Dealing with societal pressure to perform and excel at work, family and marital issues, study stress, and the constant lifestyle comparison with the peer group have led to severe disturbances in our emotional stability. While the stress continues to show a constant rise, discussing it openly or dealing with it medically is still a taboo in our country.
Sensing this huge gap and being triggered by a personal experience of a friend, who lost her life at IIT due to placement pressure, motivated Richa Singh to found YourDOST to provide people with convenient yet anonymous access to experts consisting of life coaches, psychologists and other experienced individuals.
Through this online platform which is available as a free service, through web portal and mobile app, users can choose to get into a live chat, find answers over email or book an appointment with the expert of their choice.
“The idea saw its birth out of a personal experience and therefore it is not just a business for us. When I was at IIT Guwahati, my hostel-mate committed suicide due to anticipation of bad placement. None of us had any clue of her suffering before she took the drastic step. Further, when I started working, people around me were stressed due to job pressure and relationship issues. However, again most of these people were not willing to talk about their problems fearing social implications and for the fear of being called mentally ill. We want to make sure we are connecting to connect and not just to upvote. With this belief, we started yourdost.co,” said Richa Singh, Founder, YourDost.
Launched in December 2014, YourDOST team strongly believes that awareness at this stage is the key; people need to know and acknowledge the importance of mental wellness and then comes the next step of seeking help.
“We, as a society, have neglected healthcare for a long time especially mental healthcare. But the trend is changing. We have already moved from reactive healthcare of visiting a doctor only after falling sick to preventive healthcare with more emphasis on physical fitness and regular checkups. With more organizations coming up to address the mental and emotional aspect along with celebrities who are openly speaking on the subject, we are confident that we are at an inflection point for the Mental Healthcare industry,” said Singh.
Bootstrapped for initial period of its operations, Startup has recently raised close to $ 400,000 in Angel round of funding. Owing to the uniqueness of the idea, the start-up has been able to attract established entrepreneurs and professionals like Phanindra Sama, Founder Redbus; Aprameya Radhakrishna, Founder of Taxi For Sure; Aneesh Reddy, Founder at Capillary and there are many more in the investor portfolio list. The venture plans to utilize this funding for its marketing and expansion needs.
Commenting on the investment, Singh said, “The fundraising experience was a first time for us and it was a very good learning experience. Getting rejected is a part of the game but what also helped us is that we were exclusively introduced to the right set of investors through our lead investors and platforms like LetsVenture. We were very clear with our vision and we went from one person to the other showing the same. The convincing was slightly difficult because it is an unexplored and challenging sector. It wasn't just funds that we were looking for but a set of people who could believe in our vision and mentor us in this journey. Though it was difficult yet we finally managed to create a great mentoring group for us.”
Growth and expansion
Started in partnership with IIM-B alumunus Puneet Manuja and Prakhar Verma, a computer science graduate from BMSCE, Bangalore, in last 10 months of its operations, YourDOST has received tremendous response from the market with close to 70,000 users so far and the number is growing at about 40 per cent a month. With 10,000 registered users currently, a team of more than 75 experts service around 300 one -to-one interactive sessions on a daily basis.
“We get around 17,000 monthly active users across the platform using features like chat, discussions, blog content and others. Majority (around 30 per cent) of the queries we receive are about relationships, both pre marital and post marital concerns followed by career, academic, social anxiety, sexuality and others,” informed Singh.
Majority of their users come from metros like New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. They also see a good amount of traffic from various tier-II cities like Srinagar, Gwalior and others.
“The plan is to cover major metros and then shift our focus on tier-II cities where we have a greater need of removing stigma and building support structures for mental wellness,” said Singh.