Therapy startup Talkspace has spent the past year seeking to help users connect with mental health professionals through the company’s web and mobile apps. To continue growing its business, the company has raised a $9.5 million Series A round led by Spark Capital, with participation from SoftBank.
Talkspace seeks to help patients get the help they need by removing much of the friction and stigma associated with seeing a therapist. While it can be nearly impossible to find a therapist you like in real life, Talkspace simplifies the process of connecting users with someone who can help.
“Most people, after their first unsuccessful attempt at finding a therapist, just give up,” Talkspace CEO Oren Frank told me. But Talkspace tries to do a much better job of making a good patient-therapist match.
That starts with using data and analysis to find the right therapists based on an introductory consultation. Powered by IBM’s Watson, the platform uses semantic analysis to gain insights about a users’ personality, thinking style and emotional stress to determine the correct therapist to work with a patient.
While removing the friction in finding a therapist to suit your needs is one big step toward making therapy available to a broader market, the app also makes communication more accessible. Instead of spending an hour a week sitting in a therapist’s office, Talkspace patients communicate with licensed, certified therapists via text. By paying a flat fee per week or per month, they can send as many messages as they wish and receive feedback and guidance in return.
Since users can send messages whenever they want, they’re no longer tied to meeting at a certain time during the week. Furthermore, given that they can share with their therapist and receive responses more frequently, users get more immediate feedback to the issues that are affecting them.
On the supply side of things, Talkspace provides a platform that enables therapists to serve multiple clients, but without having to deal with the hassle of filling out paperwork for insurance companies, or renting out office space to serve them.
Not only does Talkspace give them more freedom and the ability to serve a wider range of patients, but it also provides tools for therapists to communicate with each other and get support on the platform. As a result, Talkspace now has more than 250 certified therapists on the platform, serving clients who use its mobile apps and web platform to communicate with them.
From Spark’s side, the investment firm decided to lead the Series A after being a seed investor due to the company’s high rate of growth among consumers. That growth happened despite therapy being a subject that is decidedly not viral.
“If you look at traditional therapy, it’s very costly [and] there’s a stigma around it,” Spark’s Alex Finkelstein side. Talkspace seeks to improve the experience by leveraging how messaging is changing communications to allow users to much more freely express themselves.
The new funding will be used to expand the company’s tech team and build even better tech as it goes forward. Previously, Talkspace had raised $3.5 million from Spark Capital, SoftBank, and Metamorphic Ventures.