- Oliver Harrison
- Publish Date
Given the huge demand for mental healthcare around the world, it’s unsurprising that the digital mental health market is so crowded. At Koa, we saw an opportunity to fix four challenges. Firstly, most services are fragmented, point solutions that only address part of the puzzle and don’t integrate with healthcare systems. Secondly, evidence bases are lacking, with only 2% of apps having any study data at all. Thirdly, users are understandably concerned about how their data is used, shared, or even sold. Last but not least, many apps offer one-size-fits-all, not benefitting from the ability of digital technology to adapt to peoples’ symptoms and personal preferences.
We created Koa to change the game in mental health, addressing these four challenges head-on. We are able to offer simple, scalable, trusted and personalised solutions to people around the world. Our solutions are integrated across the spectrum from prevention to symptom management to clinical care. They are backed by the best science and built with ethics and data privacy right at their heart. Above all, our digital-first approach means they are scalable and affordable, with no compromise on quality.
Doing this work properly has taken us five years with the strong support of a corporate incubator. Set-up in 2016 as a European “moonshot factory”, Telefónica Alpha has been our home (as “Alpha Health”). Telefónica’s support has been critical in building a breakthrough solution, allowing us to cover the critical bases. During this period, we’ve been fortunate enough to build long-lasting partnerships with world-leading organisations, including Massachusetts General Hospital, the #1 US-ranked hospital for both psychiatry and psychology, and NHS England (as a Wave 1 Test Bed) to build tech-driven mental healthcare products backed by the best clinical research.
Now we have proven that we’re ready to graduate, and secured our Series A round with investment from Ancora and Wellington Partners, who have contributed to a first closing of €14.1 million ($16.5US/£12.75 million), in a Series A funding round, that will total up to €30 million. Both our new partners recognise the value of our unique approach and the benefits it will bring to an industry that’s gaining incredible momentum. Telefónica remains a Koa shareholder and a valuable customer and partner as we continue to develop our portfolio.
Our vision is simple: Mental wellbeing for everyone. The spirit of this vision borrows from the World Health Organisation’s definition of health as “not merely the absence of disease, but the presence of physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing”. We aim to care for people with mental health disorders and to help everyone improve their mental wellbeing. Today - under the shadow of Covid-19 - our vision has never been more important.
Worldwide, organisations including the WHO and the UN unanimously agree that the pandemic has sharply increased demand for mental healthcare. Now is the time to close that demand gap with high-quality and scalable solutions.
The spin-out supports our ambition to scale in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for digital mental health worldwide. I’m so excited about our roadmap and the new support and guidance we have from our investors that will see us launch a set of mental health solutions. From digital wellbeing to digital therapeutics, we will focus on improving users’ mental wellbeing, helping them access mental health services any time, anywhere.
Our first product, Koa Foundations, is a mental wellbeing app that helps people manage stress and build resilience. Foundations is already helping dozens of companies with more than 250,000 employees better support their teams. We created Foundations with leading mental health experts. Our first study showed users were able to reduce their stress in just two weeks, helping us to enter the charts at #3 out of 565 apps for stress and anxiety from ORCHA - the leading independent reviewer of digital health apps. More products will follow in the coming months as the team continues to build, test and launch a set of mental health solutions.
We’ve come a long way since 2016 with the support of Alpha. Our graduation is the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance, as well as the setbacks that have helped shape us. Today is a day for looking forward though; we’re incredibly proud to finally reach this next milestone of our journey, and I am thrilled to open this new chapter!
about the author
Chief Executive Officer @ Koa Health
Oliver trained as a medical doctor at Cambridge and UCL and practiced for six years in psychiatry before dedicating his career to digital mental health. He spent five years in McKinsey's Health Tech practice and the last 15 years designing and building scalable health tech solutions.