Designer, Coder, Founder

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Hullo! My name is Simon and at work I’m the Design Director at BfB Labs, a company I cofounded

I design products that make people measurably healthier

I believe products should serve the people who use them
Designers are at their best solving meaningful problems for people

I believe in research
We must know our products are doing quantifiable good

I believe in empathy
A deep and respectful approach to understanding the people we are serving

 
 
 

I’m the product owner on Plato, BfB’s innovative clinical research platform.

Plato began with the observation that existing evaluation processes were failing digital health products. Less than 1 in 10,000 health innovations have performed any research at all examining whether they work.

We began a redesign of the trial process from the ground up, aiming to create new processes that slice through some historically knotty problems in recruitment, participant management and data collection. Exciting product propositions are being co-created with partners in the NHS and universities in the UK. Our vision: the creation of the nation’s first fully digital Clinical Trials Unit.

 
 
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From 2015 to mid 2017 I led the team creating Champions of the Shengha

We built our own cutting edge biofeedback technology and collaborated with clinical psychologists to build a video game which measures and responds to player’s emotions.

This product empowers young users to teach themselves to be more emotionally resilient - protecting themselves against more serious mental health problems.

 
 

Together with partners at Shift Design and funded by Google, our team created a technology for measuring user valence and arousal. We put our tech to work in a fully gamified health intervention which asked players to master their magical power in spectacular duels against other players.

 
 
 
 

Players who learned to cast powerful spells were also learning to regulate their own emotional responses. To evaluate, we ran a multi-site RCT. 4 in 5 participants were able to use techniques taught by the game to reduce physiological signs of stress. Champions of the Shengha has been featured in Wired, The Guardian, Mashable on Sky News and by the BBC. The product was an awarded finalist in Google’s global Impact Challenge.

 
 
 

BfB labs has expanded in 2018 with a second team building an intervention for young people with chronic anxiety  

Working closely with psychologists to understand the systemic shortfalls in NHS provision we are adapting exposure therapy into a format that can be delivered to 150,000 young people stuck on 18 month long waiting lists.

 
 
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I founded BfB Labs in 2015 alongside Duncan Brown and funded by private equity

Our mission has grown in ambition over time, but the original purpose remains: to reinvent healthcare, improving access and outcomes for every audience.

In the last three years we have raised over £1.5 million and used it to launch our first product and initiate two new teams, each themselves approaching first sales with new outputs.

 
 
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At Playlab, 2013-15 I oversaw our development into a company that created products that helped people to be healthier and happier

I took the role of product owner for Flowy - a tool which over 100,000 people still use to manage the symptoms of chronic anxiety and panic.


 
 

Flowy was built to address a serious shortfall in provision that leaves only 15% of those with mental health issues receiving treatment.

User data demonstrated a significant change in self reported anxiety symptoms over 2 weeks of use, and 52% of users improve their anxiety by at least a whole diagnostic category. We conducted a randomised controlled trial evaluating Flowy which has been published in the Games for Health Journal. Flowy has been featured in Wired, the Guardian and the BBC and has been exhibited in the London Design Museum.

 
 
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In 2012 I founded Playlab London and led the design and development of Lumi, a biofeedback controlled game which helped to improve its player’s emotional health

Playlab was founded as a studio producing products which solved big problems with applied design thinking.

Lumi was the product of original research into using live data from the human body to build deep understanding of our users. In close collaboration with young users we built a game that used this live modelling and evidence-based strategies to teach young players to manage and overcome anxiety symptoms.

 
 
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I’m passionate about redesigning health care because of my own experiences with ill health

I was first diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009. At its height the condition was deeply debilitating. With no proper understanding of what I was going through, or access to treatment I was struggling a great deal more than I had to.  

My experiences help me to build empathy as designer. They have given me a visceral experience of how deeply we should strive to understand our users if we want to build effective solutions for them.

 
 
 

I fell in love with design because it equips me to make things that are useful

I aspire to a scientific rigour in creating effective solutions to meaningful problems. I am privileged to contribute to products that have quantifiable effects on their users.

Working in the field of health I have to hold myself to a high standard of evidence. The proof lies in the data we collect, but empathy remains as vital as insight. When I hear from users that our products have made a difference in their lives it brings meaning to my work.

 
 
 
 
 

I’ve been building and coding since I was 11 years old

That was when I coded my first videogame. I started building and designing for clients online when I was 16 years old. I founded my first business at 19 - an online music store

As the internet matured into a designed environment, I saw the potential of planning digital spaces in a deliberate way. When I started to get my hands dirty, I fell in love with making meaningful things for real people. I still love bringing new ideas to life today.

 
 
 
 
 

Want to talk?

Find me on LinkedIn, or send me a message.