I lost 11 friends — all founders of Silicon Valley startups — to suicide in 2018.

There is no doubt that entrepreneurs, executives, and team members face increased pressures as a result of running startups that result in self-destructive behaviors. As I explained in my keynote at TechChill 2019, founders are 2X more likely to have suicidal thoughts, 3X more likely to resort to substance abuse, and 10X more likely to have bipolar disorder.

As coping mechanisms go, meditation and mindfulness are some of the most accessible and useful, according to research. One founder — who has been affected by these issues in the past — is tackling the problem with HypnoBox.

The app takes a slightly different approach than the current crop of meditation apps — it provides guided self-hypnosis, and not just for mental health issues.

Founded by Bernhard Tewes, a hypnotherapist from Berlin, Germany, HypnoBox is now available in the English language. Before founding HypnoBox, Tewes worked as an event manager Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Museum. However, the higher he climbed the career ladder, the more downhill it went for him, both physically and psychologically.

Severe addictions started to rise to the point where substances almost got the better of him, including alcohol abuse.

“At that time, I also smoked like a chimney,” Tewes said. “That gave me chronic gastritis, which sometimes was so bad that I couldn’t even brush my teeth in the mornings without retching.”

Fortunately for Tewes, he met a hypnotherapist that moved into his building.

“I‘ve never had anything to do with hypnosis before, but he explained everything to me,” Tewes said. “And even after the first session, I was completely smoke-free. I was totally liberated.“

HypnoBox has been available since 2017 for German-language users and has been a passion project for Tewes from the outset.

“It took almost a year to find the right programmers for the project,” Tewes said. “I went with the idea of a modular system for the app and from agency to agency what I often heard was what is not possible. Luckily I ended up with a programmer who came up with solutions instead of problems, which is exactly my way of thinking.”

It then took significant time and resources to develop the content, especially since HypnoBox is designed to help not just with substance abuse and giving up self-destructive behaviors, but also topics such as confidence, weight loss, and success.

“I started writing more and more suggestions and stayed for some weeks in a cabin in the German Alps to be focussed and creative,” Tewes said. “In all, it took about three years from the decision to create the app until the first release.”

On launching HypnoBox, the app suggests that the user starts with any of the pre-defined sessions, four of which are free of charge. Speakers guide the user through the program, putting them into a suggestible state where they can better receive the app’s advice and support.

Users can also create custom sessions to help meet their specific needs, and the app makes building these simple and accessible.

So what’s next for Hypnobox, which recently landed $250,000 in funding, and how will the app evolve to help those in need?

“My vision always was to create a self-hypnosis tool which is easy and cheap to use for everyone worldwide,” Tewes said. “That is why we offer features like recording and importing of your own suggestions for free. We are already working on the Spanish version, and we plan to add more languages and new content, making HypnoBox the tool worldwide for effective self-hypnosis.”

HypnoBox is available for free for iOS and Android with in-app purchases for additional content.