Improving Founders Mental Health with Janos Barberis of SuperCharger Ventures and Founders Taboo

In this episode, we talk to Janos Barberis about his journey as a founder on SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator which focused on B2B FinTech companies expanding in the region. However, later on due to the prevalence of mental health issues in founders, Janos started Founders Taboo to try to solve this issue. In Founders Taboo they are building the worlds largest online course & community on the topic. Tune in to listen to Janos's thoughts on the stress of a founder and how founders should deal with mental health issues.

Episode Transcript

Victor 0:08

Mental health is a really difficult issue for startup founders. The stress, the uncertainty, the loneliness, it's not often talked about and it's considered very taboo. I'm excited today to speak with Janos Barberis, the founder of supercharger, edtech accelerator, and also the founder of founders taboo, an organisation that works with founders to give them an outlet and community to learn about mental health issues. Janos, welcome to the show.

Janos Barberis 0:39

Victor, happy to be happy to see you again, even though virtually. It's really a pleasure to have you here and looking forward to what's ahead of us today.

Victor 0:49

Yeah, thank you. And, you know, I've known you for a few years now, when supercharger was a FinTech accelerator in Asia. You know, just to start off with, I'd love to hear a little bit more about yourself and your journey with supercharger and how that's been going and where how that's ended. Go ahead.

Janos Barberis 0:51

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, like, like you were saying the way we got to meet each other was because of or over FinTech paths and experience. So I, about seven years ago, so I think in 2015, I decided to go to Asia. I was based in London, I was doing one of the first challenger banks, and I really generally believed about the FinTech opportunity in Asia, everyone was looking at Europe and the US. Very few people were looking east and I thought that Hong Kong is a financial centre, there is money. And let's build the world's biggest, what became the world's biggest FinTech accelerator. And it was an incredible journey. It was a fully bootstrapped company, we never took external money. I started with an overdraft at the Bank of 500 pound flew over. Hong Kong is an expensive city. So we had to generate cash flow very quickly. We generated cash flow by being a corporate sponsored accelerator. So Standard Chartered fidelity, Hong Kong change, Visa, etc, etc. We're paying us to both run a bit of a new innovation marketing element, but also to partner with startups. And that's how we, for example, got to meet with you guys. Because you were a b2b. FinTech and you were selling your solution into a financial institution and we're acting as the accelerator, the supercharger factor into that. The accelerator was an incredible experience as was, I guess, my first very successful company successful in terms of the impact that we've done successfully in terms of the value we've created for the founders and the sponsor, less successful commercially. In hindsight, we should have taken equity in a lot of the companies we worked with, but also less successful personally. The first version of supercharger either as a consequence as a correlation really put a lot of pressure on me as a human which eventually led me to get sick. It's more than a burnout that we're getting sick. And then we started the company at that stage and supercharger intake was no more. But you know, as people tend to say, companies have one life and intrapreneurs have seven. So, I decided to then recreate Supercharger, but this time around with two amazing co-founder, Tom ash and Alessandra SNAM, the co-founder of Supercharger ventures, we focus on education, online education, because we believe that the online education opportunity is as big as FinTech back in 2015. Today, and that's going very well. We have exactly the same ambition if we have not already. Past the milestones we've done back in FinTech. Today, we have 70 portfolio companies, whereas it took us four years to get 15 in FinTech. And one of the excitement and the energy I have as a new supercharger is I think I've got to learn myself way better as an entrepreneur, especially on how to manage my well being and my mental health. And that came because of the founders taboo, which is my own version of building a support network around me. But because I believe there's many more entrepreneurs that need help, and mental health support, we decided that what I would learn from me, we will make it available for the people by our company, which has the ambition to reach every single founder in the world and connect them with the right stakeholder for them to get better. And that's Thomas taboo, high level, but I'm sure we'll talk more about it.

