About my secondment: Oliver Vickers

In 2021, Oliver Vickers (University of Leeds) was awarded a three month secondment opportunity with You Understood, a technology start-up aiming to improve mental health and wellbeing through the creation of a mobile app. Here he describes his experience through blog entries from before, during and after the placement:

Aims and objectives

My placement is with You Understood; an app developer looking to build a mobile app that will track the emotions and moods of its users. By using artificial intelligence and data analytics the app aims to feed back insights to the user on patterns in their behaviour and mental wellbeing.

As this is a digital technology-led start-up, I am hoping to gain valuable experience in how a start-up company is formed and successfully run. Furthermore, it will give me the refreshing opportunity to work on a new project and give me the chance to broaden my field of knowledge. I’d also like the opportunity to translate my knowledge and experience from my involvement in mental health schemes and initiatives, into a commercially available app that will provide comfort and benefit to its user.

Work in progress

The task I have been assigned involves researching and developing the application of gamification into the app. Now, gamification is a crude term to describe a method that retains the attention of the user and incentivises their continued use of the app.

One of the main themes of the app is that by actively tracking their mental health the user is making a conscious effort to make a better version of themselves. The app is data driven; data is inputted by the user and so the more data gathered on the user the more worthwhile the outputs. Therefore, maintaining the user’s interest and sustained use of the app is a very crucial aspect of the app’s design.


I have now completed my placement with You Understood. My final assignment was to present to the entire team what I had researched and learnt about gamification and how it could be included within the app. I also pitched some ideas I had formulated that would improve the user experience and provide more value to the users.

I really enjoyed the placement and felt my voice was heard and opinion valued. I was also grateful of the opportunity to experience work in an early-stage tech led start-up and see how such a company is structured and run.