Posted on November 1, 2017 by staff

Life with mental illness: Carl Martin


Today we put mental health under the spotlight with a series of interviews with tech entrepreneurs as they open up about their experiences.

To the outside world Carl Martin is happy, successful and thriving.

His tech start-up The Wurqs drives people towards spending more time together offline by challenging the way products are designed. In August this year he went on BBC Radio to talk about the loneliness of starting a tech company.

“I’ve been open about my struggle with anxiety since 2013,” he says.

“I always thought I was just a bit of a worrier, but after convincing myself I had a serious illness, when I almost certainly didn’t, I realised just quite how powerful – and misleading – the mind is.

“I’ve had anxiety as a founder from day one. When you are making decisions that fundamentally impact not just your own success, reputation and happiness, but of the people that you work with too, it’s a huge weight on your shoulders.

“The loneliness of entrepreneurship is what gets to me the most – especially as a solo founder.

“I’m constantly thinking about or worrying about perception – to investors or potential hires.

“Remembering that perspective is a choice is vital, whatever your career. I remind myself every day that no company is more important than my health.

“The company I am building hopes to use technology as a force for good.

“We are hoping to challenge the current state of product design by creating products that are valuable only when they need to be valuable, and in turn drive more people towards spending more time together offline.

“Technology has done so much positively for the world so far – I just think we need to reframe its role in society in order for it to continue that.

“I use meditation applications such as Calm, and journaling applications like Moodnotes to manage my mental wellbeing, but honestly the two best things I’ve found are working out and having open conversations with people at every opportunity.

“The response to my opening up has been incredible. No matter how much you remind yourself that you’re not alone, experiences like these really give you a boost.

“People I don’t know and have never met reaching out and offering support. We really are all just human.

“However after the interview I gave, someone passed a comment – without malice – that founders sometimes think they are special.

“Now something I was immensely proud of suddenly made me question whether I was being perceived from that interview as someone who thought they were special.

“No one but myself is placing these expectations on my head. This may be an immense pressure but it’s also the absolute heart and soul of my drive behind building this thing.

“It is both my energy and my weakness. I cannot describe how confusing that feels.Companies need to make open dialogue a part of their culture.

“Leaders have a chance to set a precedent and define attitudes towards mental health.

“I’d love to see more companies working with Sanctus for example – a start-up that’s taking techniques of coaching and conversation into businesses in order to create environments where people feel they can be themselves and be up front about mental health.”