Interview with Danila De Stefano, Founder and CEO of Unobravo
March 22, 2022
Interview with Danila De Stefano, Founder and CEO of Unobravo, an online psychotherapy service.
Psychology – said Giacomo Leopardi – is the science of feelings, passions and the human heart. That’s why, especially in such a delicate and fragile period as the pandemic, psychology becomes one of the main tools to regain the idea of serenity that seems to be lost. And it must inevitably be the prerogative of everyone.
Unobravo was born with this mission: to provide people easy access to psychological paths through the use of technology.
What is Unobravo and how it works
Unobravo is a web platform where people can find registered professional psychologists and ask them for an online consultation in a simple, fast and safe way.
After completing a questionnaire and signing up, users can access a private area where they will be put in contact with his “Unobravo”, that is, the perfect therapist for him or her. In fact, the questionnaire has the function to better understand what is the most suitable profile for the needs of those who are looking for a psychologist. That is why it is very important to fill out the test being as honest as possible!
Your first interview that you will do on “Unobravo” is totally free. It will help you get to know your therapist and get in touch with this new experience. If you feel comfortable with the therapist you have been assigned, you can decide whether to continue the process and pay for your interviews with the payment method you prefer.
The platform prices are transparent, so you will always know how much you will pay for each booking:
- The first interview is totally free
- The price of the following ones is 45€ for the individual one and 55€ for the couple interview.
Wonderful, isn’t it?
If you want to know more about how Unobravo works or if you are a psychologist who wants to join the team, read the interview with Danila De Stefano.
Hi Danila, nice to meet you and thank you for your time. Unobravo: would you like to share this great story with us?
Thank you very much for being interested in our company! Unobravo is the innovative online psychology service that aims to be a reliable, competent and empathetic reference point in people’s lives, to help them achieve their psychological well-being and support them in their personal growth. It is a portal that has revolutionized the model of traditional psychotherapy by building a network of over 1300 professional psychologists who operate remotely, performing sessions in video calls.
It was born with the idea of addressing Italians living abroad and who needed psychological support at a distance, following the pandemic emergency, the service has seen an evolution of its perspectives: Unobravo allows, in fact, to carry out the therapy from the comfort of every home sofa, ensuring maximum comfort and flexibility. Thanks to an innovative algorithm, exclusively owned by the company, the matching process between the patient and the most suitable therapist is carried out for needs, character affinities and preferences. Not only that: to democratize more and more a sector that is often prohibitive for its costs, we offer a lowered price that allows even the youngest to be able to afford psychological support even for several sessions.
How and when was the idea of Unobravo born?
The idea of Unobravo is the result of a personal experience I had. After graduating from University and moving to the United Kingdom, I started working as an educator in a psychiatric nursing home in 2016; the stressful situation between work and settling in a new country, has given me the need to turn to a psychologist but, at the same time, I had to face several obstacles including exorbitant costs required for the sessions and the long waiting lists of professionals available. I wondered how the Italians abroad behaved when they needed a psychologist but they could not access one. So later I started to propose myself as a remote psychological support for other expat Italians like me, self-promoting on several Facebook groups: the requests came immediately and numerous, my agenda was so incredibly full of appointments that I started to send these patients to other colleagues, because I could not accept other patients. I created a very simple website, put together a team of 9 psychologists and the service started to grow. Thanks to the support of my colleagues Corena Pezzella and Valeria Fiorenza Perris, today respectively HR Manager and Clinical Director of Unobravo, and Gregorio Maria Diodovich, today COO, the service began to take the shape of a real startup company.
How long did it take to give life to the project?
Initially, the team consisted of nine psychologists. I was personally in charge of all aspects such as the site, the company logo and the marketing side. This was until the social impact startup incubator, SocialFare, selected us for an acceleration program: in the following four months we saw the evolution into a real innovative entrepreneurial project. Specifically, we all developed a totally different mindset. I was fascinated by the new world of startups and that’s why I wanted Unobravo to grow so much and so quickly. On our side, we had the numbers that confirmed the functioning of the project: we started with 40 patients up to a thousand in September 2020 with a team of 70 therapists; today the company counts a team of over 1500 psychologists, 20 thousand patients for 30 thousand sessions per month, more than 250,000 sessions provided in total in two years. A growth that requires the expansion of the core team from four to 85 people.
How can a psychologist collaborate with your company?
Becoming part of the Unobravo team is simple: the therapist can send his or her application through the appropriate online form on our website. It is then our internal HR team to carry out an accurate selection aimed at understanding if the identified professional has the right characteristics for an optimal online therapy. This point is fundamental because the web is a jungle, in which it is often difficult to juggle the various professionals. We currently select about 15% of the total applications we receive. As a guarantee of the service we have chosen to offer to our users and partners, we also carry out constant monitoring through a technological system and a supervisory team, to ensure the high quality of the therapies and to be able to intervene if problems arise.
With Unobravo, freelance psychologists also have the opportunity to grow from a professional and personal point of view: in addition to continuous training opportunities, comparison through interviews and empowerment, we offer benefits including yoga services, Free online fitness and live meeting moments.
In these two difficult years, the topic of psychology seems to have cleared the air. There is less shame in seeking out a psychologist or saying you are on a psychological track. Does it seem that way to you? And how much can technology help make psychology more and more a plus rather than a source of shame?
The complex period that we have faced has certainly taken on an accelerating role in several aspects: the topic of mental health has become, in fact, something we can talk about more freely than it was a few years ago. Everything we have experienced – lockdown, disruption of daily routine, fear of contagion, etc.. – has caused many people to approach their own mental well-being or that of their loved ones in a totally different way than they did in the past. Mental and physical well-being are still treated with different weights and measures, but I believe we are approaching the breaking of an age-old taboo.
Another observation concerns the technological aspect related to online therapy: our experience has taught us that, in front of a PC, the patient opens up more quickly and has fewer inhibitory brakes. What happens is what I call the “screen effect” and in this way the creation of a trust-based atmosphere of intimacy allows the establishment of a solid therapeutic alliance between patient and psychologist, which is fundamental for a profitable path of therapy.
How did you launch your project? Did you use crowdfunding campaigns?
No, we didn’t use crowdfunding campaigns. When I started I had a share capital of 5,000 euro; only after being selected by SocialFare we saw the evolution into a real innovative business project, thanks also to the first 150.000 euro investment concluded with “Cassa Depositi e Prestiti” and the startup accelerator SocialFare. We used the capital to develop the tech aspects, the marketing area and to carry out the right investments that allowed us to become a company capable of supporting itself in total economic autonomy, despite the scale up goals.
Since last year, we also decided to expand the business by involving companies on the health of their employees, through individual or group sessions, thematic focus and training courses for employees.
Just curious: do you also use Unobravo?
The Unobravo project was born mainly as a result of my need, while I was in London, to look for a professional who could help me in overcoming a complex period. I can confirm that therapists do turn to other colleagues, not only as supervision during their professional career, but also in their private lives. I myself have undergone several therapies in my life, and many Unobravo employees, sooner or later, start using our own service. It is convenient, easy to access and guarantees high quality of service.