InnerHour, an online psychological wellness platform, has raised $450,000 (nearly Rs 3 crore) in its first round of funding from financial advisory firm Batlivala & Karani Securities, investment firm Venture Works and others, a top company official told Techcircle.
Run by Mumbai-based MindCrescent Wellness Ventures Pvt Ltd, InnerHour offers online counselling and therapy services on both mobile and desktop platforms.
Two factors led to the creation of Innerhour "there is a stigma attached to seeking mental health in our country and the need for mental health is massive â€“ says Amit Malik, founder and chief executive of InnerHour.
Malik is a psychiatrist with specialty in geriatric medicine and also holds an MBA from the London School of Business. He has previously led the mental health team that provided care to older adults for the NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey, UK and has advised healthcare clients at Allegro Capital Advisors, an investment bank.
He started InnerHour in November 2015 with Dr Shefali Batra, a psychiatrist, counsellor, cognitive therapist and wellness consultant. She founded Mindframes, a wellness clinic and online counselling, psychological testing and training setup, in Mumbai.
"Tech confers a degree of anonymity, so those worried about stigma feel more confident in seeking support. We are very heavily focused on creating content and programmes around mental health and our plan is to also create anonymised communities where people can get peer support," says Malik.
In India, mental health is one of the few healthcare spaces, where, outside of the reputable government institutes, there are not many established organisations or players of scale. While many private psychiatrists are doing good work, there are simply not enough human resources to handle the mental health needs of the population.
At least 150 million Indians are in need of intervention for mental health, according to an extensive study undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), released late last year. Only 30 million Indians have access to mental health facilities currently. The World Health Organisation says in India, there are 0.301 psychiatrists for every 1,00,000 people.
InnerHour's team consists of expert psychologists, who offer free and paid counselling, and experienced healthcare management professionals.
Since its launch last year, InnerHour has got 65,000 visits so far and active engagements are on with 30,000 clients. "It's our phase one â€“ we are getting people comfortable with the idea of psychological help," says Batra.
InnerHour wants to work with institutions and create customised platforms for corporates, allowing employees to engage with and seek psychological support anonymously.
Keshav Sanghi, founder of VentureWorks India, says InnerHour is not a traditional healthcare company. "What differentiates it from others is that the two founders have many years of experience. Most startup founders are tech savvy but may not know the core business. I was keen on the founders," he tells Techcircle.
Other investments made by VentureWorks include talent retention and analytics firm Jombay Pvt Ltd in October 2015 and online video content platform Glamrs in June 2015. Sanghi, a former managing director of Goldman Sachs India, joined the board of both startups.
Several online healthcare platforms have raised funding in the last few months. In September 2016, InfraDigital Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which operates online doctor consultation platform AlternaCare, raised $500,000 (Rs 3.35 crore) in seed investment from Eros Labs.
In July, video-based healthcare consultation platform SeeDoc raised around $1 million (around Rs 6.7 crore) in its pre-Series A round of funding led by early stage venture fund YourNest.