RISE UP finalists Niamh Buchanan and Melanie Lynn co-founded WellNow - a digital marketplace that connects people looking for last minute health and wellness appointments to practitioners with availability, providing patients with better access to and ownership of healthcare. With a background in market research and strategy, Niamh manages WellNow's brand and customer experience. Co-founder Melanie has deep experience in ecommerce and SaaS businesses so looks after product and technology.

How did the idea for WellNow come about?

Niamh experienced the frustration of finding health and wellness appointments herself at the end of 2021 and thought ‘it shouldn’t be this hard.’ She approached Melanie to float the idea and the business was officially set up.

What do you love most about being a business founder?

So much!  Being an all-female founder team. Daily problem solving and critical thinking. Constant learning and upskilling. Being the masters of our own destiny. Working on a purposeful business with a vision to impact the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders for the better. Working with our wonderful providers and customers. Being part of great founder programmes like Soda and having an office in the Ministry of Awesome space in Christchurch. The great community that surrounds founders and entrepreneurs with other inspiring founders and mentors who give of their valuable time.

What has been your biggest challenge so far in your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome it?

Bringing a NZ new concept to the market, for providers and customers and others saying, 'it's too hard’ to change or innovate. We have learnt to have unwavering belief in the value we can add to the NZ health system, so this ends up also being a highlight really!

What’s a business highlight you’re proud of?

A highlight for us was actually launching the business at the end of 2022. You research, plan and build for so long, testing along the way. But to be able to tell people "We did it! WellNow is live. Go check it out"…was a big milestone for us.

What or who inspires you?

Other female founders and working in a business with purpose, focused on making a positive impact. It’s what gets us excited every day and makes it a little easier to sacrifice some time with family and friends for the bigger cause.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Keep hustling!

Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs?

Just go for it, you’ll never know unless you try. We need more females flying the successful startup flag. Reach out to female focused programmes and other female entrepreneurs for support and advice. This will provide a good support system to manage business and life.

How do you unwind outside of work?

Mel: I definitely try to maintain a bit of work/life balance these days. I love morning exercise before the rest of the house wakes up - yoga, going for a run, or early morning walk at the beach. Being able to spend time with friends and family on the weekends and getting outside is key.

Niamh: I like to spend time with my family and friends, ideally outside in nature - hiking/tramping (particularly to waterfalls), bike rides and playing on the beach. I also like to ocean ‘dip’ with friends (even through winter), walk/run and try and stretch regularly for general wellness.

What three things can’t you live without?

Mel: Coffee, yoga and sunshine!

Niamh: Family, friends and the startup life!

If you won RISE UP, what would you use the money for?

Building brand awareness as part of our nationwide launch.

RISE UP 2023 is proudly sponsored by Callaghan Innovation.

Get your FREE ticket to our RISE UP Pitch Night in Hamilton on 29 August 2023.