In Asian countries, discussions around mental health are often seen as taboo. However, Janos Barberis strongly believes that these discussions should be surfaced and must be talked about. Join us as we learn from Janos as he speaks from his own experience about the need for mental health support and how it can help founders better traverse the arduous start-up journey.
Janos first shares why he decided to create his first supercharger and help start-ups jump start their journey. He first came out of university in 2010 during the financial crisis and was denied opportunities to pursue a banking career. He felt wronged and wanted to make sure that this unfortunate situation would not befall others. This was the moral compass that guided Janos, driving him to start SuperCharger and give young people the opportunity to redefine the finance industry. While he was targeting founders who were Millennials, Janos does not exclude other demographics like Gen Zs who he believes are also subject to social inequality. This is something that he actively tries to address through SuperCharger.
When asked about what makes a good founder, Janos cites resilience as an especially large factor. There are many hardships to be expected from a start-up journey and founders need to be able to weather the various storms. However, being resilient and pressing on through difficult times also means that mental health becomes a serious problem which needs to be addressed. Janos notes that about 9 in 10 start-ups die in the first year. Often, these deaths can be attributed to poor mental health faced by founders. There are founders who are self-aware of their mental fatigue but do not speak of it perhaps due to taboo or lack of an avenue. For them, hearing another founder share about their own mental health issues can be a trigger point in enabling them to also speak out. For founders who are unaware of their fatigue, Janos mentions how all that can be done is letting them know that there is an avenue here for them. This way, if the event where these founders struggle in the future, they know that they’ll be a safe space for them to visit. Overall, there needs to be more discussions surrounding the topic of mental well-being and the creation of spaces where people feel safe to speak up.
As we dive further into the topic of mental health, Janos likens founders to pro athletes. Both founders and pro athletes are exceptional in their performance and can deliver at a high level. However, while pro athletes have an entire support team to cater to their well-being, the same is not true for many founders. Janos believes that this needs to change. Even something simple as having the support of a co-founder can make a tremendous impact on one’s mental health. Seemingly mundane experiences such as sharing a taxi with a co-founder and laughing about a meeting that just transpired can help unpack heavy information and lighten the tension.
To conclude, Janos believes that everyone could use some help and support. It takes 10 years to develop the skills to be successful at what you’re doing. The journey can be frustrating and arduous, but with the right support and mindset, anything is possible.