pi Ventures leads pre-Series A funding in mental health chatbot Wysa

pi Ventures leads pre-Series A funding in mental health chatbot Wysa
Wysa Co founders, Jo Aggarwal and Ramakant Vempati
20 Jun, 2019

Bengaluru-based Touchkin eServices Pvt. Ltd, which owns mental health chatbot Wysa, has raised $2 million (about Rs 14 crore at current exchange rate) in a pre-Series A round of funding led by pi Ventures, a venture capital firm which focuses on deep technology. Mumbai-based early-stage venture capital firm Kae Capital and a few other undisclosed investors also participated in the round.

Touchkin plans to use this funding to further strengthen its technology and support expansion, it said in a press statement.

Founded by Jo Aggarwal and Ramakant Vempati three years ago, Wysa is an artificial intelligence (AI)-based virtual coach that combines empathetic listening with evidence-based therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation and motivational interviewing, to offer mental health services.

The company claims to have helped more than 1.2 million people from over 30 countries.

“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. 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,” Aggarwal said.

Wysa had earlier raised $1.3 million in seed funding from Kae Capital and angel investors in 2017.

In March 2016, it had raised Rs 2.65 crore ($400,000) in seed funding from a clutch of investors. These included Alok Mittal, former India head at Canaan Partners; Amit Gupta, co-founder, InMobi; Anuj Srivastava, CEO and co-founder, Livspace; Himanshu Aggarwal, CEO, Aspiring Minds; Raghunandan G, co-founder, TaxiForSure; and Puneet Agarwal, co-founder, Money View.

“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,” Manish Singhal, founding partner, pi Ventures, said.

Lead investor Pi Ventures focuses on investments in applied AI and Internet of Things (IoT). In August last year, the firm raised Rs 225 crore ($31 million) for its debut fund, exceeding its initial target. The UK government’s CDC Group came in as a limited partner in August. 

The fund has so far invested in startups such as SigTuple, Niramai, Ten3T, Locus.sh. In May 2018, it exited energy management startup Zenatix.

Last week, pi Ventures led a $1 million seed round funding in industrial internet of things (IIoT) startup SwitchOn.

In March this year, pi Ventures led a pre-Series A investment in FrontdeskAI, which develops AI assistants for small businesses.