We’re looking back at 2021 and wrapping up a year of slow but meaningful efforts.
I don’t want to pretend that 2021 has been wild and exhilarating for It’s Complicated. Our teeny team has probably mirrored the societal emotions of this year: Some languishing, a fair amount of self-doubt, quite a lot of typical seasonal illness amongst us, episodes of futile efforts, and some downright mistakes have characterised this past year.
But so have glimpses of deep belief that we’re making a difference in people’s lives, and the implementation of positive changes to the therapy platform and community of counsellor.
Before I give a brief status of this past year, I want to introduce the team. This, I hope, will give some context to our project that was started just before Corona.
Our team consists of five people engaged in It’s Complicated in different ways. Jakob is a Jungian psychoanalyst and product developer, Christoph is the project manager and software engineer, Jewe is the lead developer, and Ana, besides being a psychologist and psychoanalyst-in-training, is the therapy consultant and community coordinator of the platform. And then there’s me, Johanne, also a psychologist, doing content and community work.
Most people think that a company that makes any kind of profit has staff and is attempting constant growth on the premises of grind culture and standard capitalism. But what makes our ride with It’s Complicated special, and sometimes a bit slow and bumpy, is that we created the platform first and foremost for ourselves. Jakob and I, so that we could have sessions and do our billing through one safe and secure place, Christoph and Jewe, so they could have a product that they didn’t just built, but conceptualised from scratch, and Ana, so she could grow even further as the business-savvy psychologist she is.
As with most so-called lifestyle businesses, who don’t have funding (and so don’t have any investor expectations to meet) the income is limited, and doesn’t cover much more than the cost of the online advertisement (needed to balance supply-and-demand of our two-sided marketplace). This in turn means that most of us also need to tend to our money jobs to pay the bills, while tending to our growing families and hobbies (amongst us we have six kids, two dogs, and too many interests to be able to count).
I don’t say all of this to make an excuse for our platform sometimes being humanly fallible. I say it because I want to put emphasis on how proud I am that we have something that has been birthed into existence in a most natural way. And not only that, but we seem to have managed bringing up a fully capable kid – not even just a toddler — functioning in the world and all. Argh, okay, enough with the parenting analogy! I just mean that one of the things I love most about It’s Complicated is that we are evidence that a company can thrive without the people behind having a business degree, without playing the VC game, without having outside money injections of any sorts, etc. We just had a sustainable, simple idea that was created with our shared, sometimes very focused, sometimes very slow and chill efforts. This is what It’s Complicated is: An idea, five part-time workers and a community telling us what we do well and what we need to do better.
Now that you have a bit of background on It’s Complicated and its people, let me tell you what we’ve been up to this past year:
- We developed a ‘For companies’ program, so that companies can take the mental health of their workplace seriously.
- An invoicing system was released, meaning that therapy-seekers can easily secure a session, and counsellors can reduce time spent on manual billing.
- A refer-a-colleague program was put into place, so that there’s a pay-off when counsellors recommend the platform.
- The platform was translated into German. The idea of It’s Complicated might be international at heart, but since we’re based in Berlin, we thought it was about time to also cater to the German-speakers.
- We improved our referral system, meaning that we’ve now attempted distributing client leads to our counsellors in a more even and fair way.
- And then of course, there have been periods of down-time, debugging, site maintenance, answering support emails from frustrated users, and periods of wondering whether our efforts are worth it — to our community and to us.
For now, the answer is a clear yes, and we’re hoping that 2022 will make that feeling even stronger.