for them in particular because they had ADHD." After market analyses and discussions with experts, the two St.Galleners made the decision in 2022 to focus their app entirely on 10 to 20-year-old ADHD sufferers. 

Stretched resources for those affected

Depending on the source, ADHD affects between five and ten percent of all children and adolescents, making it one of the most common psychiatric disorders. "We assume that there are around 100,000 young people affected in Switzerland," says Gladig. The problem is that care and coaching services for ADHD sufferers are scarce. "Therapy offerings currently have waiting periods of six months to one year," says Gladig. The Federal Council also wrote in May 2023 in its response to a motion from the National Council: "The psychiatric-psychotherapeutic care situation for children and adolescents is stretched in many cantons". 

Since a child with ADHD often keeps the whole family very busy, fast help is crucial for those affected, says Gladig. "That's where we can step in. Our app is complemented by a weekly 20-minute coaching session conducted by a certified ADHD expert. Because the app provides automated support and the weekly coaching takes place digitally, we are very time-efficient and are therefore able to offer a high number of places."

Today, around 50 young people and some of their parents use the app. In addition to coaching and planning through the app, the ADHD expert provides information and specialized contact addresses on the topic of ADHD if needed. Gossik also works with agencies such as the cantonal child and adolescent psychiatric services (KJPD), which can forward enquiries from families to the start-up. In addition, the startup is building an ADHD community: It connects families and children in discussion groups on social media such as Facebook or Discord. 

Taking users "by the hand"

"Unlike many productivity apps that require users to plan and prioritize on their own, we want to take the app users by the hand, so to speak," says Staub. This is particularly important for ADHD sufferers who have difficulty concentrating or motivating themselves. For example, the app proactively creates a schedule, suggests tasks and supports the setting of deadlines. It also asks how the user is feeling and recommends tasks or motivational suggestions based on this. "The app is actually a digital coach that accompanies the young people during the day and also gives them tips on how to divide up their tasks," Staub says.

HSG as an entrepreneurial networking location

Gossik developed amid the St.Gallen start-up scene: In 2020, it was granted a funding package from the Startfeld initiative – in which the HSG is also involved. Currently, Fortyone, an investment group from eastern Switzerland that holds stakes in various tech start-ups, is one of the backers of Gossik, which currently has five employees. "We see the potential to expand our offering to the entire DACH region," says Gladig. The lack of therapeutic services for children and adolescents, he explains, is a problem beyond Switzerland. 
Gossik's work is attracting attention across the country: The team made it to 90th place in the "Top 100 Swiss Startups Awards" presented at the beginning of September 2023. The award is presented by a jury of 100 investors and start-up experts.

Gladig completed a bachelor's degree in economics at the HSG in 2017. "The topic of start-ups was not so present at that time. Nevertheless, I was able to benefit from the network I built up at the HSG – for example, in arranging contacts with investors or general questions." For example, Gladig helped organize the St.Gallen Symposium as the person responsible for IT. "I met various fellow students there who later founded start-ups." 

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