Bengaluru-based AI-powered startup Wysa, that uses a conversational agent to help improve users’ mental health has raised ₹15 crores in pre-series A funding round from pi Ventures, Kae Capital and some other investors. The startup plans to use the freshly raised capital to strengthen its technology and expand to new geographies.
Founded by Ramakant Vempati and Jyothsna Aggarwal in 2015, the startup has built an “emotionally intelligent” bot that behaves like a virtual coach by combining empathetic listening with evidence-based therapeutic techniques like CBT, meditation and motivational interviewing in order to make mental health accessible at scale.
Earlier in 2017, the startup raised ₹9.1 crores from Kae Capital and several angel investors. The startup has helped more than 12 lakh people from over 30 countries which makes it a global leader in the AI-mental health space. The startup is recommended by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom and has been positively validated by a peer review study.
Jyothsna Aggarwal, Co-Founder, Wysa, said, “Wysa has been co-designed by therapists, users, and designers over hundreds of iterations and 80 million conversations. What people want most is to feel heard, without judgment. 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. We are delighted that our investors are partnering with us on this journey to make mental health accessible to everyone.”
Wysa has raised funds from pi Ventures just a few days after the venture capital firm invested ₹7 crores in SwitchOn, an AI-enabled industrial IoT startup. pi Ventures is India’s only early-stage venture capital fund that focuses on Applied Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things and Blockchain. The venture firm invests in startups belonging to healthcare, logistics, fintech and enterprise sectors.
Manish Singhal, Founding Partner, pi Ventures, added, “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. We do believe that Wysa can create a zero-stigma pathway to support people who are struggling, and has a real chance of solving depression and mental health challenges at scale. We wish them all the very best and are grateful to be working with them.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 25% of people in the world will be affected by some mental issue at some point in their lives. As per current metrics, more than 45 crore people suffer from mental health conditions. India has a 90% treatment gap while the United Kingdom and Canada hold year-long waiting period before therapy. Innovations such as Wysa can impact billions of lives.