Victor 4:53

Yeah, I really want to talk a lot about the founder's taboo because, you know, mental health for founders is a profound issue. You know, it's very lonely being a founder, but, you know, just to focus on a cell, supercharger edtech real quick, you know, I'd really love to learn from your perspective, what is the opportunity in education technology today, not just on the business side as a fund manager, but it for humans around the world?

Janos Barberis 5:26

For most people listening, you know, finance now has been so, shopping has been totally digitised, right? advertisement, totally digitised, movie, totally digitised finance, pretty strongly digitised tonight, but education and health is one of those two sectors which are still quite lagging behind in terms of tech adoption. So to give you a perspective, only 2% of education today is digital in the world. And to give you another perspective, about 10% of finance in the world today is digital 10 to 20, depending on how you look at it. So there's a huge growth and the amount of money being spent in education is in the trillions a year now. It's slow money, right? It's government schools, universities, corporate l&d, so it's not quick cash. But the trend, why it is, it's evident. And COVID-19 became a catalyst in that transformation. Because online education became a necessity, people had to move online in order to maintain knowledge. But I think that now that COVID is mostly gone in most of the world, people are going back offline. But I think they realise that online had benefits, it had benefits, of course, you'd have the benefit of efficiency, but also had benefit of data. Because now suddenly, when you have students in a classroom, you can monitor the activity at the individual granular level, which you can't really do in a classroom. Now, suddenly, you have better insight and better insight is better teaching and better teaching is better learning and better learning is better contributors to society and contributes to societies better economic growth, right? But you have another trend, if you look at it, which is, you know, we're about to enter, you know, an inflation recession. stagflation. The point is, it is not the best economic climate we've ever been in a long time. And what happens when it's not a good economic climate, governments cut on education budget, and they cut on health? And how do you deliver the same amount of value with 10 times less cost? You use technology, right? So I think the big trend of online education is going to be there, it will allow, you know, one of the companies we have is on virtual reality. It's mind blowing what you have in virtual reality, but like, you know, if you're a kid in El Salvador, and you know, you've only seen the Pyramids of Giza on a piece of paper. Now, you can put a headset on and genuinely, if you feel like you're in Egypt, it's incredible. Like, it's really such an immersive experience. So I think you're gonna have a method of education that is going to be much, much, much more digital. And I think it's a great thing. Because if you think about the value of data on any sector, and if I give you one more example, we have one company called cents education. And essentially, what they say is like, education in teaching is one of the very few things where courts don't get updated on the real time feedback of students and their experience maybe gets updated once a decade by the professor. Now we can do that. And we can tell the professor where to update because where the students make the most mistakes in order for disenchanted better experience before the next students to improve, right? So that's why I think it's a very exciting space. It's also a very exciting space because a lot of founders in edtech they're not as sophisticated and trialled as the one in FinTech. So there's a lot of things they know, they don't know. And, and, you know, they want to learn and I think here as an accelerator, we both play a role as a supercharger of their business goals, but also, as almost coaches on Okay, here are the rules of funds when you build a company, whether it was net tech when FinTech but they don't know that yet. So, so yeah, that's the excitement and I think that's the market ahead of us.

Victor 9:38

Now, you've mentioned, you know, a lot of examples of ad tech, encompassing things like virtual reality and new technologies and, you know, zoom and whatnot. But one thing that I always think about is, is there an opportunity for technology to revitalise education in lower income countries the same way that financial technology has made and mobile phones have made finance in developing countries a lot more accessible and a lot more prevalent. Is that something that we see in ad tech as well? Or is it still kind of a higher income country? Kind of thing?

