SAIF Partners, a leading venture capital firm with over $4B under management, has announced a pre-series A funding deal with YourDOST. SAIF Partners has invested $1 million into the Bangalore-based venture which offers online counselling and emotional wellness support to users to bolster their mental health. YourDOST has raised a total of $1.2 million in the round with the repeat participation of seven angel investors- Venk Krishnan (NuVentures), Subba rao Telidevara (NuVentures), Phanindra Sama (Redbus), Aprameya (Taxi4Sure), Paula Mariwala (Seedfund), Vibhu Garg (Unicommerce), Gaurav Bhalotia (Flipkart). YourDOST will strategically allocate the funds raised to rope in senior professionals from the industry in key leadership positions, to expand the scope of its operations and to reach out to more people.
Dealing with societal pressure, compulsion to perform and excel at work, family and marital issues, stress of studies, constant lifestyle comparison with the peer group due to over exposure to social media and several other factors have led to severe disturbances in our emotional stability. While the stress is on a constant rise, discussing it openly or dealing with it medically remains a taboo in our country.
This huge need gap and Richa Singh’s personal experience of a friend losing her life at IIT due to placement pressure led to birth of YourDOST to provide people with convenient yet anonymous access to experts consisting of life coaches, psychologists and other experienced individuals. Through this online platform which is available as a free service both through web portal and mobile app, users can choose to get into a live chat, find answers over email or book an appointment with the expert of their choice. It has over 300 experts on its platforms who conduct roughly 800 one-on-one sessions every day. Approximately 4,00,000 people pan-India have already sought guidance and emotional counselling on YourDOST since it went live in 2014.
Mridul Arora, Principal, SAIF Partners, said, “We are impressed by the refreshing approach YourDOST team has adopted to address an increasingly relevant issue of emotional & mental wellbeing. While still in early stages, we believe YourDOST is at the forefront of creating a new space in India which has extremely strong latent demand. With it’s strong focus on quality supply and maintaining user anonymity, YourDOST presents a unique proposition for consumers to overcome the prevailing hesitation associated with openly talking about mental issues. With this investment SAIF continues to identify and nurture businesses, right from seed stage/pre-Series A to beyond .”
Commenting on the partnership with SAIF Partners, Richa Singh, CEO, YourDOST said, “We have spent the last 1.5 years strengthening our product, creating awareness and understanding the needs of users. The entire team is now excited to enter into the next level of our evolution with support from a valuable partner like SAIF which has believed in our work and has invested in us. With the experience of SAIF Partners backing us and the funds we have raised, we are ready to accelerate our growth, expand the team and operations and reach out to more and more people with their emotional wellness coach – YourDOST.”
Incepted in December 2014, YourDOST raised close to $400,000 in seed funding round from a group of well known angel investors. YourDOST was founded in December 2014 by IIT-Guwahati alumnus Richa Singh, along with IIM-Bangalore’s Puneet Manuja, Northeastern University alumnus Satyajeet Nandekar and Prakhar Verma, a computer science graduate from BMSCE, Bengaluru.
YourDOST – addressing the need gap:
Access and awareness towards mental and emotional wellbeing is very restricted in India and comes with several taboos associated with it. Here are some facts highlighting this challenge:
- According to government estimates, 1 in 5 people in India need counselling, either psychological or psychiatric
- For an estimated 70 million+ people living with psychosocial problems and disabilities, there are less than 50 government mental health establishments.
- According to a report by WHO in 2011, 1 out of 7 people in India i.e. 15% of Indian population was suffering from depression in 2015, this has seen an alarming rise with 20% of Indian population being depressed today.
- 50% of corporate India is suffering from chronic stress. In fact as per a survey by ASSOCHAM earlier this year, highlights that the rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by 45-50% among corporate employees in the last eight years.
- According to medical experts, 4 in 5 people suffering from severe mental ailment in India choose not to treat it which causes early death by at least 15-20 years as compared to mentally healthy people
YourDOST is one of its kind online emotional wellness platform to get support from experts consisting of life coaches, psychologists and other experienced individuals. It is available to people via its web platform and also on mobile through its recently launched mobile app on android platform and IOS platform. The startup allows instant access to users to a team of 300+ experts and share their problems through an online interface, be it a live chat or email query or even book one on one interaction with the expert of their choice. The key aspect of this venture is that people are kept completely anonymous throughout the platform.
YourDOST aims to reduce the stigma attached to seeking help for mental wellness in our country and with the use of technology wants to make expert help widely and instantly available to people looking for emotional and mental wellbeing.