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AI startup Wysa bags $2mn for its conversation bot that helps improve mental health

  • Wysa had raised an earlier round of $1.3 million in seed funding from Kae Capital and angel investors in 2017
  • The company plans to use this funding to further strengthen their technology and for expansion

Bengaluru: Wysa, a conversational artificial intelligence bot made for improving mental health fitness, today announced that it has raised about $2 million ( 15 crore) in a pre-Series A round of funding led by pi Ventures, with participation from Kae Capital and other investors.

Wysa had raised an earlier round of $1.3 million in seed funding from Kae Capital and angel investors in 2017. The company plans to use this funding to further strengthen their technology and for expansion.

The app raises a set of daily questions that help track a person's daily mood, sleep activity via wearable integration, and also provides expert answers from psychologists directly.

Founded by Jo Aggarwal and Ramakant Vempati in 2015, Wysa is an AI-based bot, which offers a virtual mental fitness coach. Wysa combines empathetic listening with evidence-based therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), meditation and motivational interviewing, to make mental health care accessible to its users.

The startup also works closely with clinical psychologists and therapists to constantly train the AI engine, which was originally written with help from certified therapists. Till date, Wysa has helped over 1.2 million people from 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," said Aggarwal, co-founder, Wysa in a statement.

Aggarwal also told Mint that the app’s initial adopters were 24 to 30 year old users; however, the app is now seeing more adoption from people from age group of 35 and above as well, according to Aggarwal.

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 million people currently suffer from mental illness-related conditions. It was reported in the past that wait-lists for consulting with therapists in UK and Canada can sometimes go over a year long.

Other examples in conversation-based AI therapy bots include names like Woebot, Youper, and Therachat.

“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," added Manish Singhal, Founding Partner, pi Ventures.

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