Keeping it Real: An app to solve our mental health crisis

Why we’re investing in Real, an innovative mental health startup

Nicole Quinn
Apr 6 · 4 min read
Ariela Safira, Founder & CEO, Real

To say that 2020 was a crazy year is putting it mildly. According to the CDC, 40% of US adults are now struggling with a mental health issue, up from 20% pre-pandemic.

But it was also the year we finally began having a public and long-overdue conversation about these issues. Celebrities like Taylor Swift and athletes like Simone Biles came forward with their own struggles, which made it easier for the rest of us to acknowledge that we too may need help.

At Lightspeed, we’ve always believed technology has a huge role to play in promoting good mental fitness. That’s one reason why we invested in Calm, the leading app for meditation and sleep and the first mental health unicorn.

Mental health was the number one prediction in my biggest trends of 2021, and we believe the ability to inspire happiness will be a key component of many successful tech startups moving forward.

That’s one of the reasons why we’re thrilled to announce that Lightspeed is leading a $10 million Series A round in Real, a mobile subscription service that makes high-quality mental healthcare accessible to the masses.

A digital-first approach

One-on-one therapy is a wonderful and necessary tool for coping with problems like anxiety and depression, but it’s incredibly hard to scale and the experience itself is not a preferred coping tool for many people. Even in a group setting, a single therapist can help only a handful of people at a time.

Real solves that problem by turning therapy into a one-to-many platform that’s far more affordable and accessible than traditional treatments. For just $28 a month, members can choose from several therapy pathways addressing topics such as overcoming depression, understanding your anger, improving your relationship with body image, and finding fulfillment amidst career uncertainties. The sessions are informed by top-tier clinical research, but delivered in an informal and human way that feels personalized for every member. Members can also access a rich library of content, and join communities with others experiencing similar life stages — the good and the bad — without compromising their privacy.

There are many reasons we are excited about Real’s potential. Here are our top five:

A well deserved break

There are multiple startups addressing our collective need for greater mental health, and new ones seem to appear each week. But none have Real’s affordable price point, on-demand offering, community feel, and expansive set of ‘pathways’ to choose from. Real has the potential to improve the mood and well-being of millions.

After the year we’ve all just been through, we deserve it.

— Nicole

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Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed is a multi-stage VC firm focused on accelerating…

Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed is a multi-stage VC firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the enterprise and consumer sectors. In the past two decades, Lightspeed has backed 400 companies and currently manages $10.5B across the global Lightspeed platform.

Nicole Quinn

Written by

Investor at Lightspeed, Stanford alum, Former Consumer Analyst at Morgan Stanley and British 100m sprinter

Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed is a multi-stage VC firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the enterprise and consumer sectors. In the past two decades, Lightspeed has backed 400 companies and currently manages $10.5B across the global Lightspeed platform.

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