Kevin Kwong

Co-founder of Heyr


As a Hong Kong immigrant, I experienced firsthand the frustration of seeking mental health support in the UK. Marginalised groups bear a disproportionate brunt of mental health burden due to socio-economic deprivation, structural inequality and racism, leading to higher risks of depression, anxiety, trauma and suicidal behaviour. I am committed to creating comprehensive and culturally sensitive mental health technologies that address the unique needs of diverse communities.

In 2021, I co-founded Heyr, a therapy-based app designed to help young people build mental fitness and raise awareness of multicultural mental health. Our mission is to shift the societal focus to preventative self-driven healthcare, and in turn address the mental health inequality in the UK and beyond.

I am currently leading an award winning team of mental health researchers, engineers and clinical experts with a collective experience of 60+ years in health and tech. I have 7+ years of digital health experience, working in startups to scale products and teams in the UK, Sweden and Hong Kong. I earned my biomedical science degrees from Imperial College London (BSc) and UCL (MSc).

Heyr’s distinctive position offers long-lasting and meaningful impact through collaborative efforts in research, advocacy, and community building. We have launched our beta programmes in the UK, EU and Africa over the past year, with 1500+ young people trialed the app so far. We have secured a research partnership with Imperial College London to further understand the intersection of youth mental health and data/gamification. In east Africa, we completed a pilot in Tanzania, endorsed by the Africa Academy of Public Health, with ongoing talks on a scaleup programme in 2024, targeting 1k local students. Backed by Z Zurich Foundation, we are also launching a new digital programme in Zimbabwe in Q2 2024, with the aim to build pathways of resilience for young people.

Some of the key barriers as a minority founder include:

  • Lack of pitching opportunities for diverse founders
  • Disparities in access to “family and friends” capital as immigrants
  • Limited representation and access to mentors, partnerships and business development, can feel isolated at times
  • Unconscious biases in fundraising process, lack of ethnic decision makers at VCs
  • Market bias – we are the only black and asian founder led mental health startup in the UK
  • Policy and Regulatory Challenges, navigating these challenges can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

With the support of the Leap programme, my goals for the rest of the year is to engage deeper with diverse innovators, policy makers and global young leaders, ensuring that we bridge the gap between governments and young people when it comes to mental health policies, research and education. I have previously participated in other minority founder focus programmes and accelerators and have built meaningful connections with investors, founders and mentors.