There is money in mindfulness. Digital wellness company Urban Health today announces a $3.4 million funding round as it seeks to scale a business that has already seen 1 million people worldwide download its app from full awareness.
Founded four years ago by three Bangalore-based entrepreneurs, Kshitij Jaggi, Rishabh Sahu and Kumar Shivang, Urban Health provides subscribers with access to a personalized program of meditation exercises aimed at improving their sleep, mental health and well-being. – be physical. The company’s app tracks users’ sleep patterns and activity levels to recommend the most appropriate meditation and sleep sessions created by a panel of experts for the company.
“Just five minutes of mindfulness and meditation a day can improve your life through stress relief and improved sleep,” says Jaggi. “We are surrounded by screens in our daily lives and these bombard us with negative feelings which can be overwhelming; heightened mindfulness can work as an antivirus for this.
The trick, according to Jaggi, is to engage users and then keep them that way. “It’s about taking small steps to improve your well-being, rather than setting unrealistic goals that seem unachievable,” he says. Urban Health starts by suggesting very short exercises for new users — a two-minute sleep exercise, for example — and then encourages users to engage in more demanding sessions over time.
“We want to be part of people’s lives,” says Jaggi. “We believe we can be the one thing users turn to every day for their well-being – it’s about finding a way to make it a habit, something you do almost automatically.”
A growing subscriber base seems to take this message to heart. The app is available to users around the world, but seems to have struck a particular chord in the United States, where 100,000 people now use it. Subscribers pay a $100 annual subscription for the service, although Urban Health practiced discounted rates in its early days to attract new users.
Jaggi believes subscriber numbers will continue to grow, particularly as Urban Health begins to work with employers willing to subscribe on behalf of their staff, as awareness of stress and mental health issues on the workplace continues. The company has already started piloting group subscriptions with several large organizations.
It is certainly an attractive market. Globally, the wellness market is estimated at $1.5 trillion per year. According to the National Institutes of Health, almost one in three young people between the ages of 13 and 18 will suffer from an anxiety disorder, while statistics suggest that almost half of the world’s population does not get enough sleep. Yet every country is struggling to provide services to help people cope with these issues, with demand for mental health support outstripping supply around the world. Digital services, such as Urban Health, have a role to play in filling this gap.
Investors take note. Today’s fundraiser is led by 3one4 Capital with participation from Venture Highway, RB Investments, Founder Bank Capital and Disney’s Ajay Arora.
“Urban health adoption has taken off, with downloads and consumer spending taking off,” says Anurag Ramdasan, partner at 3one4 capital. “We are seeing a shift in sentiment: globally, people are prioritizing their health and are willing to invest in their personal wellness needs.”
The $3.4 million investment brings Urban Health’s total funds raised to $3.8 million, with the company paving the way for an IPO in the next five to six years. The funding provides the company with breathing room to continue to scale, with recruitment underway and product development, such as further customization and the development of one-on-one coaching services, also continuing.
As for distribution, Urban Health does targeted advertising on social media, with Jaggi pointing out that “that’s where people are and that’s also where they have problems.” The company also builds numbers through word of mouth. “For many people who use us, we have become a secret that they want to pass on to their friends and family,” adds Jaggi.