Derry’s “match.com” of healthcare

Derry entrepreneur Jennifer Neff with Microsoft Engineer Waqar Aziz who is mentoring a web based application designed by Jennifer and her business partner Leeann Monk.
Derry entrepreneur Jennifer Neff with Microsoft Engineer Waqar Aziz who is mentoring a web based application designed by Jennifer and her business partner Leeann Monk.

Two Derry women are on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues, with their web application My Social Prescription.

The pair, who are being mentored by a Microsoft Executive, will now have an office in Ebrington and one in Dubai and as the web app is set to launch they are shooting for the stars and plan to market it across the UK, Ireland and the Arab Emirates.

Just over two years ago Leeann Monk and Jennifer Neff, also known as In Your Element, had a bright idea for an internet application which would allow users to get an exact “prescription” for tackling issues around their weight and general health or “the match.com of health” as Jennifer likes to call it.

The web based application has now been tested by researchers at the University of Ulster on 70 of Derry’s finest and results, which are just about to be released, show that 95 per cent of those who took part in My Social Prescription’s 12-week programme lost weight and reduced their levels of anxiety. In fact one man lost an amazing four stone in that three-month period alone.

But In Your Element’s idea almost never saw the light of day when Jennifer took the decision to move to Dubai with her husband Fergus and their two children.

“Leeann and I had played around with the idea and had even entered a competition but we hadn’t got very far when I decided to move to Dubai. I got a job there because I needed to work but just as I was settling in we got some funding from Invest Northern Ireland and things just took off from there.

“When I left Derry I was providing the health element of Ilex’s programme and Leeann was running the programming for the Old Library Trust in Creggan. We had been inspired by Culturetech and had seen what the Dog Ears people had done and we thought ‘imagine we could do that for health’ and that’s how the idea developed. We wanted people to be able to access everything that they needed to improve their health under one roof, so to speak. I like to call it the match.com of health. While Leeann is working away on the Derry end of things, I’ve been working in Dubai and as of next month we’ll have an office in both places.

“This web app isn’t targeting marathon runners, it’s targeting people who often have little to know idea about how to get their health on track. We had some people who had never even heard of a natural yoghurt,” she laughed.

But tackling weight and health issues that could led to illnesses such as Type II diabetes is a serious business and In Your Element is also in talks with the government in Dubai as companies there will have to provide health insurance for every single employee thereby 2016.

And if the pair can manage to capture that market then the sky really is the limit.

Next month will also see an anxious wait for Jennifer as she waits to find out if she is one of the 10 finalists in a competition for female entrepreneurs in Dubai. The Ro’Ya competition sponsored by Mastercard aims to crown the best female entreprenuer in the United Arab Emirates. Jennifer has made it to the final 50 from the first 100 nominees. The last 10 will be chosen next week.

“Dubai is amazing, said Jennifer. “We are being mentored by a senior Microsoft engineer called Waqar Aziz who I just happened to run into one day. He’s taking about targeting the US and Singapore. It’s very exciting.”