In my getting around in MentalTech circles talking with founders and implementors, I am often asked the question, “Do you know any venture capitalists who are focused on digital mental health. I have, for a long time, found these entities elusive in the ecosystem. I am happy to say that in the last year a few have emerged on my radar. I wanted to take space to provide an overview of these funds while also noting their unique differences.
IasoVentures is run by Wasim Malik and Valerie Photos. Launched in January 2019, it is focused on early-stage behavioral health & neuroscience plays that create non-pharmacologic solutions, with emphasis on improving patient access to treatment, enable clinician delivery of effective and evidence-based treatments, prescribable digital therapeutics for behavioral health disorders, personalized mobile- & med-tech devices & platforms and HIT that improves quality of care & workflow management. Alongside early-stage investing, Iaso VentureStudio identifies deep unmet market needs and sources nascent technology in development and incubates ventures from concept to market. Fair disclosure: I am an advisor.
Telosity is run by Anish Srivastava (CEO), Faye Sahai (Managing Director) and Allyson Plosko (Director). Launched in May 2019, it is focused on investing in scalable, for-profit, seed and Series A-stage companies improving the mental health and well-being of individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. Specifically, their investment interests are in companies with extraordinary founders developing solutions that enhance prevention efforts, bolster social and emotional skills, increase access to mental health care & support services, and create more positive online experiences.
WhatIf Ventures is run by Stephen Hays. Launched in June 2019, it is focused on early-stage plays in mental health, addiction recovery, and behavioral health. They also publish a newsletter you should subscribe to.
While still early days, it is going to be interesting to see how these funds evolve. The advantages I see in these are the development of centers of excellence & investment where:
a) MentalTech founders and experience/business models can be nurtured,
b) MentalTech learnings and practices can be developed and shared, and
c) relevant MentalTech talent, financial and experiential resources can be more easily consolidated and repurposed.
I know that are disadvantages in every scenario but there are not any that are unmanageable.
Note: When doing this research, I always presume I am seeing only part of the picture and that there are other “pure-play” players out there I have missed, and particularly outside the US, so please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know if any funds I may have missed.
Correction: After the first publication, we were notified by IGNITE that they are not an investment fund but rather an incubator which supports mental health startups. Additionally, they are incubated out of the Harvard Innovation Lab VIP Program.
Multi-Sector MentalTech Investors
It is worth noting that there are many investors in this space who have invested in MentalTech as part of broader portfolios. I am including links below of the three best articles I have read on this topic going back to 2017.
- Timeline: VC Investment In Mental Health & Wellness Tech On The Rise (August 2017)
- Psych 101: The Most Active Investors In Mental Health Tech (September 2017)
- Top 10 VCs investing in mental/behavioral health (April 2018)
- A look at the boom in VC funding for mental health startups (June 2018)
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