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Exclusive: Heard collects $10M to help therapists listen

May 5, 2022
Illustration of a coffee mug that reads "I love my job" with a brain in place of the heart

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Heard, a startup that handles administrative tasks for behavioral health providers, raised $10 million in Series A funding, the company's co-founders Andrew Riesen and Victoria Li tell Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: As the digital health stage crowds with buzzy provider players, businesses that handle the administrative (less sexy) tasks of virtual care are making their own debut.

Details: Footwork VC led Heard's funding round and was joined by Founders Co-Op, Act One Ventures, and individual backers including Akins Van Horne, Cat Lee, Charley Ma, Cindy Bi, D’Arcy Coolican, Matthew Goldman, Nikhil Dixit and Nitya Subramanian.

How it works: Remote first and based in Seattle, Heard courts private practice therapists and handles bookkeeping, payroll and tax services.

  • Under the company's subscription model, individual therapists pay $149 a month for the service or $1,341 a year (a 25% discount). Group practices pay $249 a month or $2,241 a year.
  • Most of its current customers are early-career providers looking to set up private practices, Riesen tells Axios.

Context: Several other such digital health infrastructure startups have also attracted early-stage funding as of late.

  • Flume Health, a New York-based health plan builder for organizations, raised $30 million in Series A funding in March.
  • Capable Health, a maker of a plug-and-play platform for virtual care startups, raised $6 million in seed funding earlier this week.
  • Zus Health, which offers a "Lego kit for health care builders," raised $34 million in Series A funding last summer.

Flashback: The company had a previous life as a therapist matching platform, which Li and Riesen started after meeting at a mental health hackathon event in 2019.

  • When the pair learned that many therapists who train in specific specialties don't get to fully use those skills when practicing at larger organizations, they decided to pivot their business, and focus on equipping providers to open private practices.
  • "This issue of therapists being entrepreneurs, it’s a deeply embattled and embedded problem," says Riesen, who struggled personally with anxiety and depression from an early age.

The bottom line: Heard's primary goal is helping therapists spend less time accounting and more time listening, according to Riesen and Mike Smith, general partner and co-founder at Footwork.

  • "We felt like this was a tool to empower therapists and let them do the things they love most, which is serve clients," says Smith.
  • Or in other words, "make it a heck of a lot easier for a therapist to be a therapist," Riesen says.
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