The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Hayley Caddes of Chill Pill
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Hayley Caddes, founder and CEO of Chill Pill, a social platform that enables young womxn to improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing through a community-led app offering digital peer support.
Hayley Caddes is very open about her mental health journey. As a teenager she struggled with depression, self harm, and substance abuse, which was really the result of an undiagnosed mental illness. Her parents sent her to a residential treatment center for her last two years of high school. It was there she learned how important and beneficial it is to have a community of peers. She found support groups destigmatizing and more effective than the silo of individual therapy. She particularly responded to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings because after coming from a clinical space, it was refreshing not to have a professional in the room, no moderation, and you can share anything you want - as long as it’s not giving advice or feedback.
Hayley has taken this model that has been successful for almost 100 years and is applying it to Gen Z womxn through the app Chill Pill. As founder and CEO, she created the social platform so female identifying, non-binary, womxn between the ages of 13 and 24 can benefit from peer support online. It’s an anonymous space, as there are no profile pictures, no real names, and it’s audio only. Most social media platforms have become an obsessive trap of constant comparison and are actually contributing to low self-esteem and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Chill Pill aims to help with this by offering a place for young women to be themselves, talk about mental health and well-being, and feel supported. This is definitely the time to ingest Chill Pill!
Tell us about the history of Chill Pill and why you created this app for young womxn.
A little less than a year ago I was the director of a stem entrepreneurship program for high schoolers, mostly during COVID, and many young women were coming to me with their mental health struggles. They didn’t know what to do or who to talk to and they lacked the tools and resources to get help. I was talking to people individually, but many of the girls were having similar issues and I thought that they could really benefit from talking to each other in an anonymous and supportive space. I could totally relate to what they were going through and I really set it up for what I thought I needed as a teenager.
What’s Chill Pill’s “Northstar”?
Mental health shouldn’t be depressing! We don't want anyone to ever have to struggle with their mental health alone. We’re not here to solve anyone’s problems; we’re always looking to increase our users' sense of belonging to a community. We want them to have a space where they feel safe and can be open, vulnerable, and share their personal experiences. Many Gen Z don’t have that anywhere, especially online, and we want to help these young womxn find connection through community. Eventually, we would really like to become a mental health care company for young people, but we’re starting with this community led aspect.
Tell us about a milestone Chill Pill crushed.
We just launched our app which is really exciting and engagement is super high. Now, we’re in growth mode and finding that viral loop.
What drives you into start-up battle day after day?
It’s all the girls on the app. I feel protective and so passionate about helping them. I know what it’s like to feel like you have no one - even if you do have people, but it doesn’t feel like it. I’ve been going to the support groups that they’ve been leading almost every day for months, so I’ve heard all the stuff they’re going through. It’s amazing to see the growth of our original group of girls and how much they support each other. That’s really what drives me.
What do you consider some of your greatest personal and/or professional accomplishments?
I was really proud that I raised money while I was working full-time at my other job, had no co-founder, and honestly didn’t even know what I was building sometimes. That was really exciting and validating. It was therapeutic because I could finally use my 10-12 years of very hard work on my own mental health, which I always thought was holding me back, and turn it into something extremely beneficial. As a founder there are lots of ups and downs, and because of my experience I know how to deal with that. I’ve finally been able to leverage my mental health in a professional way. I’ve always wanted to start a company and watching everything that’s happened since founding Chill Pill has been incredible.
What advice can you offer other founders?
I think it's figuring out what you need to do to take care of your mental health. For me it’s working out, meditating, therapy once a week, and hanging out with friends at least once a week in a non-work type of way. It’s about finding your baseline and doing those things consistently and being strict with yourself.