Group Therapy Startup Real Raises $10M

Real, a digital group therapy startup, has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, along with other existing and new investors, some of which include soccer star Megan Rapinoe and Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erik Kendricks. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has also previously invested in the company.

Founded in 2019, Real offers users on-demand, group therapy services to address a range of issues including anxiety, depression, sexual identity, family relationships and employment concerns.

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The goal of the group model is to make treatment more accessible and decrease treatment cost. A monthly membership costs $34, with annual memberships going for $336.

The company has raised $16 million total so far, according to the fundraising tracking website Crunchbase.

Members who sign up for Real services are initially screened with a tool that measures and tracks their mental health over time. Users then are provided with therapeutic options depending on their needs, with topics of focus including anxiety, relationships and career advice. They can then access on-demand group therapy with Real therapists.

Members are encouraged to journal their progress during on-demand audio and video sessions, and are invited to take part in virtual events led by Real’s therapists, as well as engage in roundtable discussions with other members dealing with similar mental health concerns.

The company also operates a mental wellness service called Real to the People, which was created last year to help individuals cope with stress resulting from the pandemic. Currently, the service is available for free to individuals impacted by the recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide.

Real’s CEO and founder is Ariela Safira, who created the company shortly after dropping out of Columbia University’s master’s clinical psychology program.

She was inspired to start Real after a friend attempted suicide. Her aim was to improve the current model for therapy.

“Though effective to some, one-on-one therapy is a deeply flawed model—it is financially inaccessible to the majority of Americans, it cannot scale at a rate that matches the demonstrated need for mental health care and the experience itself is unappealing to many people,” Safira recently told FierceHealthcare. “It hasn’t changed in over a hundred years. We are living in a mental health crisis, and the current system isn’t solving it.”

Real plans to use the new funding to ramp up investments in technology, hiring platform developments to expand the company’s reach.

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