Luca Newsletter #4
2022 wrap 🎉
We hope you all had lovely Christmases and managed to steer clear of the flu and illness that seems to be everywhere at the moment. I’ve always enjoyed the week between Christmas and New Year as I’ve luckily never been in a job that’s required me to work it, but this year an itch is developing to get back on the horse after a bit of much needed downtime. Vas and I were running on fumes by mid-late December. 2022 was a big year.
Still being very early in the startup journey, it’s so easy to constantly move onto the next thing and never take a step back and reflect on what’s happened, both the good and the bad. The Christmas period is the ideal time to take the foot off the accelerator, to shut the laptop and to disconnect a bit. Intentionality is everything, it’s so important to take stock, to realise where you’re headed, to course correct if necessary, and to make a plan for the coming 12 months.
This time last year I decided to write a 2021 reflection and to set goals for 2022. Including just now, I’ve probably only reread it 2 or 3 times in the past year, but it’s fascinating to revisit where I was mentally just 12 months ago. I finished my MBA in the Sept and spent the autumn applying for VC and startup jobs. The main theme of the reflection was the realisation that I needed to be working on my own thing in order to feel fulfilled and fired up on a daily basis. As a result, I’m truly grateful to have met Vas on the Antler incubator - somebody I trust and respect absolutely - to be working on a real problem, with real consequences, and to have made the progress we have since beginning to work on Luca in earnest in June. We’ve built the first version of the app, our screening tool, we’re 2+ months into screening 7 pilot partners (more on that in a minute), we have real momentum on the fundraising front and we’re now looking likely to be onboarding our first paying partners before the end of January.
Things are only going to get busier and probably more stressful in 2023, but there’s nothing we’d rather be spending our time on. Bring it.
We’re now two plus months into our pilots with British Skeleton, Oxford University Rugby Club and Cambridge University Rugby & Boat Clubs.
We’re working with the men’s & women’s teams of each of the clubs. 183 athletes from across the teams have downloaded the Luca app from the Apple App or Google Play stores, and have created an account. We’ve been conducting bi-weekly screenings up until the end of w/c 12th Dec. There’s been a short break over Christmas, but normal screening cadence has now resumed and the pilots will conclude at the end of March 2023.
As you can see, 19 screenings have been completed across the 7 teams and the weighted average engagement is 64.3%. There have been 157 amber flags and 10 red alerts. Two pieces of feedback have been provided for the teams and there has been one self-referral, for a suspected case of bulimia.
We’ve been deeply concerned by the number of flags that have been generated. We’ve realised the methodology we’re using is potentially a little too sensitive, which explains the very high number of amber flags (worrisome responses to one or more of the Anxiety, Depression, Sleep, Disordered Eating and Alcohol & Substance abuse screens). However, 10 red flags (threat to life or self-harm) is extremely concerning and supports the hypothesis behind Luca:
that athletes are really struggling out there and are largely struggling in silence.
Even though we’re only just getting started, we’re pleased to have created a tool that athletes feel confident enough to check in on and report honestly, and then receive help in a frictionless manner. For the vast majority of the red flags, the teams had no prior awareness or understanding that these people were struggling, let alone considering suicide or self-harm. They are now receiving support and that’s exactly why Luca exists. Red flags are our north star metric and to have 10 of them from just 19 screenings is a sign that we’re working on something important and have a process that works.
A company is really nothing but a few legal docs, a handful of software bills and people. The people being our partners and the athletes we support, but also you; friends, family and a growing number of complete strangers 🙂 - all united by a shared interest in what we’re doing and a problem that’s so devastating to so many. We never take any interest in Luca for granted, so thank you for finding the time to read our updates, for reaching out with athletes and investors that you know and your general words of encouragement! We’re sorry that we’re not always super responsive, but please don’t take our slow follow ups as a sign that we’re not hugely appreciative of your messages (pls do keep them coming!). Thanks also to our first Human too participants; Sam Smith, Ashleigh Spiliopoulou, Constantine Louloudis & Laura Siddall. You guys are legends for finding time in your busy schedules to share your stories in such a candid and vulnerable way. Human too is back from Thursday, so do sign up below if you haven’t already. 👇
With that, enjoy the last of the downtime, if it’s not already over, have a great New Year’s eve and here’s to a happy, healthy and fun filled 2023! Final words are from L.P. Jacks that I came across in the Patagonia Founder’s brilliant book, ‘Let My People Go Surfing’. Read the book this year, and let’s all try and achieve more of the below from tomorrow! 👊.
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play. His labour and his leisure. His mind and his body. His education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which, he simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both. L.P. Jacks
Nick & Vas