Smiling Mind

Cogent Team:
Product strategy, design and development 

Project Timeframe:
6 weeks

About Smiling Mind 


Leading not-for-profit in the preventative mental health space, Smiling Mind, was founded in 2012 to provide Australians with accessible lifelong tools that help every mind to thrive. 

The well-respected Smiling Mind app has over 5 million downloads worldwide. It offers meditation programs and activities developed by psychologists and educators, as well as both online and face-to-face programs for schools and workplaces, and toolkits for parents and carers.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, Smiling Mind has seen unprecedented demand for its services, including a 137% increase in monthly active users year-on-year. The team also developed an in-app wellbeing check-in tool in early 2020, helping users in the midst of the pandemic. 

This has since had over 350K subscribers to the wellbeing check-in, and over 5.4M wellbeing answers. 


Given their increasing user base, Smiling Mind engaged Cogent to help achieve two goals. The first was to build a digital platform that could be used by teachers in school settings. The second was to create more efficient and scalable core technology for the brand’s suite of digital apps.

Smiling Mind needed to research and scope a prototype of the schools’ platform with teachers,  and build it in time to meet a swell in market demand. 

The challenge lay in scaling the organisation’s internal technology team swiftly and effectively to meet these goals.

COVID-19 provided the background to both projects, so the Cogent team was engaged in a 100% remote capacity due to Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions. 

“The engagement with Cogent has been a great success in terms of their ability to get in and help with setting technical direction, but also showcasing for the business all of the great foundational work that we're working on as well.”

Nick Cust, CPO Smiling Mind


The project began with an early discovery phase. Here, Cogent worked with the internal team to research the needs of students and teachers, as well as the kinds of technologies that were already being used in classrooms. Next was a technological assessment, which involved thorough research of technologies that had the capabilities to scale with the business and its users’ needs well into the future. 

“The Cogent team members brought a lot to the table around API architecture, how we use and leverage our AWS stack and cloud-based architecture,” Nick explains. “They played a key role in the design for how we manage content and how we could then integrate that with various content APIs,” Nick said.

Given the project was undertaken in the midst of COVID-19, these unprecedented circumstances presented their own unique challenges. 

“I haven’t actually met all of the Cogent people in person. It takes skill to be able to just drop in, not meet anyone and be able to work as a cohesive team from both sides. The people we’ve had from Cogent have been able to do that — and certainly add to improving the processes and experiences that we go through,” Nick shared.

Despite not being able to visit the Smiling Mind offices in person, Cogent fit effortlessly into the team’s six-week agile development cycles. “Cogent brought a lot to the table in terms of retrospectives and improvements to the team processes,” Nick adds. “The Cogent team has brought a lot of the technical architecture and technical tooling decision-making. They were a great support in that respect.”

“We’re a new breed of NFP, one that focuses on best practice product development, technology and data. We want people who actually input and improve the processes that we use, but also team members who embrace product development and customer centric thinking, in-line with ourselves. Cogent fits that need.”

Nick Cust, CPO Smiling Mind


The schools’ product was developed in the midst of COVID-19, and is now undergoing early beta testing. 

“That’s a great step for us considering all of the changes we’ve had in the education system over this period. We’re now in a position where we can begin to get that tested into real market conditions. It’s a great key result, as it was important for us to get it into the market early for discovery purposes.”

The work on the organisation’s core technologies is also on target. “We’re probably a third of the way through our app redevelopment piece at the moment. It’s going to be a fantastic step forward for the business.”

And beyond these goals? Nick says improving retention rates by shaping Smiling Mind’s products to drive behavioural change is the next big focus. 

“I feel the Cogent team have played a key role in helping build a new app experience that will allow us to innovate at a speed necessary to drive quicker feedback loops and ultimately, provide our users with a product that can continues to improve their life,” Nick concluded

“The Cogent team has been fantastic in terms of being on the front foot, and being open and transparent - being involved in our regular cadences as well.“

Nick Cust, CPO Smiling Mind

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