Mental health startup Intellect’s ambitious goal is to be available across Asia-Pacific, but provide localized and culturally competent care in each of the many markets it serves. Today he announced that he added $10 million to his war chest in a Series A expansion led by Tiger Global, bringing the round total to $20 million. The first half of Series A was announced in January 2022.
Other investors in the extension round include new backers K3 Ventures, JAFCO Asia, Singtel Innov8 and PERSOL Holdings, with participation from returning investors Insignia Ventures Partners and HOF Capital.
Intellect describes this as “the largest venture capital round raised by a mental health company in Asia”. The capital brings Intellect’s total funding since the former Y Combinator’s inception in 2019 to $23 million, and will be used to commercially launch into more markets, expand operations and grow its mental health system.
Intellect’s coverage and self-guided programs are available in 15 languages. Although it has a consumer application, the company mainly adopts a B2B2C model, with companies offering it as a benefit to employees. Its customers include Merck, Philips, Foodpanda, Singtel, Shopee, Omnicom Media Group and abrdn. It currently serves 3 million users in over 60 countries and has therapists and coaches based in 20 countries.
Founder and CEO Theodoric Chew told TechCrunch he decided to raise an extension instead of moving to a Series B because the company is in a strong position and generating revenue. “With the current economic climate, we wanted to put him in a better position for the next two years and beyond, so that we have a strong war chest and are not distracted.”
Intellect primarily sells to regional hubs with numerous conglomerates and head offices. For example, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are all key markets. Currently, most of its customers are from Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Intellect’s platform has two components. The first is the technological product, which includes its self-guided programs and application. The second is its clinical team of coaches, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Chew said the company works with professionals in each market to ensure culturally competent care.
“It’s something we’ve thought about a lot since day one,” he said. “Essentially what makes sense for Intellect in each region. It’s about having a hyper-localized product for every culture, region and country as well. To give an example, when someone struggles in Thailand or Hong Kong, it’s quite different from Singapore in terms of stress.
Although Intellect is available in 15 languages, Chew emphasizes that its goal is not just to translate the same material.
“We work with providers in each market, clinicians, psychologists, a team, to make sure that we not only translate, but also that we have examples and scenarios for the local context, and that extends also to its own provider network,” he said. “So beyond localizing the app to almost every country in APAC today, we have a whole network of local, native, and on-the-ground professionals.”
When someone logs into Intellect for the first time, they are invited by chat to speak with a supplier. Chew said this was important because it resulted in the most user retention. “The majority of people in Asia have never seen a professional therapist or coach, so this is new to them.”
The mental wellness technology space in Southeast Asia has grown rapidly in recent years. New examples include Meta-backed Ami, MindFi, and Thoughtfull, as well as a list of startups focused on specific markets, like Ooca in Thailand or Naluri in Malaysia.
“It’s really great to see more and more players pushing and coming into this space,” Chew said. “For us, I think that means there’s more awareness and pressure to expand the category. It’s a huge cultural shift and a push that we’re preparing for. It won’t just be a zero-sum game. from the start.
As for how Intellect differentiates itself, Chew said the key is to aim to be an end-to-end platform for mental health care, ranging from its self-guided programs to psychiatric care.
In a statement, Tiger Global partner Jay Chen said, “With its holistic, end-to-end, technology-driven approach, Intellect is poised to become a leader in providing access to healthcare. mental health across Asia. We are excited to partner with the team at Intellect as they build a flexible, responsive, and modern system for an essential part of healthcare.