Ada Ventures’ investment in Spill

Francesca (Check) Warner
Jan 19 · 5 min read

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve led a £2m investment in Spill. Spill provides all-in-one mental health support, delivered through Slack, to over 100 companies and growing.

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A (lightly edited) picture of Ada Street — a strange coincidence that we passed it during a meeting with Calvin, co-founder of Spill

Matt and I have been searching for solutions to address the growing mental health epidemic for many years. We’ve struggled until now to find companies led by exceptional teams who are building products that are used regularly, are accessible, affordable and effective. Spill meets every element of this wishlist. Spill enables employers to support their employees’ mental health and broader well-being through a growing number of seamless workplace support tools and products.

One of the long term, concerning consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is the devastating impact that the trauma, fear and uncertainty of this year has had on people’s mental health, particularly when combined with the isolation of remote working. In this context Spill’s product is more needed than ever.

Part of our mission at Ada is to broaden access to and understanding of venture capital which is why we write these posts to share what the company does, why we invested and how the investment came about.

What was the process that led to investment?

  • We were introduced to Spill by a friend and former colleague, Devin Hunt, now a Venture Partner at one of Spill’s existing investors, Seedcamp. Devin has been working with Calvin mentoring him and advising him on product.
  • As soon as we had the first (phone!) call I knew that Calvin was a special founder with that rare combination of mission, customer obsession, leadership and humility. I knew we would have to move quickly if we wanted to invest in the company so I connected Calvin to Matt for a follow-up call the same day. We accelerated our investment process, spoke to customers, colleagues and competitors before agreeing terms with Calvin to lead Spill’s round in a matter of weeks.

Why does Spill fit the Ada Thesis and what got us excited?

  • Mental Health is an underserved market. Nearly two-thirds of people (65%) say that they have experienced a mental health problem. This rises to 7 in every 10 women, young adults aged 18–34 and people living alone. Yet affordable, effective solutions to the mental health crisis are few and far between. NHS waiting times are months, sometimes years, long. Spill is tackling a market that, despite the increased awareness of the problem, is still chronically underserved.
  • Spill’s product works and is changing people’s lives for the better. Among people who did a course of six sessions on Spill, reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms was 41% and 52% (compared to 33% and 45% for antidepressants over the same time period). Spill also saw a reliable improvement (measured as an undeniable decrease from their original scores) in scores of depression or anxiety in 84% of people who have a course of 6 therapy sessions on Spill. For context, using the same measure, the NHS sees a reliable improvement of in 67% of people after 6.7 sessions.
  • Spill are able to capture value in a huge market. One of the challenges in the mental health market is who pays, and how to make the support accessible to those that need it most. By selling a Spill subscription to employers on a per employee basis as a company benefit, Spill are able to deliver high quality support to people who would ordinarily struggle to pay for it. Spill are also operating in a massive, growing market, accelerated by changing demographics and remote work. Spill could build a very big business just in the UK. Corporate wellbeing annual spend is estimated to rise to $100b by 2027.
  • The team execute fast. The Spill team specced their B2B product late last December, designed and built it in ~2 weeks in the New Year and started selling it on Jan 21st. The first paying customer signed and launched Jan 28th and they now have over 100 paying customers.
  • The team are obsessed with the quality of their product. Calvin and the Spill team are obsessed with the quality of their product. Their counsellors and therapists are all BACP (or equivalent) registered. They are also supervised by a clinical psychologist to ensure high quality levels. They all have a minimum of 200 hours client experience post-training. They only accept 5% of qualified applicants; by comparison, Oxford University’s acceptance rate in 2015 was 17.5%. Spill itself is registered with the NCS and ICO.
  • Customers love the service. The average feedback for Spill therapy sessions is 9.3 out of 10. Currently, over 60% of Spill’s new business comes through referrals, the majority of this being employee to employee referral. They also have a 42% close rate on sales demos.

This is what some of their customers say about Spill:

Jess Ruben, COO at Judopay:

“In a year [2020] that’s brought the mental health agenda to centre stage, Spill has been an invaluable offering to the Judo team and by far the most impactful benefit we’ve rolled out.”

Faye McLean, Head of People at eve sleep, adds:

“Spill has transferred how we approach mental health at eve sleep. It has helped support our efforts on building a culture of psychological safety and the number of different approaches they offer our employees is incredible. It’s also refreshing to see they are always testing out new initiatives with their clients and looking to evolve.”

Liz Stevens, Head of Operations at Growth Street:

“I would say it’s the best thing we’ve ever purchased for the team. Every single employer, big or small, should provide Spill for their teams.”

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Looking forward

With the recent announcement of Salesforce’ intent to acquire Slack, it’s an exciting time to be investing in company building on the Salesforce / Slack platform. I’m pleased to be joining the board of Spill and supporting Calvin and the team to execute on his vision to bring Spill to hundreds of thousands of people. We’re also looking forward to joining existing investors Passion Capital and Seedcamp alongside existing and new angel investors to prepare Spill for the next phase of growth.

Spill will be hiring in 2021— if you’re as excited as us about their product and mission, do check out their jobs page here.

Ada Ventures

Francesca (Check) Warner

Written by

Partner, Ada Ventures. Investing in overlooked founders and markets. Co-founder & CEO of Diversity VC. www.adaventures.com

Ada Ventures

Ada Ventures is a £30m pre-seed/seed fund, investing in bold ideas from overlooked founders and markets.

Francesca (Check) Warner

Written by

Partner, Ada Ventures. Investing in overlooked founders and markets. Co-founder & CEO of Diversity VC. www.adaventures.com

Ada Ventures

Ada Ventures is a £30m pre-seed/seed fund, investing in bold ideas from overlooked founders and markets.

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