[Funding alert] Google's assistant investment programme invests in mental health startup Wysa

Wysa is an AI-based ‘emotionally intelligent' bot — a virtual coach that combines empathetic listening with evidence-based therapeutic techniques like CBT, meditation, and motivational interviewing to make mental health accessible at scale.
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Google, via its assistant investment programme, has invested an undisclosed amount in Wysa, the AI-based Indian mental health startup, marking the fund's first investment in Asia.

"We’ve been refining what works for us to manage our own mental health over hundreds of iterations, with dozens of clinicians, and over three million Wysa users — all organic," the Bengaluru-based startup's CEO and Founder, Jo Aggarwal, said.

Founded by Jo and Ramakant Vempati in 2015, Wysa is an AI-based ‘emotionally intelligent' bot — a virtual coach that combines empathetic listening with evidence-based therapeutic techniques like CBT, meditation, and motivational interviewing to make mental health accessible at scale.

The startup has raised $3.9 million in funding so far from investors such as Kae Capital and pi Ventures.

"The Google Assistant Investments programme was launched in 2018 for early-stage startups that share our passion for the digital assistant ecosystem, helping to push new ideas forward, and advance the possibilities of what digital assistants can do. In the post-COVID-19 world, managing our mental health is no longer a medical issue, but a part of everyone’s daily routine," said Moez Kaderali, Programme Manager for the Google Assistant Investments Programme, in a press statement announcing the investment.

"We all need a space to vent, to feel heard, and to learn to manage negative thoughts sleep and anxiety. Wysa’s explainable AI — combining natural language understanding with clinical assurance — helps everyone build skills to manage their mental health in the new normal," Moez added.

Wysa counts nearly three million users across 65 countries on its app, with nearly 85 percent of its users from outside India. It expects to reach 50 million users in the next three years, Jo said.

The startup has tied up with several insurance companies, UK's National Health Services (NHS), and private hospitals to extend its services and enable more people to focus on their mental health.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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