Empathie - Inclusive & Accessible Mental Wellness For Asian Americans

Co-founding Empathie, I pioneered the launch of a mobile app offering culturally-responsive mental health strategies, initially targeting Asian Americans. I led our team from a private beta to MVP definition, significantly boosting our waitlist signups by 168%, securing two inclusions in the esteemed Berkeley Skydeck incubator, and achieving a 17% surplus on our product-market fit goal. This success unfolded despite my preference for design-focused roles and aversion to pursuing funding.
Product Design Lead & Co-founder
12 months (Jan - Present)
Core Responsibilities
Research, visual design, IXD, product strategy, product management


Addressing cultural stress and accessibility barriers in mental health support for Asian Americans

Asian Americans navigate unique mental stress and have limited culturally informed resources. These challenges, rooted in cultural dynamics and expectations, ignited the inception of Empathie during my UC Berkeley Master of Design program.
Cultural and psychological stress
Mistrust and accessibility issues
Anxiety spiked due toAsian hate crimes on the elderly
Skeptism towards resources, such as cultural relatability


Develop a mobile app to provide accessible, credible, and culturally resonant mental health support to Asian Americans

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.


Personalized, engaging, and culturally relevant mental health strategies via a self-guided mobile app, prioritizing user-friendly design and accessibility

We developed this MVP solution after shipping 3 iterations of our private beta and conducting several rounds of Kano Model feature prioritization testing — providing focus on our feature set. In collaboration Stanford Ph.D AI expert, our clinical director, and our CTO, I designed and developed a more complex ML content personalization model to address cultural complexities beyond just Asian American identities. This was my Master of Design thesis at UC Berkeley.
View thesis
Personalized mental health journey
Offer step-by-step videos and activities, making mental health learning digestible and tailored
Incorporating mood check-ins
Incorporate mood check-ins to encourage consistent interaction with the app.
Cultural responsiveness
Ensure content creation by licensed Asian American therapists to validate and uplift the unique experiences of users.


Achieved product-market fit and substantially increased waitlist signups, although Empathie eventually dissolved, resources were repurposed for public good

Empathie significantly increased waitlist signups by 168% and twice secured a spot at Berkeley Skydeck. Over 60% of users expressed disappointment at the idea of no longer using the app, surpassing our goal by 17%. Although the venture dissolved, its mental health resources remain publicly accessible, and we are exploring non-profit partnerships.
View free content


Working alongside therapists to develop relatable and culturally sensitive mental health content, iteratively enhancing engagement and relevancy

Our dedicated team established a streamlined educational framework for effectively conveying mental health concepts and strategies. Through rigorous user testing cycles, we continuously refined our learning content.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Coordinate topic
Design content creation framework
Provide feedback
Prepare content

Beta testing

Leveraged a no-code mobile app to swiftly conduct user testing, eventually surpassing product-market fit goals by 17%

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

Identified issues like emotional overload and navigational challenges, sparking revisions to video length and content navigation

Confronting video fatigue: even 5-minute segments tested viewer patience
Navigation frustrations: the inability to bypass mental health tips hindered user autonomy
Navigating emotional toll: deep reflections on past traumas exhausted users

Iteration 2

Enhanced user satisfaction by segmenting mental health content and diversifying activities, yet faced challenges in sustaining video engagement

Struggling with engagement: even shortened videos minimally retained attention
Expanding therapeutic activities: partnered with therapists to lighten emotional labor
The unexpected hero: personalized content outperforms gamification in maintaining motivation

Iteration 3

Achieved product-market fit signals by integrating interactive video journeys, affirming efficacy in meeting user goals for self-awareness and anxiety reduction

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.
Elevating value through tailored experiences: basic personalization distinguishes us from competitors
User hunger for variety: a clear demand surfaces for more diverse topic offerings

Feature prioritization

Shifting our focus from mental health beginners to those with intermediate knowledge

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 feature prioritization survey
Quantitative analysis

Design system

Creating a design system and illustration library from scratch

Our graphic designer created an initial set of illustrations — setting direction for me to create the rest of the illustration library. I designed all components and organized the illustration library.


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.


Reflecting on the transformative journey, acknowledging learnings, understanding the implications of financial stability

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.