SA tech startup aims to promote emotional intelligence among students 

Johannesburg-based tech startup It’sOk has created a cutting-edge emotional intelligence app that is designed specifically for a school environment. The tech startup has combined the power of technology with a holistic approach to promoting emotional awareness and intelligence among young students in South Africa. 

It’sOk is an emotional intelligence app designed specifically for a school environment

In an exclusive interview with Ventureburn, Cody Gordon, co-founder, and CEO of It’sOk provides insight into the aims of the tech startup. 

“It’sOk aims‌ ‌to‌ ‌provide‌ ‌students‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌platform to‌ ‌create‌ ‌habits‌ ‌around‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌development‌ ‌by‌ ‌allowing‌ ‌them‌ ‌a‌ ‌safe‌ ‌place‌ ‌to‌ ‌express‌ how‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌feeling,‌ ‌understand‌ ‌why‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌feeling‌ ‌that‌ ‌emotion‌ ‌and‌ ‌learn‌ ‌about‌ ‌how‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌use‌ ‌their‌ ‌emotions‌ ‌constructively.‌ ‌Students‌ ‌also‌ ‌learn‌ ‌that‌ ‌there‌ ‌are‌ ‌certain‌ ‌tools‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌use‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌them,‌ ‌the‌ ‌tools‌ ‌available‌ ‌to‌ ‌students‌ ‌are‌ ‌mindful‌ ‌techniques‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌guided‌ ‌breathing‌ ‌exercises‌ ‌as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌communication‌ ‌platform‌ ‌to‌ ‌reach‌ ‌out‌ ‌to‌ ‌social‌ ‌workers‌ ‌or‌ ‌psychologists‌ ‌if‌ ‌they‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌speak‌ ‌to‌ ‌someone. “

ItsOk ‌‌

Founded in 2019 by South African entrepreneur duo Cody Gordon and Michael Dukes, It’sOk was created to empower students and schools in the field of emotional awareness and intelligence. 

Using state-of-the-art technology, the app is able to provide schools with insightful data analytics representative of their students utilising the app to indicate general emotion levels at the schools. 

“Schools‌ ‌receive‌ ‌multiple‌ ‌data‌ ‌analytic‌ ‌tools‌ ‌that‌ allow‌ ‌them‌ ‌to‌ ‌view‌ ‌the‌ ‌emotion‌ ‌levels‌ ‌as‌ ‌deep‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌grade‌ ‌and‌ ‌class‌ ‌level‌ ‌and‌ ‌understand‌ ‌what‌ ‌their‌ ‌students‌ ‌are‌ ‌feeling‌ ‌and‌ ‌why.‌ ‌This‌ ‌allows‌ ‌the‌ ‌school‌ ‌to‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌that‌ ‌their‌ ‌time‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌are‌ ‌spent‌ ‌addressing‌ ‌the‌ ‌correct‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌issues‌ ‌relevant‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌class‌ ‌and‌ ‌design‌ ‌programmes‌ ‌around‌ ‌the‌ ‌data‌ ‌if‌ ‌need‌ ‌be‌ ‌and‌ ‌make‌ ‌decisions‌ ‌from‌ ‌a‌ ‌mental‌ ‌health‌ ‌perspective.‌ ‌Schools‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌reach‌ ‌out‌ ‌and‌ ‌speak‌ ‌to‌ in-need‌ ‌students,” explains Gordon. 

With a holistic approach in mind, It’sOk is able to provide parents with their own profile to gather a deeper understanding of how their children are feeling and to possibly facilitate a conversation and foster a stronger emotional connection. 

Gordon explains that It’sOk aims to tackle a global issue at the root. ‌‌

The‌ ‌mental‌ ‌health‌ ‌crisis‌ ‌faced‌ ‌by‌ ‌our‌ ‌world.‌ ‌Our‌ ‌adults‌ ‌of‌ ‌this‌ ‌world‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌experiencing‌ ‌mental‌ ‌health‌ ‌issues‌ ‌are‌ ‌our‌ ‌children‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌past‌ ‌who‌ ‌did‌ ‌not‌ ‌receive‌ any‌ ‌education‌ ‌on‌ ‌how‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌use‌ ‌their‌ ‌emotions,‌ ‌of‌ ‌what‌ ‌they‌ ‌mean‌ ‌, and‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌best‌ ‌navigate‌ ‌them.‌ ‌Depression‌ ‌rates‌ ‌are‌ ‌increasing‌ ‌at‌ ‌an‌ ‌all-time‌ ‌high‌ ‌due‌ ‌to‌ ‌various‌ ‌reasons‌ ‌and‌ ‌people‌ ‌are‌ ‌struggling.‌ ‌It’sOk‌ ‌provides‌ ‌the‌ ‌solution‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌starting‌ ‌point‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌mental‌ ‌health‌ ‌crisis‌ ‌to‌ ‌our‌ ‌world‌ ‌because‌ ‌the‌ ‌first‌ ‌step‌ ‌to‌ ‌becoming‌ ‌emotionally‌ ‌intelligent‌ ‌is‌ ‌understanding‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌intelligence‌ ‌exists,‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌It’sOk‌ ‌platform.”

