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pi Ventures, Kae Capital back AI-based mental health platform Wysa
Wysa Co founders, Jo Aggarwal and Ramakant Vempati

Wysa, an artificial intelligence-based chat platform which focuses on mental health, has raised Rs 15 crore (around $2.15 million at the current exchange rate) in a pre-Series A funding round led by pi Ventures.

Early-stage specialist Kae Capital, an existing investor in Wysa, also participated in the round.

Wysa, which is operated by Touchkin eServices Pvt. Ltd, said in a statement that it will use the fresh capital for expansion as well as strengthening its technological infrastructure. 

The startup’s co-founder Jo Aggarwal said Wysa’s platform had been designed in collaboration with therapists. 

According to Wysa’s website, its chatbot is emotionally intelligent and combines evidence-based therapeutic techniques along with empathetic listening to make mental health accessible to a large number of people. 

The company claims to have facilitated more than 80 million conversations with users across 30 countries.

“Anonymity is key – people are scared to be seen or judged for what they are going through,” said Aggarwal.

Separately, pi Ventures founding partner Manish Singhal said the firm believed that Wysa will be able to devise a method for people to talk about their mental health without any stigma and with total privacy. “It is scalable and available for anyone to chat at any time,” he added.

Touchkin was founded in 2015 by Aggarwal and Ramakant Vempati. It had earlier developed an eponymous predictive health startup. In 2017, the company raised $1.3 million (around Rs 8.33 crore) from Kae Capital and a clutch of other investors to develop Wysa.

Investors

The investment in Wysa is at least the tenth deal for pi Ventures, which focuses on emerging technologies including applied artificial intelligence, internet of things and blockchain.

Earlier this week, it led a $1 million (around Rs 6.98 crore) seed funding round in SwitchOn, an industrial internet of things (IIoT) platform powered by artificial intelligence. 

In March, it led a $2 million (around Rs 13.8 crore) seed funding round in FrontdeskAI, which develops AI assistants for small businesses.

In August last year, the firm raised Rs 225 crore (around $31 million) for its debut fund, exceeding its initial target. The UK government’s CDC Group came in as a limited partner in August. 

Kae Capital, meanwhile, usually first backs a company during the pre-Series A round and also invests in the Series A and Series B rounds.

In January, Mint reported that the VC firm was raising an add-on fund of Rs 100 crore to invest in portfolio firms of its first fund even as it continued to deploy money from its second fund. The firm had raised $25 million (around Rs 173.82 crore at current rates) for its first fund in 2012.

In September 2017, it marked the final close of its second fund at $53 million (around Rs 339 crore), surpassing its target of $50 million.

The VC firm's recent investments include tech-enabled logistics startup Freightwalla, software-as-a-service platform Hiver and employee engagement platform Disprz.

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