Mental health startup Intellect gets $2.2 million to expand in Asia

Intellect, a Singapore-based startup looking to make mental health care more accessible in Asia, announced it has raised $2.2 million in pre-Series A funding. It joins the current batch of Y Combinator, which will be holding its Demo Day at the end of this month.

The round was led by recurring investor Insignia Venture Partners and included participation from Y Combinator, XA Network and investors such as Rainforest co-founder JJ Chai; Prenetics and CircleDNA founder Danny Yeung; and Gilberto Gaeta, Google’s director of global HR operations.

This brings the total funding of Intellect as it launched a year ago to $3 million, including a seed round announced in December 2020 that was also led by Insignia.

Intellect offered two major product suites: a consumer app with self-guided programs based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, and a mental health benefit solution for employers with online therapy programs and telehealth services. The startup now claims more than 2.5 million app users and 20 enterprise customers, including FoodPanda, Shopback, Carousell, Avery Dennison, Schroders and government agencies.

Founder and chief executive officer Theodoric Chew told TechCrunch that Intellect usage rate is higher than traditional EAP helpline solutions. On average, the mental health benefits solution sees about 20% to 45% engagement within three months of being adopted by companies with more than 5,000 employees.

There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues in many Asian cultures, but that has changed in the past year and a half as people continue to deal with the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chew said. “From individuals to corporations, insurers and governments, all these different types of people and organizations are now rapidly prioritizing mental health care on an individual and organizational level.”

Intellect protects users’ privacy with zero-knowledge encryption so that the startup and employers cannot access people’s data or communicate with their coaches and counselors. All insights shared with employers are aggregated and anonymized. Chew said the company also complies with key data privacy regulations, such as ISO, HIPAA and GDPR.

Intellect is currently collaborating on 10 studies with institutions such as the National University of Singapore, King’s College London, University of Queensland and Singapore General Hospital. It says studies to date have shown improvements in users’ mental well-being, stress levels and anxiety.

The new funding will be used to expand into more Asian markets. Intellect currently covers 12 countries and 11 languages.