After the COVID 19 pandemic, employers are eager to do their utmost to protect staff from mental health crises. All the pressures of working, self isolating and navigating conflict at home has created a significant need for resources to keep employees psychologically healthy, especially as symptoms like anxiety and burnout can subtract from the workforce.
In the UK, digital health startup Syndi Health recently raised £1.65 million ($2 million) to grow out its platform that uses AI to connect employees to the most appropriate wellbeing service.
Founders Ben Lakey and Jorge Alexander were motivated starting their company after finding themselves on a prolonged waiting list to access public mental health services.
"We began Syndi Health knowing that we didn't want to add more noise in the digital health market," says Lakey, "Instead, we wanted to help healthcare organisations and insurers offer people a way to forge their own clear and safe path to digital care. As co-founders we’ve both experienced the frustration of not being given support early enough, and wanted to make fixing this problem easier."
What seems different with Syndi Health, by comparison to other employee emotional support benefits, is the focus on a centralised dashboard and marketplace. It's bringing various mental health apps into one place, using AI as a means to keep employees engaged, but also collecting valuable insights into the team's living experience, which is then anonymised to let managers take the temperature of the room.
Syndi Health was launched in November 2020 and had initially tailored its service to student wellbeing, soon it had onboarded more than 20,000 educational users in the UK and US.
That early foothold allowed the founders to dream even bigger, and the company is now targeting employers, healthcare providers and insurers. It recently secured agreement to run a pilot test supporting employees via one of the UK's leading healthcare charities.
The pre-seed round was oversubscribed and includes funds from ex-AXA Global Health CEO Damien Marmion, DataTiger founders Phil Mohr and Puli Liyanagama, and renowned UK policy adviser Baron O'Shaughnessy.
Also taking part is Plug and Play, Remus Capital, Neo Kuma Ventures, Founders Factory and Syndicate Room's Access Fund, along with further angel investors: Roland Rudd, David Giampaolo, Jacob Haddad and Stephen Bourke.
Syndi Health said it plans to use the pre-seed funds to build out its platform, grow headcount and strike up more customer accounts in the B2B sector. It has access to a second funding pot in the form of a £400,000 grant award from Innovate UK's Biomedical Catalyst programme, aimed at trialling the product in the UK's National Health Service in Plymouth and Cornwall.
Pre-seed investor Damien Marmion commented: "Ben, Jorge and the rest of the Syndi Health team have found a way to develop an impactful product that offers remote, immediate and effective digital care.
"The platform is one that employers, individuals and insurers have long looked for - a smart one-stop-shop for digital health services, that monitors real-world impact and facilitates point-of-care solutions.
"It is a refreshing and much-needed approach to healthcare and I am excited by the impact on populations and customers that I have spent my career serving.”
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