Janos Barberis 10:24

Yeah, no, I think it's a good point, I think that there's really two, two big pieces to this, right? The first piece is, low income families that already have access to education can now get much more value for what they do by using technology. Right. So here you enhance the experience of people that are already under low tier, but now have education. So let me give you an example. You know, we, I think the average salary in El Salvador is $500 a month, right? A trip to Egypt, and to see the pyramid would cost three months of salary for a kid, right? And now suddenly, by sending a $100 VR headset, in a school in El Salvador, you can literally share that headset across 20 students for five, five bucks a student. And I'm not joking, it's like you generally feel you're almost in Egypt. And so here, people that have education, but would never have access to maybe that immersive education for those field trips, which are great now can have access to it right. And so this is really this idea of virtual reality, doing things differently, immersion, and then you have another piece, which is the piece around how do you reach people that never got education in the first place? Right. And I think here, the technology is ready. But the problem is in the infrastructure. Right? So how can you? How can you know, online education without the internet is a non starter online education without a tablet is a non starter on any occasion without a phone is a non-starter, right? And so you need things like 4g networks, or sometimes 5g networks. Let's say you do an online course. So if you do an assignment, you could do 4g, right, or 3g, maybe. But if you do an online course, you need 5g video. But then you have another thing, which is okay, but who pays for the cost of the internet? So because now I'm consuming a MOOC, a massive online online course. But that data cost is going to be high. And maybe I don't have $6 a month in data. And so then you have companies which are very interesting. So what they do is, they try to bring education by not changing the behaviour of the kid. So a lot of people have dumb phones, so not quite smartphone, but dumb phones. A lot of people have WhatsApp, because WhatsApp actually is often subsidised by Facebook in low income countries, right? So the cost of using WhatsApp is not free. And so what an amazing startup out of South Africa is doing which, which I think is fascinating. And we wanted to shortlist and we didn't get them and we'll just raise 2 million. Really big congratulations to them is they're hacking the WhatsApp, telcos subsidy to push you online learning content. And then they bought a chatbot for you to learn. And so that way, if you go, you know, I want to learn and everything goes to WhatsApp, so they pull the internet and WhatsApp becomes your interface. So that way, if you want to consume a Wikipedia page on, you know, what is fintech? Or what is democracy? If you go on Wikipedia, this is an internet connection that transfers data that you need to pay for. But if you ask on WhatsApp and WhatsApp pulls the data and brings it to you in the form of a chatbot in the form of text now you don't pay for that consumer consumption of knowledge. And I think that's fascinating. And I think those things are going to be hacking the system around that. But I think low income country, it's really a question of, unfortunately, low income by definition, affordability. And online education is data-rich. I mean, back in FinTech, I used to say revolute is incredible, but revolute the app is 600 megabytes just to download it. And that could be your monthly budget forecast, especially in low income countries where the internet is actually quite expensive. So that's where we are on that side.



In your career of helping startups, I'm sure you've seen a lot of trials and struggles, but you yourself have been building, you know, essentially a startup as well. And you've done two supercharger iterations, a FinTech and an edtech In your, you know, career in this accelerator field, what have been your biggest trials and struggles? I

