Antler Global
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Antler Global

A $33bn opportunity: WIRL is tackling mental health by creating healthier relationships with food

WIRL is the world’s first mental wellbeing platform fuelled by food and driven by the gut-brain axis.

It offers users a personalised and science-backed way of eating that supports both ‘how’ and ‘what’ we eat.

WIRL is creating a new consumer category of ‘nutritional psychiatry,’ based on the growing scientific field that explores the impact of nutritional interventions on one’s mental health.

The HealthTech startup was launched by co-founders Alicia Holmques and Bree Pagonis, and recently secured investment from early-stage VC Antler.

“We’ve backed WIRL, and their deep domain expertise in nutrition and mental health, because we have high conviction that their co-founder pairing is extremely solid,” said Bede Moore, Managing Partner of Antler APAC.

“They have a unique skill set in launching hundreds of nutrition products into the market with extensive experience in the scale-up of brands that have built new categories, over 14 years of combined experience as dietitians and marketing professionals, and a growing community of over 11,000 followers who live and breathe the problem every day.”

Already, the WIRL team is capturing the eyes of informed observers, having recently been awarded the Victorian Young Achiever Tech Visionary award for their work.

Along with that, the co-founders have been moving fast, building out their MVP and testing it with consumers.

“In the four weeks before investment, we have built an MVP which is live for beta testing with select customers, and we are currently iterating across a number of prototypes to build customer retention,” says Holmques.

“We ran our latest web-based prototype — an email journey similar to our MVP, that shares dinner and snack recipes along with paired guided audio tools to support people during the lockdown.

“Our results show we have a product people want and continue to engage with 498 women signing up within the first week of launching, a 72% increase week on week return rate and engagement and 94% of people saying they would recommend it to a friend.

“Along with that, 88% of users believe it has boosted their mood through food — proving we have a product that delivers on our value proposition,” she says.

“The success of this prototype now means we have 900 people on our waitlist, including 300 of Treasury Wine’s global staff to test one of our sales channels.

“With the global mental wellbeing market worth $33 billion in 2020, and expected to rapidly grow, this is a $1 billion opportunity in AU, the UK, and the USA alone, based on the percentage of women focused on both mental wellbeing and personal nutrition, and who do not want to simply pursue weight loss.”

Learn more about WIRL here.

Meet the WIRL team and hear the founders pitch at Antler’s upcoming Portfolio Reveal event on Dec 1 at the Sydney Startup Hub. Tickets here.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to build a global technology company from Australia, apply to join Antler now. Applications for January are now open!

Antler is a global early-stage VC firm that builds and invests in groundbreaking technology companies.

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Sarah Kimmorley

Sarah Kimmorley

Sarah is the VP of Marketing & PR at Antler. She was formerly the General Manager of Business Insider Australia, and Gizmodo Media Group.

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