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The Holly High Five 🖐: Holly Health Founders

Grace

Grace Gimson is CEO and cofounder of Holly Health, where she oversees business strategy, operations, advertising + marketing, brand + product development and team management. Grace has always been obsessed by human psychology and getting the most out of life. This has taken her down the route of doing 400 skydives, becoming a health coach, and building and growing tech startups. She feels very lucky to be building Holly Health and hopes it can help people to get the most out of their life.

1. What inspired you to pursue this career?

I’ve always been really motivated to do something useful and significant with my career. Not everyone gets the chance of a stable and supported start to life. I was lucky, so I think it’s my responsibility to do what I can to support others. Having grown up just as mobile technology and software as a service were really taking off, I saw how much opportunity there was for technology to alleviate some of our biggest human challenges. I don’t need to explain how big our global health challenges are, particularly when it comes to psychological health, so that’s where I wanted to focus my energy.
Through the launch of Holly Health, we believe we’ll be able to support millions to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, and we know we’ll enjoy the journey as well.

2. What is or has been your biggest personal or professional challenge, and what have you learned from it?

I think my biggest personal and professional challenges are yet to come, as we grow Holly Health to the scale we wish to 🙌

3. What does success look like to you?

Success looks different to everyone, but I feel successful when I can see that I’ve had a positive impact (no matter how small) on someone else's lived experience. The more people who benefit, the better. This is why I love using technology. I already feel successful on a smaller scale but I hope the feeling will be multiplied many times over the coming years.

4. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

2 things (partly told to me and partly observed)
  1. Everyone is making it up as they go along. Politicians, startup founders, investors, parents. What sets people apart is often their internal level of confidence to create their own path, and to experiment or change things up along the way.
  2. Perfection is an unhealthy goal. This is hard to get your head around until you build up your own experiences striving for perfection. Very often that final 10 or 20% is not worth the psychological stain. Doing multiple things well and efficiently is better than doing one thing perfectly. This is particularly true for anyone building a company.

5. If you were to do one thing that brings you joy every day, what would that be?

To be able to breathe in fresh air each day, knowing that I have ultimate freedom of choice. And that my choice each day is to create Holly Health.
If I could, I’d love to swim in the sea or a lake or river every day! It's a bit tricky in London.

Claire

Claire Wu is CPO and cofounder of Holly Health, where she is responsible for all things product and engineering. She is a software engineer with a PhD in neuroscience who believes technology should help our brains and bodies become more healthy. Through building Holly Health, Claire is combining her passion for self-improvement, behavioural economics and therapeutic approaches to empower individuals with the tools to take control of their own health.

1. What inspired you to pursue this career?

I’ve always been fascinated by how the human mind works and what influences (cultural, environmental, biological) determine our life choices and outcomes. I initially took a very academic path, completing a PhD in neuroscience, but ultimately decided that founding my own company was the best way to be able to help people to achieve better control and understanding of their own psychology and health outcomes, on a global scale.

2. What is or has been your biggest personal or professional challenge, and what have you learned from it?

What I’ve found most challenging throughout my life is finding the behaviours that support my mental and physical health, that I can actually sustain over time. In the past, a lot of my professional and academic success was fuelled by unhelpful cycles of high stress and anxiety, together with a huge number of abortive attempts at ‘getting healthy’ or ‘being less stressed’ where I forced myself into doing activities that I disliked and felt monumentally effortful - because no pain no gain, right? Through many years of experimentation and growing self awareness of the specific environmental variables I personally need to have in place to make a routine stick, I now feel like I’ve reached a state where my work and achievements can be driven by intrinsic motivation rather than external stressors - although there’s always room for improvement!

3. What does success look like to you?

I want to be able to look back on my life and point to the measurable positive impact I’ve had in the world - whether that’s quality adjusted life years, physical or mental health outcomes, happiness or productivity measures, or something else. Of course many of the metrics we use to define ‘good outcomes’ have flaws, but I believe the process of questioning, improving and reaching towards a robust quantitative definition of human progress and wellbeing is an extremely worthwhile process.

4. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

In the words of the oracle at Delphi, “know thyself” (γνῶθι σαυτόν). Building more self awareness - of preferences, cognitive patterns, strengths, limitations, and the ever-changing nature of these as situations change and the self adapts and learns - is a never-ending source of interest and insight. For me, it drives a strong external search for knowledge (for how can you know yourself other than as an embodied, enculturated being) as well as introspective awareness.

5. If you were to do one thing that brings you joy every day, what would that be?

I do enjoy walking my dog! He likes to sniff everything and plod along at an impossibly slow pace, which reminds me to take the more mindful meandering path instead of the zoomed in, relentless drive forward that startup work can often engender.


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The Holly High Five