Janos Barberis 15:08

mean, you know, you say career but it almost was random and luck and grit and mistakes right to you, I don't think you wake up saying I want to, I want to be an entrepreneur as a career, I think you stumbled into entrepreneurship, either because you really want to capture an opportunity, or either because you need to make money for yourself or your parents, whatever. But what what I'm getting at is, you know, when when you start entrepreneurship, you don't honestly think it's a career you think. And then you make it a career because you learn more and more and more, but just to go this book, I think, on the what, what I've learned during the first supercharger and I know for, you know, a lot of people listening because you know, entrepreneurship, or because you've been entrepreneurs, for yourself. And also for the people, which are not entrepreneurs, something else will sound maybe like, platitudes. But I'll try to, you know, to substantiate every point. I think, first, there is no doubt entrepreneurship, it makes you humble. I, I thought intrapreneurship was about big ego, and certain people have big ego to drive companies, and it's okay, but fundamentally, the reason why you need a team and the reason why the team is so important is because entrepreneurship and building a company makes you realise is that you may be good at certain things, but you're really bad at many, many things. And, and the reason why it's so evident is because when you do a company, you cannot specialise at the beginning, and you are exposed to the things that you're not good at. Whereas if you join a corporation, you'll do something very specific. And there's a huge amount of network around you. But you know, that you don't need to know something else, because you've been hired to do one thing. And so it makes you humble. The second part, as an extension of humbleness is something that a lot of founders have experienced imposter syndrome, is, you know, but I'm humbled, but like maybe I'm lucky, maybe I shouldn't be there. And maybe, you know, I don't deserve all of that. And I think the reason why people have impostor syndrome before, beyond being a syndrome, is the fact that at this one, you're a first time entrepreneur, you really don't know what you don't know. And as you keep on growing the business, you keep on facing brand new problems. And those brand new problems, you need to approach them and you don't know if you have an answer, because the first time you came across them. So you always have that uncertainty about yourself, because you keep on being thrown things that show up for the first time. Now, when you're a second time entrepreneur, you can start seeing patterns. But let's say your first company went all the way to series, a, well, if you do the second company, I think you'll be like, you know, a happy fish and his fish tank until series A and then you're gonna arrive in series B and you're gonna have exactly the same amount of personal doubt and questioning, because you again, entering in unknown territory. I think that I've learned D, some, another intrapreneur guy called Patek said, you know, you always meet people twice in your life. And, and I didn't fully understand that at the time. And so, you know, I did burn bridges with a few people. Also, because I think sometimes certain people didn't deserve it, it was a waste of time, but certain other people, it was not them. I wasn't seeing just clearly, and I think when you're in pain when you build your first company, because you're always in pain, you're surviving, right? You, you start to mono focus on certain things, and you kick people out of your life that you shouldn't. And it's not that they're wrong, it's just that you see things totally differently, right? And I think you need to have that, that openness of understanding it. And, and, and then culture, I think culture is a competitive advantage. It's what you know why the keeper keeps the team together. And what client sees, right? Because you can be front facing as a founder all the time. You need your team and your team is an extension of you. And again, I do think team is a technology. I think you can train a team well. It's like a way to scale yourself to other people. So I think those are the things I've learned and then last but certainly not least is no one told me how hard entrepreneurship will be psychologically and physically no one and this I'm learning it now. But they tell you a lot of reasons why why startups fail and they told you a lot of things on books on what you need to know to build your product and know One tells you around,

Janos Barberis 20:02

sleep regularly, eat well and go to the gym. Talk to your founders. Like no one tells you this and this I've learned the hard way.

Victor 20:14

Yeah, I mean, those things no one ever tells you you always see like the glory stories are so and so they raise this round and they put it online and there's always a sense of like, maybe a little bit of envy, you know, or you're like looking across the street, you know, how come their lawn is growing so well, but mine is not growing so well. But, you know, I mean, it's very lonely, right? It's very, there's a lot of, like exhaustion that we have to go through in order to achieve our goals.

