Bengaluru-based AI mental health startup Wysa has raised $2 Mn (INR 15 Cr) in a pre-Series A funding round. This was led by pi Ventures, with participation from Kae Capital and other investors.
The company plans to use the funds to further strengthen their technology and for expansion. Prior to this round, the company has raised $1.9 Mn from multiple angel investors.
Founded in 2015 by Jo Aggarwal and Ramakant Vempati, Wysa is an AI-based ‘emotionally intelligent’ bot. It is a virtual coach that combines empathetic listening with evidence-based therapeutic techniques like CBT, meditation and motivational interviewing.
The company claims that it has helped over 1.2 Mn people across more than 30 countries through 80 Mn conversations. Wysa is recommended by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and its efficacy has been validated through a peer reviewed study.
Jo Aggarwal, cofounder, Wysa, said, “Anonymity is key – people are scared to be seen or judged for what they are going through. We combine the free AI with unlimited support from a qualified therapist, still anonymously, over chat to make it easy to get help.”
Wysa claims that over a million breakthroughs have happened on the platform, which is an impact equivalent to about 3 Mn hours of in-person therapy.
Manish Singhal, founding partner, pi Ventures, said, “Mental health could very well be the next big epidemic to hit the human race. Training more human therapists will not bridge the massive supply and demand gap. This is where Wysa powered by an AI engine comes in. It is scalable and is available for anyone to chat at any time in total privacy.”
Mental illness has long been more of an invisible illness. As the Indian startup ecosystem gets on the high ground and becomes a testimony to investor attention as well as innovation, startups have also taken up the charge to bring a change to this stigma and bring around a better understanding and support for those in need of mental support and guidance.
According to the WHO, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental health issues at some point in their lives. Around 450 Mn people currently suffer from such conditions, placing these among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
Amongst those who are enabling mental wellness and support the sector are Innerhealth, which is bringing therapy and consultation through online platforms like web and video chats and phone calls; YOURDost, an emotional wellness platform that connects individuals in need with experts like psychologists, life coaches, and psychiatrists; and Trijog, a social enterprise in the mental health space among others.
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