There are those times when you just need to talk to someone – confidentially, anonymously. You know – those times when your BFF just won’t do. No, you need someone more like an unbiased, non-judgmental professional and yes, there is an app for that.
Talkspace was created to make therapy easily available and very affordable for billions of people, which is why Spark Capital led the seed round of financing a few months back, joined by SoftBank, and Metamorphic Ventures recently injected $1 million, bringing the company’s total seed funding in 2014 to $3.5 million.
All of the therapists are trained professionals, and being on mobile – it’s available on both iOS and Android – allows for unprecedented accessibility, affordability, and flexibility when it comes to receiving quality care whenever people need it. And let’s face it: we’re always carrying our phones.
CEO and cofounder Oren Frank discusses the funding and the company’s plans for providing an easy was for everyone to get therapy, where and when they need it.
Tell us about your service.
Talkspace is a web and mobile app that lets people connect and communicate with licensed therapists anonymously and privately. With Talkspace, people have unlimited access to their therapist 24/7 and can message them from anytime, anywhere.
How is it different?
Talkspace is different for many reasons:
- “Unlimited Messaging Therapy:” We discovered that messaging with a therapist is a very good modality for therapy; most of our patients are texting with a therapist vs. video or phone calls, etc. There are no “sessions” or “appointments,” so patients are free to text their therapist whenever and wherever. Through “Unlimited Messaging Therapy,” patients and therapists are put into private rooms to have a 1-on-1 relationship with each other.
- Licensed professional therapists only: We believe that the quality of the therapist = the success of therapy. We do not use coaches, “listeners,” etc. — only highly trained and experienced professionals are accepted into the Talkspace network of providers.
- Mobile-first: by taking a mobile-first approach to reimagining therapy for the way people live today, Talkspace makes it possible for people to tell therapists their problems and get quick feedback.
- Anonymity: To further reduce the stigmas associated with mental health issues, Talkspace users have the choice of remaining anonymous when texting with the therapist, which helps them open up faster and feel more comfortable talking about their problems.
- Affordability and Practicality: By democratizing health care so that it’s affordable for everyone, Talkspace is lowering the barrier to entry, with a weekly subscription that costs less than the copay for one visit to the therapists office — no appointments needed, HMO-free.
- Flexibility: By bringing mental health care to where people spend most of their time – with their smartphone screens — we’re making it easier than ever before to get therapy. Talkspace effectively puts therapists into the palm of people’s hands.
Which are your most popular forums?
‘Relationship is complicated – some advice’
‘How to deal with depression or anxiety’
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Our mission is to provide therapy for everyone — it’s not a specific market that we’re targeting, since studies show that 1 out of 4 Americans suffer from some type of mental disorder. We’re aiming to normalize therapy and make it a part of everyone’s daily lives.
Over 45 Million Americans are being referred to a therapist every year, and only 7M receive therapy. That’s a market failure where the US healthcare system is failing its citizens. We will help solve this.
The situation is similar across other countries too; we plan to expand to Europe and Asia in 2015.
What’s your business model?
- Weekly is $49/week, renewed automatically.
- Monthly is only $99/month ($25/week), renewed automatically.
- Quarterly is $228/3 months ($19/week).
What was the funding process like?
We were lucky to meet VCs who immediately understood our vision, its scale, and do-good value for millions of people in need; this allowed for a very fast and friendly relationship that we all felt was beneficial for both Talkspace and investors — just like in therapy
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Some VCs are led by people who seemed to be part of that group who believes that there is a damaging stigma surrounding mental health in general and therapy in particular – they were a bad fit for us and our vision.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Our investors understood the scale and magnitude of the problem we’re solving, and the future value to a huge audience; everyone has a crisis in life sooner or later and therapy is highly effective in dealing with it
Our investors also spent a lot of time and effort talking with therapists who work with Talkspace, and were very happy and impressed with their support and belief in what we do.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
In the next six months, we plan to reach hundreds of thousand of people in need of help, and extend our service to other markets around the world.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Tenacity aka as stubbornness aka 24//7/365 aka “Never give up.”
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
From tens of thousands people being helped to millions around the world.
What’s your favorite NYC spot to visit when you need a mental health break?
Oh, definitely New Jersey
Seriously, an evening with our daughters and no screens.