Janos Barberis 20:43

But beyond that, beyond the amazing story, even the horror story no one takes to talk to you about loneliness and things they go horror story. I got fooled by Vc horror story, a client stuff me a horror story. It was a horror story. But no one really tells you a horror story. It's, it's, it's exhausting to make a decision at one point. But you got that email. And that email is as simple as, hey, you know, hey, Janos was gonna take a holiday tomorrow? No big deal, right? For 99% of people. And sometimes as a founder, you go like, I can't, I can't respond. I just can't, right? I think that at that level of things, people don't say even on the horror stories side, so you're right, which is, I think, being lonely. The only way I rationalise it, I think, is if you are lonely. Sometimes, it's also because that's where there's the most value to be created. Like, if you're the only one to have seen an opportunity in the market, that's where there's the most money to be made. Right, your first mover, you've seen something that other people haven't seen, and therefore you are lonely, right? So I get that. But unfortunately, loneliness is a six. So loneliness in a decision can be a good signal. But it shouldn't be a consequence of entrepreneurship and a weight on your shoulder. Right? It's, it should be Yeah, I'm the first one that was at this idea. And I'm willing to take the plunge. But from that moment onward, you shouldn't be lonely anymore, you should have people that love you, people that care for you, people that support you. And you can be lonely in your thoughts, lonely in your idea of being a visionary. Because being a visionary, by definition, you see what people don't see. But you shouldn't be lonely in the operation, lonely in your emotional and in your physical health. You know that it's and this I think people really don't talk about. And it's a shame, because, because one of the other things that I've realised being a founder, at one point, a lot of it is about operation. And at one point, a lot of things are about thinking and delegation. And thinking and delegation requires such a clear mind. And if you don't have that you won't communicate well, you won't coordinate well. You won't trust your team. And then it doesn't work because your company, if it's successful, will always out-execute you. Like you cannot, as a founder, you may think you can do things 10 times better. But trust me, you cannot do things 10 times better than your team. If you have 10 team members, one boundary is not equal to 10 people. And if one boundary is equal to 10, people fire your team, because you're doing a shit job training them. Like, two of your staff should be as good as you are one of your staff. So when founders say, you know, I can do 10 to the job of 10 people said, you're really doing a shitty job hiring, and you're doing shitshow but upskilling. And once you understand that, then you realise the power of delegation for yourself. 

Victor 23:46

I mean, like them, there's so much to unpack there. You know, I mean, like, as a founder I, in terms of loneliness, I myself feel very lucky that I have a co founder, right, but one of the biggest benefits is not just the sense of like, oh, feeling physically lonely, or I'm on my own in this situation, but just having someone to help me stay focused and stay the course on the plan. Right, like, I know, some founders who are full of energy. But, you know, every week is a new idea, every week is a new kind of plan. And there's not a lot of focus, and it's, it's exhausting for them. Right. And I know that they want to focus but there's a lot of self doubt, as well. Right. And a lot of apprehension about whether the decision they made is right. And you know, I wonder how how how you would look at that for for solo founders, like how do they how should they kind of approach the, you know, focus towards an individual goal if they have no one to kind of bounce ideas off of Was it a matter of bringing your senior people in, and they might not be a co-founder, but really trusting more of the people on your team?

Janos Barberis 25:07

Like the first supercharger was a, I was a solo founder. I mean, I had an incredible partner that really supported me. And I had some amazing Professor Douglas and Ross Perot supporting me and her great team. Right. But so it was, I think it's a bit unfair to say that I was a solo founder. Because those people, you know, whether it was in that, you know, whether it was toddlers and Ross or, or whether it was a team, that didn't want me to be alone, right. But I was not sufficiently intelligent, to let them in, or at least to be able to tell them, in my words, using their understanding of how not to be alone, right. So I've burned bridges and isolated myself. Now, the reason why I'm starting with this is, I know a lot of solo founders. But if anything, all those solo founders on their pitch deck, they always have advisors, I haven't seen a pitch deck in the last 10 years that was not an advisory board. Now. Granted, sometimes this advisory board is just for the show, right? And they never talked to those people. And maybe those people don't even know. But what I'm getting at is, if you're a solo founder getting to talk to your advisory board, at the very least, like so that's what I'm getting at right, which is that being a co-founder is not an answer for everything. And I think that bringing your co-founder, just because you want to share to be better, I think it's not justification, you want to bring a co-founder because they bring an expertise that you don't have beyond sharing the weight of decision across right. So new supercharger, three co founders, and it's super thankful like it's worth everything like the mash focuses on the investment side, something that I get, but I'm not as good as he is at Alessandra, he focused on the part, which is, again, something that I get, but not as good. And then finally, you have the whole notion around, you know, how do we approach a problem? And then we break it up and then go, how do we split a decision. So this is not to say that you don't have co-founders. Having co founders just removes every tension. Because you start having a co founder, you start having tension that doesn't exist when you don't have co founders, for example, decision making is now shared. But if you're a self starter, that's a new tension, right? But the pros for having co founders are way higher than the cons. And therefore going back on the solo founder side, you know, I think use your advisory board and have someone to talk to on there. So join the other founders group. But I guess my point is, use your advisory board, even if it's not for your mental health, like you have people on your deck? Well, first of all, if you gave them equity, or even if you didn't give them equity, and you considered it, like had at least a quarterly call with your board? And I can guarantee you no one is I mean, not no one. But like 80% of early stage founders, they don't do coterie calls with their board. They don't. And that's a mistake. Because one of the things that I also got to learn is when you're a solo founder, and someone goes to you and says, Hey, Janos, let's Can we can we do this, the buck stops with you. And when you're in that position where you have to make a decision and the other person knows that you're the only person that can make a decision, that decision becomes exhausting. Because it has a consequence. And it's such an amazing answer to be able to say, let me check with my co-founder, I'll get back to oh, let me check this my board. Because suddenly it reveals you from the pressure of so I would doing it or not. And that's not easy. So

