28 Jun 2016 13:35 IST

YourDost.com raises $1.2-million pre-Series A round led by SAIF

Counselling platform targets new customer segments such as housewives and elderly

Bengaluru-based online counselling and emotional wellness platform YourDost.com has raised pre-Series A funding of $1.2 million in a round led by SAIF Partners.

While SAIF has invested $1 million, existing angel investors in the firm — Venk Krishnan and Subbarao Telidevara (NuVentures), Phanindra Sama (Redbus), Aprameya (Taxi4Sure), Paula Mariwala (Seedfund), Vibhu Garg (Unicommerce) and Gaurav Bhalotia (Flipkart) — have put in the balance.

Founded in December 2014 by Richa Singh along with Puneet Manuja, Satyajeet Nandekar and Prakhar Verma, YourDost had raised close to $400,000 from the angel investors in September 2015.

The platform records 800 one-to-one counselling sessions every day handled by a panel of 350 counsellors and psychologists who have served over 3,50,000 customers to date.

The main offering on YourDost is a free web chat-based counselling and the more recently introduced audio and video counselling for fees ranging from ₹400 to ₹600 for 45-minute sessions.

“One out of every four Indians is going through mental unrest and is in dire need of counselling and psychiatric help,” Singh, who is also company’s CEO, told BusinessLine.

Staff strength

“Nearly 50 per cent of corporate India is suffering from chronic stress. In such a scenario, we are using the fresh funding to raise awareness among people for the need to proactively reach out for help if they encounter any kind of problems with relationships, careers, academic choices, personality etc.”

“We also plan to increase our team size from the current 22 to 40 in 12 months” added Singh.

Singh was inspired to start YourDost when her friend in IIT-Guwahati committed suicide due to placement pressure. The start-up is looking to hire seven senior professionals in data science, software development, product management, operations, marketing and content.

It also plans to set up a research unit that will create models on a series of issues such as developing concentration and dealing with hate and negativity.

Currently, 55 per cent of YourDost’s customers are working professionals aged 23 to 35 years, and students in the age profile of 18-25 years.

The start-up is looking to bring aboard other customer segments in large numbers, such as housewives and the elderly.

Latent demand

“We believe YourDost is at the forefront of creating a new space in India which has extremely strong latent demand.

“With its strong focus on quality supply and maintaining user anonymity, YourDost presents a unique proposition for consumers to overcome the prevailing hesitation associated with openly talking about mental issues,” said Mridul Arora, Principal, SAIF Partners.

SAIF, which has over $4 billion under management, provides seed, early and growth stage capital for emerging companies in India and China.

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