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Funding for mental-health focused startups rises in 2020


As wellness startups drift generally, VC hotspots emerge

Turning away from the public markets, IPOs, SPACs and Palantir for a moment, would you like to talk about startups again? I would.

This morning, I pored over venture capital funding patterns for wellness-focused startups. Broadly, according to a new report, these startups raised less money in the first half of 2020 than they did in the first two quarters of 2019. Deal volume fell from nearly 600 in H1 2019 to just under 500 in H1 2020, and dollars invested slipped from $6.1 billion to $4.6 billion in the same timeframe.

But, if we peer a bit deeper and look at the subcategories of wellness startups, interesting hotspots become clear.


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Inside the sub-categories of wellness startups that CB Insights dug through while compiling the dataset, some, like fitness tech and sleep tech, saw fewer deals and dollars than they did in the first half of 2019. But one particular varietal is doing very well this year: mental-health focused companies.

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The strong venture results that these startups have recorded in 2020 are not entirely due to a pandemic, a recession and political unrest that’s causing more anguish than usual, though I’d be surprised if those factors didn’t provide a tailwind of sorts.

Stepping back a few quarters, there’s a bit more to the business side of mental-health startups that I want to unpack.

This morning, let’s remind ourselves about how startups like Calm and Headspace proved that their market was large and lucrative, review the venture capital data and see if the pattern of strong investment in the space is continuing in the current quarter.

We should see another unicorn or two out of the group, we reckon, before the eventual tech downturn. So let’s work to understand where the category is today.



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I'm a 50 year old PLC programmer from Burnley, UK. I severed my time as an electrician in the baking industry and soon got involved with the up and coming technology of PLC's. Initially this was all based in the Uk but as the years went by I have gradually worked my way around the globe. At first it was mainly Mitsubishi with a bit of Modicon thrown in but these days the industry leaders seem to be the Allen Bradley range of PLC and HMI’s.

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