Victor 29:06

it's a lot. It's all about the pressure, right? You know, everyone's like under pressure, how can you release a little steam? And, you know, we've been talking a lot about stress and, you know, the mental, you know, difficulties of running a startup. And I guess that brings us to the founders taboo. You know, this is an organisation that you've founded recently, and it's been growing and I've participated in some of the, the sessions and I think it's really cool, but I'd love to hear from your words a little bit more about what is founders taboo and how did you decide to start it?

Janos Barberis 29:43

So what is common stuff? Founders taboo is a marketplace for founders, well being and leadership. So we connect founders with resources or individuals that can support them on that, so we need a leadership coach who can founders Do you find it? You need someone that helps you with your depression, you don't find this taboo, you'll find an online course or book or a peer group. So it's a marketplace, right? And that the division of it, the reason why it's a marketplace it becomes from why we started founders, everyone who started founders. So founders taboo is part of supercharger writer to supercharger ventures company that operates independently because we want to grow it as a separate, separate entity because founders taboo is bigger than just attack. It's any founder. Right? But, you know, founders taboo, it's been cited by myself, but also someone called Annabelle I found this taboo. I'm not a psychologist, I'm a founder. Annabelle is not a psychologist, she has a psychology degree. So I think we realised we're not comfortable. So Northside should be the one providing the care for the founder. We can provide guidance, we can provide signposting, we can provide awareness, we can provide marketing, but the ultimate outcome still should rest with professional people that have 10, 20, 30 years experience of doing that, right? And so that's a reason why we decided to approach the marketplace. And also we think it's fundamentally more scalable. And we want the ecosystem to be growing. If I add on one more question that you had, which is, you know, why did we start creating founders who it comes from, at the end of the first supercharger I, the first because I ended because I got sick, I was in the hospital for a while. And as I got sick, I suddenly wasn't able to be an entrepreneur anymore. I was a patient in a hospital bed, whose super powers had been taken away, I couldn't go on calls, I couldn't do emails, I couldn't. I couldn't even manage my time, like doctors were pulling me at random times to run checks on me. Right. So I couldn't even schedule anything. So suddenly, my whole self is an independent self starter, and I'll do what I want. I became dependent. And, then I got scared that I couldn't be a founder anymore. Right? I felt like I could even do it. And I think that fear of not knowing how to ever ride a bike again has been there, and then I kind of hit it, I kind of put it under a rug. And he kept on coming, I could see that I was off. I saw I was imbalanced. And then I started the new supercharger. And then you know, it's a bit like PTSD, like to think hits me like a rock, you're gonna do a new company. Just to be clear, here's what's going to happen. And then I got really, really scared. And I got scared to the point that I needed help. And what do I do, I go to the NHS, which is live in the UK, in London and the National Health System in the UK. And it doesn't work. The waiting time, six, nine months. And now the end of care for me is February 2024. It doesn't align with a timeline of a founder like time and speed is critical in everything. And so by the time I was, by the time I did my first therapy session with the NHS, founders, the goo was up and running six months, a staff hired. And we already had 20 hours of content for founders. So founders, the guru is just a better, faster, more visible, executed support network for founders and their mental health and leadership. But because we're not psychologists, we decided to be a marketplace. And we will connect the single best resources with the founders and then for the founders to choose the providers they wish for their condition or their goal that they want to reach. So to understand we can also solve pain but also can allow you to reach a goal. It can reduce your depression for you to be creative without the downside of creativity in order for you to get a breakthrough idea and, you know, come up with a new product approach for you. So it's a good question. And I'll pull an image, I guess maybe you can share it on your side later. But um, let me find it. I thought it was interesting. So there was a guy called Michael Freeman.

