I met Andrea in October last year in an outbound call after spotting her as part of my industry research on a space that has always fascinated me. Immediately impressed by her energy, we had an amazing conversation about mental health and the need for solutions in this space. I learned all about Yana, the singularly empathic chatbot she had been programming for the past five years.
I pitched the opportunity twice to ALLVP partners. Both times, I sold it as if it was my own startup. After all, it felt like a really personal opportunity, as I had joined our firm and applied to Stanford to build a company to solve a similar problem.
The first time, last October, Fernando mentioned that the firm knew her since 2016 when Andrea applied to a program we sponsored. He had stayed in contact, mentored her and see her grow ever since. ‘Good for her’ he said after seeing the traction, ‘but definitely too small for us’. The second time, at the end of April, I was even more impressed by Andrea and I felt we couldn’t let the opportunity pass: I presented an astonishing update emphasizing the whopping 2 million organic downloads. ‘Let me chat with Andrea to understand her traction. I’m intrigued!’ exclaimed Federico.
Two weeks later we sent a term sheet to lead a seed round in Yana.
Before the pandemic, mental health was already a struggle for a quarter of the world’s population. Moreover, treatment for mental ailments has historically been heavily stigmatized and “taboo” until recently when the health emergency kept a large part of the world home, with complete uncertainty and strong anxiety for more than one year — transforming mental health into a mainstream and needed conversation. Not surprisingly, 2020 was a tipping point for the mental health industry globally as entrepreneurs around the world leveraged technology and mobile distribution to help alleviate mental issues. Yana is one of the most successful of such novel solutions.
Global investors have taken note of the new trend investing globally $1.8Bn in mental health startups in 2020, more than double than in 2019. Today, 9.5 million people regularly use one of the top 3 emotional support chatbots in the US and India. Additionally more than six million people subscribe to meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace.
Founded in 2016, Yana provides access to mental health support to millions of users in the Spanish-speaking world. The company built an Android and an IOS app with microservices designed to accompany users towards the best version of themselves. At the core of the app lives a chatbot named Yana. Andrea´s intuition and drive towards understanding this problem has led her to build a friendly, unique and insightful platform that users relate with and recommend.
Much like portfolio fintech Flink who took the industry by storm last July, a single magical moment started Yana’s ascent to the top of free app charts surpassing Whatsapp, TikTok and Google in 7 markets. It has one of the strongest product-market fit we’ve come across in recent years.
To date, this app built in Cancun with love has been downloaded by more than five million humans in search of emotional support. We are thrilled to join Andrea, Jorge, Diego, Fernando, Johana, Jozue, Regina & Alex to help them build a better world!
From a personal perspective, I’m quite fascinated by the space, the impact and potential of such a solution, and of course by Yana’s team. Looking forward to working with you guys on this amazing adventure to support each day more people on their mental health journey!
Make sure you download the app, there’s nothing better than meeting Yana yourselves ;)
PS: Being Peruvian I have to acknowledge the stressful political times we are living. I believe leveraging tools as Yana can help us deal with our days a little bit better to continue moving forward.