Amae Health is building an in-person approach to mental healthcare in an increasingly digital space | TechCrunch

When Sonia Garcia and Stas Sokolin decided to launch Aimee Health to solve the broken care system for people with serious mental illness, they were already well-versed in the industry’s issues.

“I started thinking about this problem a long time ago,” said Amae CEO Sokolin. “I grew up with a sister who had bipolar disorder for many years, and as a family we always struggled to get care for her. “It felt like everything was falling apart into pieces and it tore our family apart.”

Garcia also had her own experiences with the mental health care system. She lost her father to suicide when she was 16, and then she and her family spent years as caregivers for her brother, who suffered from schizoaffective and bipolar disorder. Sokolin and Garcia were introduced by mutual friends at Stanford because they were both passionate about the field. The pair knew the system could be better.

He launched Amae Health in 2022 as a new approach to helping patients with serious mental illness. Amae brings resources – including family and individual therapy, social workers, psychiatric care and medical management – ​​all under one roof. A physical roof, i.e., Amae focuses on an individual approach. The startup hired Dr. Scott Fears, who had experience with this omnichannel care approach through his work with the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital, so they could replicate the existing model rather than start a new one from scratch. Can improve.

Amae Health recently raised a $15 million Series A round led by Quiet Capital, with participation from Healthier Capital, the firm of former One Medical CEO Rich Dan Rubin; In addition to all of the company’s seed investors, Baszucki Group and Index Ventures partnered with Mike Volpi. The startup currently has one clinic in Los Angeles and plans to use the capital for expansion. Its next center will be in Raleigh, North Carolina, with locations in Houston, Ohio and New York following soon after.

The funds will also be used to continue building out the company’s data platform. Sokolin said the company is using AI to study the trove of data collected at their clinics to find ways they can continue to improve care.

Over the past few years, many startups have emerged to reform the mental health care system, but Amai Health’s focus area and approach stands out. Most of the mental health startups launched during the pandemic were digital first and focused on anxiety and depression. Amae looks very different.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a list of companies focused on anxiety and depression, and it’s good to see founders also focused on helping people with serious mental illness. serious mental health problems 14.1 million people affected in America, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. But there is little innovation in this area.

This isn’t too surprising: solutions for people with serious mental illness don’t fit neatly into traditional enterprise models like many telemedicine and digital solutions. People with serious mental illness require individualized care, making solutions more expensive and slower.

“When we first went out to raise money, a lot of venture investors were asking, why are you doing this personally? Why isn’t it virtual?” Sokolin said. “The truth of the matter is that you cannot cure someone who is suffering from delusions or auditory hallucinations. “Just like you can’t cure cancer virtually, you can’t cure it virtually.”

The nature of the business also means they are not expanding into all 50 states immediately as some digital health startups are able to do. Garcia said the company agreed with this because it is more focused on results than scaling.

“It’s about intentional growth and scale, not about a winner-take-all market, but really being thoughtful and conscious about how we grow and making sure we’re making a difference in the lives of these individuals,” Garcia said. “Creating lasting change and recovery.”

Trying to move too fast has hurt some mental health startups. Therapy telemedicine platform Cerebral has come under criticism for this advertises to potential customers and how it handles patient data In search of scale.

This slow growth approach has worked before in ventures, said Sokolin, a former VC of both the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Health2047. One Medical, a full-service health care system that also includes personal care, is a prime example. The company raised more than $500 million before being bought by Amazon for $3.9 billion. It is not surprising that the former CEO is a current investor in Amae.

Sokolin and Garcia agree with the fact that their approach has put off some potential investors. They focus more on creating a system for quality care, not just how many patients they can see.

“There are far more people than anyone can treat,” Sokolin said of the scope of individuals with serious mental illness. “We will never compromise anything by more than a small fraction, but we want to be a best-in-class provider for those members.”