Empathie - Cultivating Inclusive & Accessible Mental Wellness For Asian Americans

Empathie, a company I co-founded, is a self-guided and culturally responsive mobile app for gaining mental health strategies — starting first with Asian Americans before expanding to other intersectional identities. I helped ship and test our private beta, which helped us define the MVP with the business goal of achieving product-market fit. I led and collaborated with a team of therapists, engineers, and designers. I realized that I prefer having financial stability and more focused design responsibilities that don't involve securing funding.
Product Design Lead & Co-founder
12 months (Jan - Present)
Core Responsibilities
User research, visual design, IXD, product strategy, product management


Asian Americans experience heightened stress, often due to cultural influences like hypercritical parenting, yet encounter difficulties in effectively coping with it

How we grow up impacts the way we navigate the world and view ourselves. In the case above, many Asian Americans might feel stress from feeling like they're never enough.

Empathie's journey began in a product management course during my Master of Design program at UC Berkeley. Focused on uncovering unsolved issues, I was drawn to the underrepresentation of mental health for racial minorities.


Asian Americans may hesitate to trust mental health resources due to concerns regarding their credibility and the perceived mental effort required to utilize them.

Based on over 50 interviews, we learned that credibility can be based a mental health professional's education or shared understanding and upbringing of cultural experiences. Time spent in finding and going to therapy or reading books are perceived as energy-draining.
Reddit (online forum)
Instagram (Social Media)
Betterhelp (Therapy)
In January '22, my co-founder/CTO and I transformed Empathie into a company and embarked on a series of over 50 user interviews to validate our initial hypothesis. Within our team at Empathie, Francois, our Product Designer, and I took on the responsibility of conducting these user interviews.


Evaluate product-market fit by creating an affordable, accessible, and culturally relevant mental health app that offers credible stress management advice via videos and activities

Addressing the scarcity of diverse therapists, I enlisted licensed Asian American therapists to create original mental health content, ensuring accessibility and inclusivity in support.
Limited therapist diversity hampers scalability of 1:1 therapy
Enhance scalability with diverse therapists through on-demand videos and activities.


Collaboratively crafted captivating and relatable mental health learning content in partnership with therapists

Our dedicated team established a streamlined educational framework for effectively conveying mental health concepts and strategies. Through rigorous user testing cycles (see next section), we continuously refined our learning content.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Coordinate topic with therapist
Provide framework for generating content
Provide feedback
Prepare content for mobile app

Validation For Product-Market Fit

Surpassing product-market fit goals by 17%, we leveraged a no-code mobile app I designed and built, despite technical and design limitations

To swiftly gather feedback from 50 users within 1-2 weeks, I developed and tested a no-code app over three iterations, adhering to the constraints of Glide app's guidelines. Prior to implementation, we brainstormed and refined a streamlined structure to host our introductory mental health content.
Limited UI + functionality based on no-code provider
Spreadsheets that help capture user data and feedback
Design explorations (by Francois Yap, Product Designer), based on Glide app feasibility, to create no-code app's structure for housing our mental health learning content

Iteration 1

We discovered that our mental health videos and activities were emotionally intense, lengthy, and challenging to navigate

Overwhelming video length: Though we aimed to keep videos 5 minutes or less, people still felt the videos were too long.
Difficult to navigate: Users didn't have the option to skip past the mental health tips portion. Some preferred learning the context before deciding what actions to take on their own.

Emotional overload: Users felt exhausted from reflecting deeply on past events that were sometimes traumatic.

Iteration 2

Satisfaction increased after breaking up mental health content into shorter sections and offering a wider variety of activities, but users still expressed a lack of engagement with the video topics

Video experience doesn't sustain engagement: Shortened chunks of video improved attention spans minimally.
Improved range of activities in addition to learning: Collaborated with therapists to develop activities that were less emotionally laborious.

Personalized content trumps gamification for user motivation: While gamification initially provided motivation through point systems, its long-term rewards diminished. Users discovered that the "for you" section streamlined the search for relevant mental health content.

