Mental health startup Lantern winds down its customer operations

Mental health startup Lantern, which raised more than $20 million in funding, is winding down its commercial operations after a couple of acquisition deals fell through, TechCrunch has learned. As part of the wind-down, Lantern is laying off about 25 people, which is the majority of the staff, with a handful of former team members to focus on what’s next for the company. Their last days will be August 1, 2018.

Lantern, which offers tools to deal with stress, anxiety and body image for about $50 a month, will continue to be available for paid customers through the end of the year. However, coaches are no longer available to users.

All of Lantern’s programs were based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which examines the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The programs were designed to empower people to learn how to manage their anxiety, stress and/or body images on a daily basis.

Lantern also employed coaches, who were experienced behavioral change professionals trained in CBT to guide patients through the programs, give them feedback and help keep them accountable for reaching their goals.

Since its founding in 2013, Lantern — formerly known as ThriveOn — served hundreds of thousands of people. Lantern’s ultimate goal was to sell to insurers, but in the interim, first sold directly to consumers and then through employers like Facebook and Intuit. But Lantern needed more customers in order to survive, Lantern CEO Alejandro Foung told TechCrunch.

“What we’ve built, I still really believe in the value of it,” Foung told me. “We’re committed to finding a path forward for us.”

Lantern’s goal was to bridge the gap that exists between those who need mental health services and those who receive them. If Foung knew what the end goal was for Lantern when he first started the company, he would’ve kept a smaller team, he said. He also, of course, would’ve started focusing on insurers a lot earlier in the process.

“What I feel sad about is that we weren’t able to make that vision come to reality,” Foung said. “What I’m left with is knowledge that the product we built has a place in society. It can best be used in the future for markets people ignore.”

As lantern winds down, Foung is focused on what comes next for the company with a handful of remaining team members. He wouldn’t get in to too much detail, but told me his team will be focused “on addressing gaps that exist for underserved populations.”

When Lantern first came on the scene, there were very few startups addressing mental health issues. Since then, a number of startups have emerged, including Meru Health, Pacific Labs and startups more strictly focused on mindfulness and meditation.