What’s in a name? Bolster is Born. 

By Ben, co-founder of Bolster

They say having your own business is like having a child.  So taking into account my two sons, Thomas and Joseph, last week I became a dad of three when Bolster was born.

It stands to reason then that naming your business is also a very similar experience to naming your kids.  It’s a big decision.  Huge. You want it to be memorable.  You want it to be easy to say and spell (just ask one of our Zinc Co-founders called Padraic - pronounced Porek).  You and the other parent both need to love this name, and of course you need to feel like the name embodies something incredible. Something that lives up to all the hopes and dreams you have for your child.

Now naming my children has never been easy.  Having been told at 12 weeks that we were expecting a girl, Thomas was in fact Lola until he popped out to give us all a big surprise in July 2011.  Joseph on the other hand was a little more straightforward, (a 3D scan at 32 weeks saw to that), however even with him there was much debate.

But with a digital brand today, it’s even harder. Finding an available URL can be the equivalent of ensuring no one in your child’s generation anywhere shares their name.  So this is where the compromise often comes in.  A workaround.  A prefix of “join” or “we are”, or even an .ai or an .io at the end.  It’s the equivalent of the odd middle name for a child. Just ask Will A B Tanner.

So with all this in mind and after a week or so of firing names back and forth (some pretty good, but some absolutely terrible), it became clear that a bit of external help to expedite matters might not go a miss.  

An hour or two with the guys at Pretty Green, the marketing agency behind the rise of Nandos, Under Armour and Maxi Nutrition, did the trick.  They took us through a naming process that they’ve developed for other clients and whilst it doesn’t name your business for you, it does at least provide a framework within which you can generate and organise your thoughts.

There are 6 categories:

1. Product Offering
Words that very literally articulate what your product delivers
E.g. Volkswagen, which is “People’s Car” in German

2. Origin
A name inspired by where your journey began? How did you meet? Where did you meet? Who/what was your inspiration?
E.g. Adobe was named after The Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of co-founder John Warnock.

3. Mythical/Fictional
Named after a mythical character that reflects your challenge or your product
E.g. Nike, the Greek goddess of victory

4. Made up
Often a new word created by more than one associated word smashed together
E.g. Vodafone - voice, data, phone

5. Lateral connections
A mood, feeling, or state that reflects your values
E.g. Innocent Smoothies

6. Founder’s names
A name that uses the name of the founder(s)*
E.g. Walmart was named after its founder Sam Walton.

*I always found this last one a little egotistical, but nonetheless during desperate times I found myself suggesting Willben!

This structured way of thinking was really useful for Will and I (thank you Pretty Green), and as of last week we named our business. We are really happy with where we ended up.

Subjectively the name might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s where a few other similarities with your children come in. Like a child, it is how a brand behaves in the world that defines who they are, far more than their name. And of course, even after as little as a week, you look back and realise that despite all the umming and ahhing, they could never have been called anything else, after all.

So meet the latest addition to my family: Bolster, the online community for people supporting someone they love. 

And the URL... www.joinbolster.com



Will Tanner

Empowering the supporters of people experiencing mental ill-health

By Will, co-founder of Bolster

Hands up if someone close to you has suffered from mental ill-health. Me too. And my co-founder Ben. In fact, pretty much everyone we both know has a brother, sister, parent, partner or friend who has experienced a period of mental ill-health.

This isn’t surprising. Statistically, one in four people suffer mental ill-health at some point in their life, meaning every extended family and friendship group will contain at least one person who has experienced some form of distress. If you’re lucky enough to have avoided mental ill-health yourself, you will very likely have a loved one who hasn’t been so fortunate.

If so, you’ll know how hard it can be to support someone through the turbulence of mental ill-health. To see someone you love struggle with depression or anxiety, harm themselves, or suffer periodic episodes over which they have little control.

It can be hard to talk about, even more difficult to know where to turn, and seemingly impossible to tackle. As a family member or friend, you can feel responsible, resentful, guilty or rejected, perhaps all at the same time. You yourself can develop mental health issues, due to the stresses and strains of caregiving. And given most people still don’t talk about mental ill-health particularly openly, it can feel like you are all alone in the struggle.

But you are not alone. If prevalence rates in the US hold more generally, there are 97 million parents of 10–19 year olds suffering from anxiety in the developed world, 40 million whose child self harms, and 8 million parents of a child with an eating disorder. If you include partners, friends, siblings and other family, the number quickly approaches a billion people going through the same lived experiences.

However, the services and networks that exist for supporters are often fragmented, informal and secondary to services for sufferers themselves. While charities like Young Minds, Student Minds and The Mix have fantastic helplines and forums for parents and friends, there is no community for supporters. Where in-person peer support groups do exist, they are organised informally and only offer intermittent support. Online forums and Facebook groups provide a great resource for some, but can be unreliable, hard to find and, if not carefully monitored, actively damaging. The net result is millions of people desperate to help a loved one but without the knowledge and connections to do so.

This is the problem that we are setting out to solve through Bolster, a new online community for people supporting someone they love.

We want to empower the friends and family of those suffering from mental ill-health, giving them the practical guidance and emotional reassurance that can only come from a community of people with the same lived experiences. A safe destination, so that people know where to turn when someone they know falls ill. A community of supporters who, together, tackle mental illness in those they love.

In doing so, we want to learn from the best online communities and draw on the best research. We have been inspired by new communities like Mush, the local social network for mums, and the growth of established brands like Bumble. And we have been lucky enough to spend time with a number of world-leading academics, including Janet Treasure from the Maudsley, Nicola Byrom from King's and Farhana Mann from UCL. As we develop Bolster, we hope to continue to work with them, and apply the lessons from their research to our platform.

Our vision is for a world where every parent, child, sibling, friend and partner feels equipped and supported to best care for a loved one in need. Join us to help make it a reality.

There are lots of ways you can help:

  1. Sign up here to join Bolster and follow our progress.

  2. Tell your friends about us and share with anyone you know supporting someone through the turbulence of mental ill-health. 

  3. Come to one of our upcoming events for people supporting someone experiencing mental ill-health.

  4. Tell us about your experiences by filling out our 3 minute survey

  5. Invest in Bolster. We are looking for investors for our upcoming seed round. Click here to email us directly.


Thanks to the Zinc team, in particular Dr Rachel Carey, Ella Goldner and Paul Kirby, for their comments on this article and their support for Ben and I as we have developed the concept for Bolster. Zinc is a new company builder to create businesses to solve the world’s biggest problems, and has been invaluable in our development.

Note: We amended this post to better reflect the services provided by Young Minds, Student Minds and The Mix