Between one-to-one therapy and free online forums, people search for a range of solutions to mental health therapy online. Especially since the pandemic increased anxiety and depression rose by 25% globally (according to WHO) and also deepened an epidemic of loneliness.
Among players in the online group emotional support space there is Pace (which raised $14.9 million), Grouport (raised $1.5 million) and Quilt.
Circles, a platform for online group emotional support, joined the fray in 2020, and has today raised $16.5 million in a Series A round led by Zeev Ventures. Also participating was Lior Ron, head of Uber Freight, along with existing investors NFX, Flint Capital and Sir Ronald Cohen.
With Circles, subscribers talk about life challenges such as divorce, grief and infertility, meeting weekly via group video chat to give and receive emotional support. Circles says the process is guided by “trained and vetted” mental health professionals.
Circles claims it fills the market gap between "therapy and Facebook groups" by combining professionals with the support of peers going through the same experiences, and is also available via an app, which likely aids user retention.
Irad Eichler, co-founder of Circles, said in a statement: “With this new round of funding, we'll strengthen our matching technology to match with more accuracy, increasing each group’s predisposition for success.”
Eichler previously founded "Shekulo Tov," a nonprofit organization that assists the mentally handicapped integrate into society. He claims 70-75% of Circles' members use the platform at least once a week, and 30% use it daily.
“Circles is addressing a gap in the market with the powerful yet simple principle of human connection. Propelled by leadership with proven experience in successful social impact initiatives, Circles has positioned itself to be a market leader,” commented Oren Zeev, of Zeev Ventures.