When one of her therapy clients began crying and Tasha Holland-Kornegay, zoned out and unaware, realized she didn’t have a clue why, it was a defining moment for her. It was the moment that forced Holland-Kornegay to admit she was burned out, and that this burnout was keeping her from helping her clients.
Holland-Kornegay, like many healthcare workers, had plenty of reasons to suffer from burnout. She was running a mental health therapy practice while taking care of a teenager and a baby, and juggling a move from Apex to Sanford.
After she realized she had no idea why her client was crying, Holland-Kornegay knew something had to change. After talking with another friend in healthcare who was also experiencing burnout, they started searching for care-management programs but found they just did not have the time to do it.
So Holland-Kornegay asked the question: what if these resources were already together for healthcare workers and they could just use them like a magic wand?
That was the impetus for WIRL (Wellness In Real Life), a Sanford-based marketplace platform that works to prevent burnout by connecting healthcare workers to exclusive wellness deals.
While WIRL has now gained traction and even a spot in Launch Chapel Hill’s current accelerator, Holland-Kornegay said that at its founding in 2019, they didn’t have many members. Burnout was still a taboo to admit to in the healthcare field.
But when Covid hit, workers felt more empowered to say they were struggling, working tirelessly through a pandemic. The broader community was quick to offer healthcare workers their support, either by way of hyper-focused wellness offerings or meal deals or more.
Still, the healthcare workers, often strapped on time, did not know where to go to find all the deals available to them. Now they can do that with WIRL.
“I didn’t have a lot of traction in the beginning because burnout is a taboo,” Holland-Kornegay said. “So the silver lining from Covid for healthcare workers is that it’s okay to raise your hand now and let people know that you’re human, and you do burn out, and you’re not Superman.”
Fast forward to now: WIRL is getting the most out of Launch Chapel Hill and polishing its platform to make it more user-friendly, Holland-Kornegay said.
Healthcare workers will be able to go into the platform, select how they are feeling at the time—whether it be stressed, overwhelmed or upset—and a list of free resources to things like meditation apps or mood-management coaches will pop up. WIRL even offers daily services to help with time management, like laundry or food delivery programs.
“That’s what I knew was missing when I was experiencing burnout,” Holland-Kornegay said. “Having someone on the back end that could put the two together that has all the resources that you need at your fingertips.”
WIRL is free to use for workers and charges businesses $50 a month for access to the platform’s user base. From there, the businesses can offer specific discounts and adjust them at any time.
“This is a niche market, so a lot of people want access to healthcare workers,” Holland-Kornegay said. “Some people just don’t know where to begin or maybe just don’t have the money to market to them.”
The $50 subscription per month is manageable compared to other options for small businesses.
Showing traction, looking to scale
Currently, WIRL sees more than 1,000 healthcare workers using the platform. Holland-Kornegay hopes to scale this up soon by getting HR departments at hospitals to use the platform as a resource to retain workers. There are over 200 businesses using the platform.
From her time as a founder, Holland-Kornegay has realized the importance of using your time wisely.
“I couldn’t get the time back, but I wasn’t using it wisely because I was all over the place,” Holland-Kornegay said. “I’ve learned that I can’t do it all on my own because I’ll get burned out again; just to take everything in pieces and it all fits together nicely.”
WIRL’s entrance into the Launch Chapel Hill accelerator also signifies a new time of development for the company. When she first went into the accelerator, Holland-Kornegay said she mistakenly believed the product was already the best it could be and Launch would just help connect her with hospitals.
“They made me really take a look at the platform and the product,” Holland-Kornegay said. “When I entered Launch, it wasn’t user-friendly. In Launch, it is almost there, so they pretty much helped me escape a disaster.”
While WIRL has entered a period of product redesign to become more user-friendly, it has also gained a supportive environment of entrepreneurs within the Launch program. This could be vital as WIRL continues on its plans to start local, connecting with the area’s hospitals, and ultimately become a national platform.