Janos Barberis 34:40

And Michael Freeman was interesting because essentially what he said is that mental health issues can be a consequence or a precondition of entrepreneurship. And so, the short thing is that certain mental health conditions for example, like bipolar, are associated with a very high level of risk-taking And because of that, you might essentially work for a company where other people wouldn't do it right, because you have that love for training stuff now. And then what he did is there's a series of conditions that if you map them, it can explain certain traits of entrepreneurship. So it's the dark side and the bright side of certain mental health conditions and how it maps back to intrapreneurs. So let me get that I'll try to find you the example. So I'll run through some of them. The work was done by a lady and I'll need to find her name. But I think it was also supported by Michael Freeman's work. So let's take depression, right. So depression on the negative side, brings to unproductive rumination, right? You stay in your house and you don't do anything. But also when you're depressed, you start to be deeply analytical in your thinking, right? You overthink to the point of cracking something. Let's take an ADHD ADHD, it's impulsivity and distraction on the negative but on the positive side, it's curiosity and hyperfocus. When you just have the AGI you just like to out-execute everyone around you. Addiction is distress. It's a disease, right. But it's also a novelty sensation and risk, which can be a drive that you want. And actually, I've got to catch myself, I was addicted at one point on closing deals, I was getting so high the moment I would announce it. And then the next day I was depressed. I was what I was like, lacking it. And it was very clear that I had those highs when I was announcing something, then after this, I go way low, because I'm missing that adrenaline, bipolar, unstable mood, you know, and a terrible mood and energy. But it's also productivity and creativity. Burnout, it's obsessive passion, but therefore it is also productive passion, you will work yourself to death to reach a goal, right. But you could just work yourself not to death to reach a goal. Right. And I think that that's one. And then the last one is, you know, for example, stress related illness. And so stress creates overwhelming sensations. But also when you know your stress, you become incredibly self aware about your condition, which is very useful. So I think those are elements that you can take a look at, from medical condition to intrapreneurial traits. And then you have another level of reading and that other level of reading, I recently came across. And that was done by a team of people. And the initiative is called abroad. Abroad, I believe. And here what they start doing is start mapping mental health conditions with leadership outcomes for founders. And so again, I'll give a bit of an example. But essentially, the idea around, for example, I've tried to grab something I'm literally going on their website, because I think it was great. But if you think about bad time management, bad time management leads to essentially stress. But bad time management also means that you have a poor team cohesion. And therefore you cannot be more productive as a company and therefore you're not reaching your goal. So what you may then do in reverse is that certain leadership traits of your coordination, communication, and Vision impact those elements. If you want to improve them, you may need to solve a mental health issue in order to unlock it. So I give one last example. Sometimes certainly founders and you Victor, you may know it was alright. But sometimes the moment you get venture-backed, you start losing passion for your company, because you need to start delivering not just on your vision, but on financial objective, which might be totally away from that. And therefore, if you're not still fully aligned with the vision of what you want to achieve, with the investors that you have, you start to have a disconnection between the amount of effort you put in and the amount of effort you want to put in. And as a founder, it's horrible because as a founder you go look, I don't mind not being paid but I do mind not feeling I'm making the impact I want to do

