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Exclusive: Virtual therapy startup HelloSelf files $20M Series B

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

British virtual therapy provider HelloSelf collected $20 million in Series B funds to expand in Europe, CEO Charles Wells tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Tele-behavioral health remains an active area for global investment because of skyrocketing demand for therapy and a shortage of providers.

Deal details: Octopus Ventures led the round and was joined by Omers Ventures, Manta Ray Ventures and Oxford Capital.

  • The funds will help the company hire more therapists, hone its post-treatment care model and expand geographically.
  • Wells declined to say when the company planned to raise a Series C.

State of play: Several U.S. companies with models similar to HelloSelf's have attracted significant investor interest in recent years.

The backstory: Wells came up with the idea for HelloSelf after ripping the artery to his visual cortex while preparing for a race and falling into a coma.

  • After the surgery that saved his life, Wells began focusing on improving 1% each day, leading him to the idea of a platform that could help people do the same.
  • "I realized, 'Why are we OK with just being OK? Why don't we all strive to keep improving?' So I thought about using that to help people experience their best self," Wells tells Axios.

How it works: HelloSelf partners with employers, insurers, private health care providers and the U.K.'s National Health Service to offer personalized psychological support for a wide range of mental illnesses including anxiety, addiction, bipolar disorder, depression and PTSD.

  • The company's algorithm helps match individuals with providers by crunching data including patient-provider personality type, specialty and scheduling availability.
  • It tracks patient outcomes including progress achieving personalized goals, scores on standard depression and anxiety questionnaires including the PHQ-9 and GAD-7, and general wellbeing scores.

Where it stands: HelloSelf has a network of roughly 300 therapists who currently serve about 1,200 patients.

  • The company employs only clinical psychologists with a doctorate and three years of qualifications.
  • "We want to create the world’s most trusted brand for psychological support," Wells says.

Yes, but: That reliance on highly skilled therapists is a potential risk in a world stricken by provider shortages.

  • Investor and Octopus Ventures partner Kamran Adle hopes HelloSelf's use of AI can help address that in the future.
  • "Right now that AI enables the rapid matching of the patient and therapist, but by being a kind of operating software for therapists, I could see it eventually enabling them to have a very effective blend of human and technology," Adle says.
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