Big Idea

MindPeers promises to be the pal you need for your mental wellbeing

This start-up wants to tackle mental health stigma by combining tech with evidence based-treatment

With a deadly virus looming over everyone’s lives, mental well-being has become more important than ever. Conversations around this crucial subject has finally taken precedence even in a country like India. But back in 2016 when Passion Peer founder Kanika Agarwal was looking for therapists, she found it ironic that the process in itself was extremely tedious leading to more anxiety. Finding the right therapist was a long-drawn task and the young entrepreneur realised she had to do something about it. “We only have three mental health professionals for every 1000 patients. So, there is clearly an issue of quality and quantity,” she says.

 Agarwal took it upon herself to tackle two issues— quality of good psychologists and dealing with the stigma of mental illness.Within three years, she founded MindPeers, a platform that offers several mental health services — from informational content to support groups and one-on-one therapy sessions. Feel like venting anonymously about everything that’s bothering you? The website also has a ‘vent out wall’ where you can air your grievances and questions about existential crisis with random people.

 For the first issue, MindPeers ensures that every specialist on its platform is trained and certified. Unlike most websites that just aggregate psychologists and experts, the Delhi-based start-up vets and trains each therapist before making them available for appointments. To deal with the second concern, they are first focusing on understanding mental illness. “Through a clinical matrix based on westernised scales for an Indian market, people will be able to measure their stress factor and understand why they are, say, experiencing panic attacks. This real-time analysis can then be followed by therapy sessions and other treatment,” explains Agarwal.

Officially launched in January 2020, the platform already has 14 full-time psychologists, about 250 working part time, more than 3,500 individual patients and 14 companies including the likes of Asian Paints and Unacademy. Agarwal shares that 80% of their revenue comes from institutions, which are billed per employee per session (of 60 minutes) or as per their package (of three or six months). “We will focus on B2B for now, since it helps us expand our client base faster,” she adds while revealing that they will also allow certain companies to integrate their platform onto the organisation’s employee interaction website.

Currently, the start-up is offering therapy sessions with a psychologist or a counsellor at Rs.374 for an individual, which is indicated as being available at an 80% discount. This is very low compared to other platforms that charge an average of Rs.1,000-1,500  for a session. Being a new start-up, Agarwal says, they are constantly acquiring clients and have factored in the initial cash burn for the company. To offset costs, the start-up has also set up MindPeers Academy, where its staff members train certified psychologists, who later join the team. They also have programmes for mental health caregivers, influencers and HR personnel. Training services at the academy costs Rs.1,000-5,000 over the course of 7-15 days, as per the client's requirements.

The start-up recently received seed funding worth Rs.2.5 million from the Sanjay Mehta-led 100X.VC and is in the process of raising more funds. “Besides 100X.VC, we have received a commitment worth Rs.20 million from other private investors. We are raising a total of Rs.60 million,” shares Agarwal. She is targeting revenue of Rs.450 million by end of 2022.