In a recent development, Wysa, an AI conversational agent that help improve mental health, raised about $2m (Rs 15 crore) in a pre-Series A round of funding. This funding round was led by pi Ventures, with participation from Kae Capital and other investors.
Founded by Jo Aggarwal and Ramakant Vempati three years ago, Wysa is an AI-based ‘emotionally intelligent’ bot, a virtual coach that combines empathetic listening with evidence-based therapeutic techniques like CBT, meditation and motivational interviewing, to make mental health accessible at scale.
The founders aim to use this funding amount to further strengthen their technology and for expansion. The company had earlier raised a round of $1.3 million in seed funding from Kae Capital and angel investors in 2017.
In an earlier conversation with Analytics India Magazine, Vempati had said that they using AI and NLP models to understand user text input, link it to clinical assessments and metrics, and use rules engine linked to a proprietary therapy content platform to choose an appropriate intervention and self-help technique for delivery. The startup claims that this passive sensing model has helped them detect depression up to a 90% accuracy in trials.
“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 judgement. 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 for everyone,” said Aggarwal.
With its unique offering, Wysa has helped over 1.2 million people from 30+ countries, making it one of the global leaders in AI for mental health. It is recommended by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and its efficacy has been validated through a peer-reviewed study.
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.”
“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,” he further added.
Vempati and Aggarwal left their careers as Director at Goldman Sachs and MD of Pearson Learning respectively to start working on their ambitious project, Wysa which has grown extensively in terms of popularity, with more than five million conversations and high rating on Google Play. Wysa has users from the US, India and over 30 countries.