LifeGuides Models Well-Being Business on Gig Economy

by RaeAnne Marsh

LifeGuides was created to fill what founder Mark Donohue recognized as a massive hole in corporate well-being programs by proactively providing peer-to-peer support for employees going through daily stresses and big life challenges, aiming to prevent those stresses turning into mental health issues and illness causing loss of productivity, presenteeism and absenteeism. “It offers a transformative employee emotional health and well-being solution for conscious leaders who care about supporting their employees and their families at and outside of work,” explains CEO Derek Lundsten. “LifeGuides partners with CEOs and HR leaders to deploy our services to their employees, through our online platform. Within our platform, employees’ families have access to multiple channels to receive the support they need, such as our online community, our web application where they can select the Guide(s) of their choice to book one-to-one phone sessions; chat or text with our Well-Being Directors; and find resources like podcast, webinars and blogs.”

The company was founded three years ago, with the first two spent building on the technology, before going operational for the past year.

Describing LifeGuides as the next generation of sharing economy, tapping into human experience and wisdom to help other people, Lundsten says Guides — who work on a part-time basis — must have successfully navigated and overcome one or multiple life challenges, and be able to share their own experience, wisdom and empathy with other people going through the same challenge(s). “The Guides go through a robust vetting and training process to be able to have empathetic, confidential and impactful sessions with our members. And, while not a requirement, many of our Guides also hold certifications in health, wellness, life coaching, social work.” 

Partners Donohue and Lundsten chose Arizona as an “ideal hub” for several reasons, says Lundsten. “It is a great center for talent — university students, prime career and late-stage/retirees who will have different employment goals which match our model. In addition, the tech scene here has been progressing nicely and, relative to other cities like Portland, Denver and Austin, is an attractive lifestyle and value for transplants coming from the Bay Area and NYC. In addition, it is a business-friendly state and we see that trend increasing in the coming years, in terms of investment opportunities and economic incentives,” explains Lundsten, whose background is in building companies and leading teams, and who was an early-stage investor before becoming CEO.

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