The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis for many. However, mental health care is not as accessible in the country. According to data from the National Mental Health Survey-5, there are 0.75 psychiatrists in India for every 100,000 people.
A former Zomato and Expedia manager, Yash Malhotra also came to terms with anxiety amid the pandemic and turned to therapy. “I’m a big supporter of therapy and believe that like all other forms of healthcare, it should be normalized and democratized,” he says Your story.
After talking to his close friends who were facing mental health issues, Yash decided to startin 2021 with the aim of making therapy more accessible to all.
The startup, headquartered in Mumbai, offers asynchronous text-based therapy from certified therapists on its app.
Yash wanted to focus on SMS-based therapy, which a 2020 National Library of Medicine study showed improved treatment outcomes for people with anxiety and depression.
Mimblu officially started operations this January.
this august, Shevantika Nandaa practicing therapist with three years of clinical consulting experience, joined the startup as co-founder and COO.
access to therapy
The Mimblu app allows users to consult mental health therapists either via chat, voice memo sharing, or video calls – which can be scheduled based on need and availability.
“With more and more people preferring to communicate via text rather than video or in person, it’s an incredibly accessible and non-intimidating format,” said Yash, founder and CEO of Mimblu.
In the app, among other things, users have to select issues they are facing like: Mimblu then connects them to specialized therapists.
“Customers can access the app from anywhere without needing additional private space — like you might need for video sessions — or having to commute for face-to-face interactions. Also, it’s great for therapists as they can manage more clients in a given amount of time,” he adds.
The app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store and has over 10,000 cumulative downloadswith an average rating of 4 stars.
Building a community of therapists
Currently, Mimblu 15 therapists from across the country who are available 24/7 for chat and video calls. However, because the platform offers asynchronous text-based therapy, therapists can respond about two to three times a day.
Shevantika was one of the first therapists to join Mimblu before becoming a co-founder. She says that asynchronous text-based therapy is effective for mild to moderate cases of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
“We’re trying to create a change in the way therapy is done. Paying attention to language will be a likely outcome of asynchronous text therapy, as it gives users more time to think and think about their communication,” she says.
According to a study by Talkspace, over 85% of participants reported positive changes after two to four months of asynchronous text-based therapy.
The start-up relies on word-of-mouth propaganda from on-board therapists, who pass on recommendations to their colleagues. It checks their qualifications, years of experience, etc. before boarding.
According to Yash, Mimblu is working to create a “gig economy” for therapists. “Beyond the obvious financial aspect, we’re building a community of therapists who can share resources, caseloads, insights, and support one another.”
Mimblu does not have any practicing psychiatrists on the platform who can prescribe medication and the focus is on behavioral wellness ie psychotherapy.
For now, 8,000 users from all over the world use the Mimblu app – around 80% of them are from India.
The app’s target audience is Gen Z and Millennials, with 70% of users being women. The startup says about 90% of users prefer text messaging — with 8,000 text sessions hosted to date, and just 10% prefer video.
The market and the business
Mimblu operates on a subscription model, offering 14, 30, or 60-day plans to engage with therapists via chat. It gives users the ability to switch their therapist if the need arises. However, they can only do this once during their subscription period.
For text-based plans, Mimblu charges Rs 2,139 for the 30-day plan, Rs 1,299 for the 14-day plan, and Rs 1,200 per 45-minute video session (all excluding GST).
While the founders declined to disclose earnings, the startup is working on a revenue-sharing model where 50% of earnings are shared with therapists. They claim his services are more affordable than in-person therapy sessions.
According to pricing from Bengaluru-based clinics Rebuilding Minds, Karma Center for Counseling and Wellbeing and Sharda Clinic, a 45-minute traditional in-person therapy session costs between 800 and 3,000 rupees.
“Among the great benefits of text-based therapy are easy and quick connection to therapists (with traditional therapy, you may have to wait weeks or months, depending on which doctor you choose); it’s more affordable, accessible, and convenient — you don’t have to be in a certain place at a certain time,” says Shevantika.
Mimblu is also working on a pilot project with companies to offer their services to their employees.
The startup competes with players like text-based therapy startups like Talkspace and Better Healthand which enable personal therapy. Yash says what sets the team apart is that their work “is focused solely on solving accessibility and accessibility for therapy.”
According to Emergen Research, the global mental wellbeing market was worth US$401.30 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5%. According to an analysis by Data Bridge Market Research, the global elementary health market was valued at US$109 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach US$710 billion by 2029.
plans for the future
The founders have invested $20,000 from their personal savings to build the startup. It is in talks with investors to launch a pre-seed round for hiring tech positions and scaling operations.
Mimblu plans to be an end-to-end behavioral wellness platform. It builds a progress tracker that can help users track their progress with their therapist on the app.
The startup is also focused on scaling across multiple English-speaking regions.