Janos Barberis 39:41

and that therefore creates depression. So you can see how there is a business outcome, a leadership outcome and the mental health outcome and actually the whole complexity I think around the topic of mental health, but to be a founder is you need to speak the psychologist language. You need to speak the company CEO languages. If, you know company performance, and you need to try to speak the founder language, which is leadership coaching, and you need to map the interrelation between all of that, and that piece of work, we've we've actually done it now,

Victor 40:14

Normally when I end these interviews, I always ask the question, you know, what would you do differently if you had to start all over again. But in your case, you have started supercharger all over again. And so, you know, I'd love to ask you, what is it that you've done differently the second time around, especially as it pertains to not just your mental health, but to making it successful in your own terms by your definition?

Janos Barberis 40:44

So I guess, three things have been done differently. I mean, there's a lot, right. But the first one is the most obvious one. And the one that I'm very thankful for is the solo founder and founder. I was alone, I have two great people around me, and I'm learning from them on a regular basis. And I'm thankful for that. Right. So that's a big difference. The second one is that I am not in my company. supercharger, even though I was not front facing at supercharging. I think, you know, in Hong Kong, I was trying to be quite low key on a few things. But the company's failure and the company's success was intimately linked to my work. And today is not the case anymore. Like, I like to challenge the new supercharger. And I like the challenge of being successful. But I am not my company. And I don't let other people make me think that I'm my company, right? So I tried to have a personality and identity beyond supercharger. And then the third one is, I got to understand that if I want to be that 10 times better founder, which I always want to be, and I always try to improve, I need to work on myself, I need to invest in myself. In the same way that you know, when you build a product, you have the product sprint and improvement sessions, you have the focus, like you need to put the same amount of effort building yourself up and building your company, especially at the beginning. And one of the whole reasons I'm putting so much effort into my psychology and my physical health. And I'm slowly getting there because when we started, I remember when we saw the beginning of the workshop of the webinar, and we talked about founders, they don't know what they don't know. And they always get challenged on things that they've never done. Supercharged, Are we closing our seed round? And, you know, we're already targeting Series A. And I've never done a series. And I want to be the single best version of the piano when I'm going to be faced with a challenge that I've never had. Because if it's a challenge I've never had, and I cannot think straight, I'll do a disservice to my co-founder, I'll do a disservice to my team, I'll do a disservice to our investors. And you know, that series A should be happening next year. And I have one year to get my body and my mind ready to start answering questions that I've never been asked and being able to report back metrics that I've never had to do. And that's something that is very different. I'm incredibly self aware about that. And I know I have the answers in my head. But I've never given myself the potential to find those answers in a calm way. As opposed to in a very chaotic productive way. Yeah, so look, the best place is always online right so you know supercharger, we have a website. If you're a tech company that wants to accelerate your growth, please reach out to us, if you're a mentor, or if you're an investor that wants to invest in tech companies, or work with tech companies again, please reach out. It's all self served on founders taboo. Either go on the website again, we currently in private beta will be releasing a series of content for people to be able to consume before making it available to the public. Or you may also try to reach out on LinkedIn, either myself, which is always a hit and miss or someone called Annabel Cameron at founders taboo and Annabelle has been the face the brain, the hands of of that initiative, which is you know, now a company and so feel free to reach out to her equally as to me because she has as much impact and talked even more than me on the last thing so

Victor 44:57

It was amazing to speak with Janos Barberis and I Proud to say he's doing amazing work addressing head on the difficulties founders have and giving them a place and community to explore them. Thanks, Janos, for being on the show and for doing everything that you're doing for the community.

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Improving Founders Mental Health with Janos Barberis of SuperCharger Ventures and Founders Taboo
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