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Beating the challenge of staying on-task with ADHD

Addie is going B2B with its specially-designed task manager

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ADHD suddenly seems to be everywhere. As awareness of the symptoms grows, so many people I know are discovering a possible explanation for why they are the way they are.

This surge in interest has created a growing market for apps to help people manage ADHD symptoms. Today’s startup is particularly strong in that regard. Today we meet Addie.

But first:

  • Praetura Ventures has announced a ‘Praeseed’ programme for early-stage startups based in the North of England. Described as ‘cohort investing’, it will see £200,000 invested in each of up to seven startups each October.

– Martin

This issue of PreSeed Now is brought to you by EHE Ventures.

Known for backing high-growth tech, EHE just announced they're building a £15m AI tech fund, and have finalised their core Fund Advisory team. The fund itself seeks to support and accelerate the growth of AI technologies, empowering the brightest minds in tech at pre-seed, seed and Series A.

Learn more about their mission and the fund here

Addie wants to keep people with ADHD on-task

In summary:

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Awareness of ADHD has skyrocketed in recent years. 

And while getting a formal diagnosis can take a long time, the number of people suddenly realising there’s a medical explanation for the way their brain works provides openings for tech to help.

One such example is Addie, a task management and productivity app designed specifically for people with ADHD.

“People with ADHD have executive function challenges, which means getting started on tasks is more difficult, prioritising those tasks is more difficult, and then predicting how long a task is going to take is more difficult,” explains co-founder and CEO Phil Birss.

Addie is designed to help users focus on one task at a time. It presents them in a card stack similar to dating apps like Tinder.

In the background, the app works to predict the order in which the user is most likely to start and complete tasks. The idea is that getting going with something will provide dopamine hits that can keep them going.

Beyond tasks, Addie offers trackers to help with medication, mental wellbeing, and menstruation (where relevant). Data from these trackers helps Addie predict which tasks are likely to be completed by the user at different times of the day, week, or month.

Menstruation is tracked, Birss says, because its monthly cycle can cause dopamine levels to rise and fall, which can affect productivity.

A set of community features round out the offering, allowing users to do things like share tasks with other users.

Screenshots from Addie’s onboarding flow

Designed for ADHD

Birss says Addie’s design was inspired by conversations with clinicians and ADHD professionals, which revealed that traditional productivity apps aren’t a good fit for people with the condition.

“They are either based around a calendar or a task list view. A task list is very good for capturing information, but it doesn't automatically prioritise the tasks for you, and doesn't tell you how long that task is going to take. And it doesn't really help you get started with that task. 

“A calendar is good for planning in the future, but it doesn't necessarily help you get started or remember that those tasks exist.”

Other design considerations while developing the app included accounting for ‘time blindness’, where people with ADHD have a weaker perception of the passage of time. 

“We time the task when you press ‘go’, then we've got that data to serve back to the user to say ‘typically taking the bins out takes you two minutes, you don't need to panic and cancel all your appointments for the morning, don't worry you're going to get this done pretty quickly’,” explains Birss.

A strength of the app’s design, Birss argues, is how personalised it is, rather than drawing on aggregate user data.

“In theory, because it's hyper-personalised, it will mean it's more effective, which means it will probably drive more dopamine, which means you are more likely to get started on tasks, which mean you're more likely to get stuff done and feel empowered, and you’ll feel like you're getting on with your life and hopefully use Addie more as a result.”

Addie co-founder and CEO, Phil Birss

The story so far 

Addie was inspired by the experience of Birss’ partner, Jo Vickers, who was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago.

The pair had previously run a creative and software development agency together and decided to tackle the problem of task management with ADHD, which Vickers understood firsthand. They co-founded Addie with Dan Richardson, who serves as CTO. 

The business started in 2022, and the app launched in May 2023. Available on iOS and Android, it has been downloaded 54,000 times, Birss says. 

He says 29,000 users have registered for the app, and 600 users are currently paying a subscription fee, which varies between £10 and £15 per month while the startup calibrates the ideal price point with A/B testing.

Addie, which is based near Liverpool, has begun with a consumer focus, to help the team understand its users and the market. However, Birss says they have already built a B2B platform.

This combines educational resources about ADHD and neurodiversity with the ability for businesses to provide Addie subscriptions to their employees, with company-specific community features for them.

Businesses will be charged an annual fee based on the number of employees they have using it, Birss says. The startup is also exploring selling into healthcare providers such as the NHS, but he says this is a “slightly longer burn”, given the time it can take to get such deals set up.

And there’s more!

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