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Youper, a chatbot that helps users navigate their emotions, raises $3 million in seed funding

Youper, a mental health app with a chatbot it calls an “emotional health assistant,” has raised $3 million in seed funding from Goodwater Capital. The funds will be used to accelerate development of Youper’s artificial intelligence-based capabilities and grow its user base.
Based in San Francisco, Youper was co-founded in 2016 by Dr. Jose Hamilton. For a decade, Hamilton worked as a psychiatrist in clinical settings, seeing more than 3,000 patients. While talking to them, he realized that a handful of barriers kept many people from seeking help earlier, even if they had dealt with anxiety or depression for years.
“The first one is fear, taking care of yourself, talking about your mental health, understanding your mental health,” he tells TechCrunch. “Seeing a therapist or psychiatrist is super intimidating. That’s why all of my patients used to say the same things. The second barrier is cost, of course. Psychiatrists and therapists are super expensive.”
Hamilton teamed up with co-founders Diego Couto, the startup’s chief product and growth officer, and Thiago Marafon, its CTO, to create an app that would make mental healthcare less intimidating and more accessible. They originally created an app that did not have a conversational interface. Instead, Hamilton says it took a similar approach to Calm and Headspace. But that resulted in a very low user engagement rate and after a year, the team realized Youper needed to provide a more personalized experience, matching users to the right psychological techniques, including cognitive behavioral techniques and mindfulness, for their needs.
Youper is part of a growing roster of apps that use AI-based chatbots to help users improve their emotional health, including Woebot, Wysa and X2’s Tess. Hamilton says Youper wants to differentiate with its focus on personalization, combining mental health research and user data to match the right psychological techniques with users.
Youper, a chatbot that helps users navigate their emotions, raises $3 million in seed funding
Screenshots from Youper, an app for emotional well-being.
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