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Icelandic health-tech sets up Dublin base as it gets fit for growth

10 Oct 2022

Kara Connect has appointed Irishman John McElligott as its new COO.

An Icelandic health-tech start-up is eyeing growth in Ireland, with plans to create up to 100 new jobs.

Kara Connect is a wellbeing platform that enables employees to access coaching, counselling, therapy and other services from accredited providers. Employers subscribe to the platform and pick how many sessions they’ll provide to staff, then workers can book their own online or in-person appointments.

The start-up, which was founded in 2015, raised $6.3m earlier this year led by a VC fund from Kvika Asset Management.

It said at the time that more than 200,000 people in Iceland and Ireland had already accessed help via the Kara platform, and the fresh financing would be used to support further growth in Europe.

Kara Connect has now appointed Irishman John McElligott as its COO. He will lead the company’s new Irish operation as it looks to target the UK and Ireland, followed by the wider European market.

McElligott, who has previously held roles at eBay, Flutter Entertainment and Smartbox, has been a non-executive director at Kara Connect for nearly two years.

“In the past, employee wellbeing was focused on providing the same experience for everyone,  such as free food, ping-pong tables and wellness lectures,” he said.

“Today, we’re seeing employees increasingly seek support to address specific but variable concerns. Kara Connect enables employers to provide wellbeing services tailored to employees’ individual requirements in total privacy.”

Kara Connect is planning to create up to 100 new jobs in Ireland. It has already begun recruitment and will be creating roles in sales, marketing, client service and finance.

“Ireland will form our operational base to expand into the UK and beyond over the coming years.”

According to the Business Post, Dublin base will be at the Guinness Enterprise Centre in the Liberties. McElligott told the publication that the start-up was looking for a location with a large labour pool, multilingual staff and a “thriving health-tech cluster”.

As the company plots its UK and Ireland expansion, it has signed up health and wellbeing practitioners including nutritionists, psychologists, career coaches and financial counsellors, among others, to provide services to employees.

It already works with clients including Reykjavik Power, Samkaup and Reykjavik University.

Updated, 11.10am, 10 October 2022: This article was updated with additional information from Kara Connect.

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Sarah Harford
By Sarah Harford

Sarah Harford joined Silicon Republic as sub-editor in July 2019, coming from a background in business and tech journalism. When she’s not stressing out about spelling and grammar, she’s usually listening to Abba and arguing about the best way to make tea.

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