One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, says the World Health Organization. Still, we spend more time brushing our teeth than taking care of our mental health, said Guy Winch in his TED talk.
We tend to neglect our mental well-being because of the stigma of mental health care. But as societies become wiser and more self-aware, there is a greater need to redefine the meaning of mental health care. Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey do exactly that by drawing attention to the aspect of preventing mental health issues. The application they built makes mental self-care easy and accessible.
Marah and Naomi met together at work, in a non-profit organization, and they soon became friends. When they faced a stressful situation at work, they talked to each other. They quickly noticed that not everyone was so lucky to have that kind of support. Also, they were surprised that well-being companies didn’t speak to them or didn’t resonate with them. Seeing that, they thought there was a niche on the market and decided to create Shine, a self-care app that lets users practice gratitude and "check-in" for the day to deal with stress.
At first, Shine was a simple chat app with daily affirmations. It was a messaging bot for positive reinforcement on a daily basis. Messages were delivered as texts or via Facebook’s Messenger. They acted as a friend in your pocket, whom you can always text. At first, the main focus was to provide well-being-related content to the users, then to create a deeper and more personal-feeling experience through audio. Now, the app offers features such as podcasts, meditations, in-app articles, empowering text messages, and chat. The app’s content helps people enhance their confidence, productivity, mental health, and happiness by building a healthy routine for the mind.
Shine's mission is to build a more compassionate world.
The app’s users can make use of daily motivations, personal growth goals, and articles. The app also offers podcasts: meditations, challenges, sleep, and daily rituals. “Quiet the mind”, “Calming Work Stress”, “Gratitude”, “Embracing Change” are but a few multi-day challenges that can help users take care of themselves. The audio content is created by Shine experts and psychologists. Celebrities, for instance Karamo Brown or MILCK, also support Shine in their mindfulness campaign.
Shine wanted to have a development partner who truly understands their goals and shares the same business values, so the culture-first approach was a very important factor of our cooperation. Another important one was Netguru’s high communication skills which have allowed us to evolve the way we work together. At first, Netguru’s role was restricted to mobile app development in React Native. As time went by, we became a trusted partner who helped to shape Shine’s product strategy.
Currently, we're integrated with the Shine engineering team to help maintain and develop the iOS and Android apps and support their growth. The scope of our cooperation with Shine includes UI/UX design, software development, product strategy, and marketing consulting. All the work is done in sprints following the Agile methodology. Each sprint we book time to work on new ideas and tactics. On those days we experiment, prototype, test, and create new ideas to provide the best possible value for the users.
We also support overcoming challenges - last year we helped to prioritize and deliver features to meet a tight deadline before Black Friday. This year we helped to upgrade the React Native app’s core to improve its performance.
I've really appreciated the flexibility and breadth of experience we've been able to tap from the Netguru team. While most of our work together has been in React Native, at times when needed we've also very easily gotten support in QA, design, UX, iOS and Android as well.
Throughout the project the team included various Netguru specialists like an Illustrator, a Product Designer, a Back-end Developer and a Marketing Specialist. The core Netguru team consists of two React Native Developers, a Quality Assurance Specialist, and a Project Manager working with Shine's engineering team and UX designer.
The main principle of our cooperation is trust. There's also plenty of space for experimentation: we change, pivot product strategy, and adjust it to market needs dynamically. Development is based on metrics, and our workflow is firmly embedded in the Agile methodology.
The time difference between the Polish and the US teams is six hours, so we had to adjust our daily schedules. Additionally, a lot of people were involved in the project, so it was difficult to discuss all the tasks together. We needed to adjust the communication flow between both teams: the mobile team from Netguru and the in-house backend team from Shine. What was initially a long discussion, with time transformed into two separate meetings. This arrangement let us work more efficiently.
Our teams also had to deal with technological aspects, to name a few:
Netguru's experience in React Native and mobile apps helped to provide guidance regarding all of the above subjects.
The Shine app has been recognized by users and organizations. The app has: