Our investment in Unmind’s £3m round
It FEELS GOOD today to announce we’re joining forces with Unmind and will support them in their journey to improve mental health in the workplace.
The “aspiration for a better life” is a very central theme for us at Felix. We have a strong conviction that creative founders, mission lead, will build new branded proposition tackling massive behavioural shifts in underlying wellness categories.
Since our inception, we have been focused on changing behaviors around the way we eat with investments such as Allplants, Frichti or LaRucheQuiDitOui, or the way we stay in shape with Peloton but also around our personal care with Goop, Manual or Urban. Today we’re doubling down our focus in mental wellbeing with Unmind, a couple of years after our first investment in Shine.
Mental health problems are one of the main underlying factors of disease worldwide. In the UK, they remain the largest cause of ill-health, 28% compared to 16% each for cancer and heart disease (Source: The Mental Health Foundation). We’ve been observing the early days of a massive behavioral shift around dealing with mental health. Although the brain is our primary organ, supporting our mental wellbeing has been somehow taboo throughout the centuries, unlike dealing with other areas of our health. Meditation appeared in our lives fairly recently, and content consumption has been radically facilitated by smartphones, granting all of us access to mindfulness at the touch of a button.
But equally, over the same period, buzzwords such as “burnout” has spiked, entrenched heavily amidst our relationship with the workplace. We feel strongly that our wellness at work is very much interlaced with our wellness at home. And although we observe some positive initiatives from corporates with the appointment of wellness leads (or the famous “Chief Happiness Officer” in our startup world) we feel a genuine need to go much deeper at an individual level and, thanks to technology, delivering this in a scalable way: this is what Unmind is about.
Nick’s vision alongside his cofounders has been clear since day 1: below was the first connection with us 2 years ago (thank you Jas, founder of Eve 🙌🏽!)
The fantastic thing about meeting entrepreneurs early is that you can track, observe and support them on their journey, building a genuine relationship well ahead of a potential partnership. It’s been fascinating to watch Unmind’s product, team, and commercial progress over the past couple of years, all the while maintaining complete consistency and clarity around their vision
Unmind goes much deeper than just mindfulness. They provide a complete mental platform, one that supports employees in both their work and personal lives.
Unmind offers a positive, preventative approach to mental health in the workplace. The platform provides clinically-backed tools, training, and assessments that any employee can use to proactively measure and manage their mental wellbeing. It offers personalised assessments and insights, bite-sized content for everyday wellbeing, and engaging programmes to improve areas such as stress, focus, and sleep. Users have unlimited and anonymous access to Unmind at any time, with confidential signposting to other national or local support services if required. Thanks to its holistic approach, Unmind not only helps staff to thrive, but also spot patterns, identify trends, and receive targeted recommendations too.
From a company standpoint, we have witnessed a lot of things we love over the past few months.
A mission-lead founding team
It is often said that large founding teams can be a source of risk, I actually quoted on twitter recently one of our founders’ hilarious comment on the topic 🤣:
In this case, we feel very much that they all bring something particular. Dr. Nick Taylor (we have two “Nick” here..), CEO, personifies the proposition. You spend an hour with Nick and somehow you FEEL BETTER. He embodies the mission-driven approach behind Unmind whilst his approachable style brings us back to the consumer-grade solution in the making. Nick’s background is as a Clinical Psychologist, which while definitely less common in the startup world, works very well with his leadership style and ambition”. Ry, CPO, is a repeat entrepreneur in the HR software space after founding Yomp a few years ago. And although he brings a lot of industry knowledge, he also carries another unique perspective: that of mental ill-health. From ADHD to clinical depression and anxiety, Ry has an acute understanding of how difficult it can be to navigate the existing ecosystem of solutions. And with his product/tech DNA alongside Nick’s clinical DNA, Unmind has a unique combination of both “patient” and “practitioner” at its core.. Alongside Ry there is also Nick Tong (the second Nick!), CTO and repeat entrepreneur, who translates Ry’s product vision into reality. Finally, Steve, Chief Content Office, is the second leg of Unmind’s clinical method. He has worked as a wellbeing coach consultant for nearly a decade and previously led the programme design for the South African b2b mindfulness company Mindful Revolution.
Some great hires
We would love to name all the team members making this journey so special, such as Daisy, who is leading Client Success since early days, or David who recently joined as Finance Director (ex Base79, Reward Gateway) but we would like to focus on another two key hires we love to see in SaaS companies we back: Danny (Commercial Director) and Aaina (Head of Design).
Danny joined early Q4 2018 and is already having a massive impact. Until recently all customers acquired by Unmind were initiated by inbound requests. With Danny, the company is switching to a new era of targeted SaaS Sales and we are thrilled this is happening under his leadership. Danny comes with a breadth of experience in the topic, having led Sales for EMEA at Medallia (unicorn backed by the likes of Sequoia) and been Partner Sales Director at Thomsons Online Benefits, one of the leading platforms worldwide for employee benefits.
Aaina comes straight from the valley, having previously been Creative Director at HelloSign and a designer at ZenDesk. With Felix’s DNA you would have guessed that this makes us happy! But more importantly, we strongly believe that the Power Brand and Design is as important for B2B software as for a direct to consumer proposition. In the context of Unnind, this is even more obvious as we’re building an intimate consumer-grade solution distributed through enterprise.
A consumer-grade solution
We love SaaS plays where the product is consumer-grade. As explained above, on top of industry knowledge, product and tech excellence, delivering a solution that meets the standards of everyday consumers requires a strong focus on brand and design. It’s something that we particularly like at Felix, and it can create a strong barrier to entry if executed successfully. Like any consumer play, delivering an exceptional mobile experience is paramount, but so is creating efficient marketing and distribution channels. We tried to lay-out this thinking in the announcement of our investment in TravelPerk a year ago, and we’re happy to materialise our conviction further with this new investment. In the case of Unmind, we’re building a consumer-grade platform dedicated to a very intimate and subtle matter, the bar is high and will require a lot of creativity.
Early signs of customers validation
Unmind’s team has already achieved a lot since they launched the first version of their platform in 2017. When we invest in a SaaS platform, we need a strong conviction on the product but also want to see clear signs of early customer success. It often validates the quality of the platform whilst demonstrating a capacity to sell and to close big accounts. Unmind can already praise itself for securing global enterprise accounts with clients such as John Lewis, Xero, William Hill, Thomson Online Benefits, Square Enix or Made.com but what we were most impressed with vs. competitors is the comparatively higher levels of engagement and NPS across these accounts, making them great ambassadors. And with the recent arrival of Danny, many more names have already been signed, with others currently conducting paid pilots — we can’t wait to tell you more as we believe we are at an inflection point here.
A board in good company
I’ve seen numerous debates about board structure or board relevancy. We tend to think that the best value investors bring is mostly captured outside the board, nevertheless the topic of board structure frequently arises at Series A. Most of the time entrepreneurs openly express their willingness for us to sit on the board, stating it as a key benefit of the newfound partnership: having a thematic and focused fund which will support them with upcoming challenges and opportunities. Aside from this consideration, we love boards infused with sector expertise. In the case of Unmind, we’re very excited to be in good company at the board with Michael Whitfield, co-founder and ex-CEO of Thomson Online Benefits, leader in Global Benefits software (which was sold to Mercer a few years ago). Although Michael and his co-founder Chris Bruce were already existing investors, they co-invested significantly in this round, showing their conviction about Unmind’s mission and execution to-date. Michael and Chris have also been very valuable in stimulating the sales pipeline, as well as introducing talent from their network (such as Danny, who they’d previously worked with). Navigating the HR world is not an easy affair and we glad to have them part of the journey. On this note, we would like to thank all existing investors, such a Dan from Anthemis Exponential Ventures, the Pentland Ventures team or the team at True.
As we said earlier, it FEELS GOOD to be part of the early days of what we hope will be a very special journey. We couldn’t have been more excited to team up with such an ambitious, authentic and mission-led team. Now is time for:
Antoine and the Felix Team