Entrepreneur Spotlight
Matt Kandler in a red collared button up
Photo: Melissa Siskind
Matt Kandler ’10’s Happyfeed encourages a simple, daily habit to improve mental health.

A Happier Feed

by Katie Williard

Like most entrepreneurs, Matt Kandler ’10 didn’t succeed on his first try — and his failure led to his success.

Inspired by robotics research under Professor Keith Buffinton, mechanical engineering, Kandler headed to Stanford after graduation, where he initially intended to continue his work in robotics. But the buzz of the tech boom shifted the mechanical engineering major’s focus to design, and he eventually found himself on the well-worn path to “ideas that every young startup hopeful has that never work.”

As he grappled with failure and defined his next steps, he leaned on a research-backed practice grounded in positive psychology: gratitude journaling, the habit of recording and reflecting on things that one is grateful for on a regular basis.

His efforts to preserve his peace of mind in the face of adversity led to an idea: a new approach to journaling, social sharing and mental health.

Enter Happyfeed.

Part journaling app, part social platform, Happyfeed is Kandler’s intentional vision to provide an outlet “to break from the negativity in mainstream social channels.”

“It’s a positive, daily practice that you can do by yourself — or share with friends.”
Negative impacts of social media are showing up in mental health research. Comparison, cancel culture and cyberbullying have transformed online experiences, forcing the need for robust mental health support in high schools, on college campuses and even in the workplace.

Apps are commonly used to build awareness and mindfulness. On some platforms, “you’re basically watching TV,” Kandler says. “It tells you that you’re getting healthier, and maybe that’s good for you. But maybe it’s just time to go for a walk.” In other instances, apps encourage daily mood tracking, “but if you’re clinically depressed, telling yourself how and why you feel bad every day — that reinforcement is going to make you feel worse.”

“I wanted to take our existing social media habits and turn them into something that’s research-backed and actually good for you,” says Kandler.

Users who download the app are greeted with positivity from every angle. Inspiring prompts, easy sharing and intuitive functionality make Happyfeed a simple habit to pick up.

“And journaling is at the core of it,” Kandler says. “It’s a positive, daily practice that you can do by yourself or share with friends, and it’s scientifically proven to make you a happier person.”