JBalvin, The Prince Reggaeton, has been candid with his fans about his mental health struggles and healing journey. Now, he’s producing part of his journey by launching OYE, a Spanish/English wellness app.
The app, which supports those struggling with mental health issues, was created by Balvin and his two co-founders, Mario Chamorro, a creative wellness activist and acting CEO; and Patrick Dowd, a creative strategist and company COO.
“It’s one of my biggest dreams because it comes from my heart,” Balvin told Technology Flow in an interview. “I’m human like everyone else and I feel like I have this mission to make the world a better place with mental health.” While a co-founder, Balvin was the chief dream officer, or CDO, the company says. Although it’s a creative title, it’s unclear how much Balvin will be involved in day-to-day operations, or if he’ll be used mostly for marketing and distribution efforts. Aside from being a co-founder, Technology Flow Balvin’s role is helping the team “dream big,” the company said.
According to an internal study conducted by OYE, 92% of respondents in Latin America have a negative perception of mental health and mental health services. Technology Flow requested to view the study, but a spokesperson said they could not share it because it was “proprietary information” for the company. However, a report published by the American Medical School Association offered a similar statistic shares. The AMSA report notes that cultural mental health stigma exists in the Latino community and that there is little understanding of what it means to access mental health services. Additionally, according to a study published in Hispanic Health Care International, Latinos in the US receive mental health services 50% less often than their white counterparts.
For the above reasons, Balvin and his co-founders said it was critical to offer OYE bilingually.
“[We’re] “It’s changing the way we talk about mental and emotional health from a personal burden to a creative opportunity to exercise to create new dimensions of your life,” said Dowd, head of brand innovation & collaborations at PayPal. “We’ve actually built two versions of our app that we’re launching this month. One of them is entirely in Spanish, the other is entirely in English, and our team is also bilingual and spread across the Americas.
Oy, a Spanish word translated into English that means listen, has become the team’s driving goal.
The app provides users with bilingual wellness practices and daily wellness check-ins. Users can also go through creative wellness exercises like guided training on how to better understand their emotions. Daily wellness practices can be between 30 to 45 minutes.
Users who download the app before October 31 will have access to a one-month free trial. After that trial period, users pay $4.99 each month to access OYE and its resources.
When OYE for iOS and Android hits the international market, it will have to prove that it can do more than influence Balvin’s reputation.
Balvin has seen many celebrities add startups to their careers: Serena Williams and her journey into venture capital; Kim Kardashian is a private equity deal maker; And “Selling Sunset” star Christine Quinn is working on her crypto-based brokerage. For the Grammy-nominated artist, being the CDO of a wellness app is a side gig for now.
“We all dream and dream big,” Balvin said.[At OYE] We have combined our strength, talent and capabilities to create this beautiful app.
However, Oi is entering a space where wellness apps and digital therapies have overgrown the market. BetterHelp, Talkspace, Headspace and Serenity are just a few platforms that come to mind. Wellness apps boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have since been questioned for their practicality and effectiveness.
One thing was clear to Technology Flow: OYE wants partnerships to effectively reach the grassroots.
“[JBalvin] “The man in Reggaeton has the highest number of collaborations in his music and that’s how he’s been able to become a rising artist and the Prince of Reggaeton by collaborating,” Chamorro said. “We’re developing a lot of caring partnerships around us and that’s how we work to expand OYE’s voice.”
The company says it has partnered with Apple and Google to better optimize the app on their respective platforms.
The road to breaking mental health stigma is long, but Balvin hopes the initiative will help remove those stigmas and “make the world a better place.”
OYE was able to secure support in the form of a $4.1 million pre-seed round led by co-under Aaron Rasmussen of MasterClass and Outlier.org in partnership with Collab Fund, 17Sigma, Expa, GreyMatter, Propeller Ventures, Gaingels, Alley Corp. CEO Kevin Ryan, former Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, Future Ventures co-founder Maryanna Saenko and Coursera CEO Jeff Magioncalda.
The round of funds will be used to further develop content, improve marketing, upgrade the app based on user feedback and start promoting B2B offerings, which the team said it plans to offer next year.