Iteration 3

Signals of product-market fit achieved through interactive video journey for mental health

Our user evaluations revealed exceptional results in achieving common user goals, like self-awareness and anxiety reduction. Utilizing the Sean Ellis test, we surpassed our target goal by 17%, confirming a strong product-market fit. This pivotal milestone enabled us to develop a scalable mobile app, capable of handling advanced features (customized notifications, ML personalization, etc.) beyond the capabilities of the previous app.
Basic personalization increases product value: Users felt this culturally responsive-based personalization created more differentiation from other competitors
Demand for more topics: Displayed topics were limited due to need for testing a few before standardizing the rest


Prioritizing personalized and step-by-step videos and activities in addition to mood check-ins for iOS/Android MVP

In collaboration with our CTO, we strategically identified key features based on insights from a Kano Model feature prioritization survey involving 100 participants during previous private beta testing. By analyzing demographic data, we discovered that our product resonated most with Asian Americans who possess intermediate knowledge of mental health strategies, rather than beginners.
Kano Model quantitative analysis
Kano Model feature prioritization survey
Ann Kim (Product Designer @ Empathie) led usability testing and minor improvements over time. I collaborated with Sophia Lee (Content Design intern) to create the UX writing below while I co-created illustrations (Briana Tran, freelance Graphic Designer). To ensure technical and UX feasibility, I worked closely with our CTO, considering the limitations imposed by Flutter, the iOS/Android platform's developer guidelines.
User signup and onboarding
Accessing step-by-step mental health content (videos and activities)
Mood check-in to encourage frequent re-engagement
Step-by-step video journeys


To catalyze self-empowerment and balance for racial minorities by becoming the go-to mental wellness education resource

Collaborating with the PM intern and advisor, I drove the product vision and principles — prioritizing inclusivity, approachability, simplicity, accessibility, and insightfulness. To guide our MVP and future iterations, I led a design sprint involving our engineering lead, Clinical Director, and a team of designers to develop a compelling vision.
Product principles to guide design for MVP and beyond
Design sprint
Our design sprint yielded remarkable results. I took charge of the accountability experience, Ann Kim (PD) owned the activities experience, and Francois Yap (PD) guided the learning experience. Moreover, I led our team's coordination efforts.


Significantly boosted waitlist signups by 168% through showcasing Empathie's public beta features

Achieving a remarkable 168% increase in waitlist signups on Empathie's website served as a compelling validation of our product-market fit. This traction propelled us to secure two coveted spots at the esteemed Berkeley Skydeck incubator, along with multiple grants.

Leveraging the valuable insights gathered from our private beta testing (refer to "Validation" section), we integrated those research findings into our MVP/public beta designs and mental health learning content. Currently, our MVP/public beta is nearing completion, with approximately 50% of the development process finished.

Empathie dissolved in early 2022, but our videos and activities are now accessible on Notion as a free public good. We're currently discussing partnerships with non-profits to deliver this to all audiences.
View free content
Leveraging Briana Tran's initial illustrations, I spearheaded the development of our comprehensive illustration library and took charge of crafting a cohesive design system for our mobile app.
Design system for tokens, components, and base frames + illustration library
Through a collaboration with the New Business Community Law Clinic at Berkeley Law, our co-founding team worked on establishing vital components like privacy policies, therapist contracts, and more to ensure a successful product launch. This experience provided valuable insights into the comprehensive journey of bringing a product from ideation to fruition and the far-reaching implications involved.
Many iterations of our privacy policy draft for end users


Through the dissolution of Empathie, just before its public beta launch (at 50% completion), I discovered an unwavering passion for building both products and teams from the ground up

Starting as a mere idea, I initially doubted my ability to cultivate a team and develop a product from scratch. Yet, in a mere six months, the founding team expanded to three members, while our overall team grew to encompass over 18 talented individuals spanning marketing, design, product, engineering, and clinical fields (including therapists).

We were honored to receive the Hack for Mental Health award from Microsoft and secured a place in Berkeley Skydeck's incubator, along with winning several grants. Notably, we partnered with my former employer, Dropbox, for a mental wellness event specifically tailored to our Asian affinity group.

Throughout this transformative journey, I learned to embrace my strength in challenging the norm and embracing my authentic self, unafraid of the perceived foolishness of my ideas. Amidst tears, insecurities, and fears of failure, I allowed my unwavering passion for creating tangible change to propel me forward. Those who supported us could feel the intensity of my passion, ultimately finding themselves moved by its undeniable force.
Team bonding event with Empathie team
Partnering with Dropbox
Keynote speaker at Stanford
During my intense 1.5+ year journey as a full-time entrepreneur, primarily dedicated to my design bootcamp business at Product Design Fam, the weight of financial uncertainties and anxieties took a toll on my mental well-being. Simultaneously, I discovered a powerful truth about myself — I thrive when immersing myself in the realms of design and product development, rather than spreading my focus across business, legal matters, and seeking funding opportunities.

Although Empathie, our venture, received accolades and recognition, the recent economic downturn had a profound impact on our team members' priorities. Acquiring the necessary startup funding has become increasingly challenging, directly impeding Empathie's potential for success.Through these experiences, I have grown and learned invaluable lessons, both personally and professionally. They have sharpened my passion and unwavering commitment to pursuing design excellence while reinforcing the importance of financial stability for sustainable growth.