In addition, the platform aims to encourage schools to make decisions from a mental health perspective and make the emotional well-being of their students a priority. 

The easy-to-use mobile app has been optimised to be available on Android, iOs, and Huawei devices. In addition, the app is accessible on both mobile and tablet devices.

According to information shared with Ventureburn, the Gauteng-based tech startup is fully self-funded.

How does it work

The It’sOk app provides three profiles to its users and includes a school‌ ‌profile,‌ ‌a‌ ‌student‌ ‌profile‌ ‌, and‌ ‌a‌ ‌parent‌ ‌profile.‌ 

Currently, the app is only accessible to students and parents that are affiliated with a school that has adopted the app. 

Students are prompted to login into the app with a unique code provided to them. The app provides a step-by-step guide on how to use its features that include selecting how users are feeling from a range of emotion options, learn about the spectrum of emotion users are feeling, and understand why they are feeling this way.‌

‌”Students‌ ‌then‌ ‌receive‌ ‌psychologically‌ ‌certified‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌education‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌them‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌specific emotion‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌feeling,‌ ‌from‌ ‌that‌ ‌point‌ ‌on‌ ‌students‌ ‌have‌ ‌access‌ ‌to‌ ‌various‌ tools‌ ‌to‌ ‌assist‌ ‌them.‌ ‌Once‌ ‌students‌ ‌have‌ ‌finished‌ ‌their‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌journal,‌ ‌self-awareness‌ ‌tools‌ ‌are‌ ‌made‌ ‌available‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌students‌ ‌to‌ ‌analyse‌ ‌and‌ ‌learn‌ ‌more‌ ‌self-awarenesses.‌ ‌Students‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌then‌ ‌access their‌ ‌empathy‌ ‌tool‌ ‌aimed‌ ‌at‌ ‌increasing‌ ‌empathy‌ ‌within‌ ‌the‌ ‌class,” explains Gordon. 

Schools are provided with a unique ‌school‌ ‌code,‌ ‌email‌ ‌, and‌ ‌password with access to multiple data analytic tools to view users’ emotions on a particular day, week, month, or year. Other features include a chat option that allows schools to reach out to students if required.‌

For parents to create an account they must be provided with a school code that is provided by It’sOk and will be provided ‌weekly‌ ‌and‌ ‌daily‌ ‌reports‌ ‌and‌ ‌start‌ ‌to‌ ‌understand‌ ‌how‌ ‌their‌ ‌children‌ ‌are‌ ‌feeling‌ ‌and‌ ‌why.‌ ‌

It’sOk (Supplied)

The app has been implemented at King David Victory Park Primary School and the tech startup claims that more schools are joining each week. 

Gordon provides insight into the experience and findings of students currently utilising the platform. 

“The‌ ‌experience‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌students‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌absolutely‌ ‌amazing.‌ ‌The‌ ‌students‌ ‌love‌ ‌the‌ ‌fact‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌now‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌safe‌ ‌place‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌to‌ and‌ ‌express‌ ‌their‌ ‌emotions‌ ‌and‌ ‌as‌ ‌importantly‌ ‌on‌ ‌a‌ ‌platform‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌comfortable‌ ‌with‌ ‌(mobile).‌ ‌Students‌ ‌love‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌now‌ ‌reflect‌ ‌on‌ ‌their‌ ‌emotions‌ ‌through‌ ‌the‌ ‌various‌ self-awareness‌ ‌tools‌ ‌available to‌ ‌learn‌ ‌about‌ ‌why‌ ‌they‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌feeling‌ ‌the‌ ‌way‌ ‌they‌ ‌are,‌ ‌students‌ ‌also‌ ‌love‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌reach‌ ‌out‌ ‌to‌ ‌someone‌ ‌to‌ ‌let‌ ‌them‌ ‌know‌ ‌how‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌feeling‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌way‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌comfortable‌ ‌with.”

The‌ ‌app‌ ‌has‌ ‌also been‌ ‌implemented‌ ‌in‌ ‌clinical‌ ‌psychology‌ ‌practices‌.

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Featured image: (Left to right) Cody Gordon, CEO and Michale Dukes CTO of It’sOk (Supplied)

Ishani Chetty: Editor
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