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The journey of raising our £4.4m Series A

11 Jan 2022
5 min read

We are so proud to announce we have completed our oversubscribed Series A funding round of £4.4m!

We raised the capital from a variety of awesome Family Offices and Angel investors, including those from Deutsche Bank, Blackstone and Adobe.

Since April 2019, we’ve been on the steepest learning curve possible. There are so many aspects to fundraising that many startups aren’t prepared for. We definitely weren’t!

But after growing as far as we could whilst bootstrapping the company, we wanted to take MYNDUP to the next level 🚀

From day one it has been our mission to make sure no one ever feels stuck, helpless or alone. No one should suffer the failings of the broken mental health system we currently face.

So that meant, embarking on a mission to truly transform the mental health landscape and enhance workplace mental health support.

The MYNDUP Story

In November 2018, Joel had an undiagnosed health condition take over his life.

For months, doctors were unable to diagnose Joel’s health condition. He spent 8 months suffering, in and out of various A&E departments. The uncertainty affected his mental health and he started to develop depression.

At the time, he was working at one of the biggest accountancy firms in the world, with over 50,000 employees. He eventually found the courage to reach out to his manager for support.

At first, his manager wasn’t aware of the solutions available to him. They signposted him to regional HR and told him about occupational health counselling service. But they also stated the process was complex with long wait times. At this point, Joel’s depression had peaked. He was suicidal and left without support.

Out of desperation, Joel paid privately for counselling to access support immediately. At this point, he discovered that the ‘traditional’ form of counselling didn’t help him. He found that it focused too much on the past with not enough solutions.

Joel spent weeks researching potential mental health solutions. He finally came across Jermaine Harris, a fantastic Life Coach and Mindfulness Expert.

Jermaine changed Joel’s life and it was from that moment onwards that Joel set out on a mission to do 3 things:

👉 Show the world that there is no single solution when it comes to mental health

👉 Change the way organisations support their employees, by removing all barriers to accessing mental health solutions

👉 Break the stigma that ‘mental health’ must mean mental problems

In 2019, Joel joined the startup entrepreneur development programme, NEF. He presented the concept of MYNDUP to multiple mentors. This is when James Lock, Managing Director at Blackstone, agreed to help him during this journey.

Joel bootstrapped the company with only £105! He practised the lean start-up method to confirm product-market fit with his idea and worked tirelessly to earn his first client after a number of rejections. He took feedback on board and pivoted the product features to ensure it further aligned to client, user and practitioner needs.

The hard work paid off in February 2020, when Joel secured his first client, The Office Group. Today, MYNDUP continues to service their employees across the UK and Europe.

Joel remained determined to reach more people that might be stuck, helpless and alone like he was in 2018.

Shortly after, he secured another major brand, Savills, who rolled out the service across the whole of the UK. They were blown away by the initial engagement rates and were receiving an influx of emails from employees with feedback that their lives had transformed because of MYNDUP.

The Need for MYNDUP

In August 2020, we raised our first £50k in investments and grants from CVC, the London Stock Exchange Group and Angel Investors. To raise this money, Joel had to first demonstrate 4 key milestones:

  1. Strong founding team
  2. Traction
  3. Feedback
  4. Profitable business model

With the above list, Joel also took decisive action to improve the service.

By December 2020, we’d raised a further £150k for more growth. After validating our product-market fit with our 100% client retention. As well as over 95% of users reduced stress and depression from using the service.

The funding came from Joel’s mentors:

- Arpit Gupta (former Head of Marketing at Microsoft)

- Stephane Mardel (former Managing Director at ICAP)

- James Lock (Managing Director at Blackstone)

After another hyper growth phase, Joel doubled the revenue and client base in 6 months! He aimed to raise an additional 300k investment without any traditional institutional investors.

We eventually raised the capital from a variety of angel investors from Deutsche Bank, the London Stock Exchange Group and BP. During this time, the market was continuously confirming the need for mental health support.

Deloitte’s 2022 report continues to validate the problems with mental health support in the workplace:

  • 40% of employee turnover costs are due to mental health issues
  • Presenteeism (attending work whilst ill) is the highest reason for staff turnover
  • 50% of employees experienced at least one symptom of burnout. This includes exhaustion, mental distance from their job, and decline in work performance.
  • More than 36% of employees used resources to help manage their mental health.
  • 61% of employees planned to leave their job due to poor mental health.

Today, MYNDUP has 50 corporate clients and proudly servicing over 50,000 employees, in over 30 countries, across 4 continents including organisations such as McCann, Dentons, Avast, Savills and The Prince’s Trust.

Product market fit has been further validated by achieving:

  • Customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) +84
  • 95% client retention rate
  • Reduced employee Stress, Anxiety & Depression in 96% of users
  • Boosted employee Confidence, Motivation & Productivity in 99% of users

With continuous validation, Joel and our COO Paul decided to raise a Series A round of £4m. The aim was to help get MYNDUP out there to help as many employees around the world as possible!

The Investment Journey

The initial conversations started in December 2021, with company valuation required. We knew the company valuation needed to be fair and reasonable, and that we also needed to assess the market.

But we also knew we had a premium company which was profitable in the first year, and this was exciting for us.

What we weren’t prepared for was the tough market turmoil. After over 100 pitches, and constant rejections, we managed to fill half of the ticket in the first few months.

We dropped our valuation by around 30% as advised. It was a tough decision at first, but we learnt the need to adapt to market changes. We didn’t want to allow our pride and ego to get in the way. And dropping the valuation also meant that we were able to raise the funds quicker and get back to running the business.

You hear stories where fundraising is quick and painless. But our experience was nothing close to that. The process of raising investment became a full-time job!

Trying to support and onboard a new team at the same time, mentally stretched both Joel and Paul. There were long hours and the need to make continuous critical decisions.

The mental and emotional exhaustion was greater than the physical demands at times, but the hard work eventually paid off. Joel’s mentor at Blackstone doubled their investment, along with two family offices. Investors of major corporations were keen to support Joel and the business, including the backing of previous Founders who had exited their companies for over £150m. We even had the opportunity to pitch the product to one of our US investment banking clients. Straight after that pitch Joel received an email stating that the entire Executive team wanted to invest, including the CEO!!

Lessons in Fundraising

To say the process was brutal was an understatement. There were a few times when stakes were high, meaning friction was also high. Joel and Paul both received coaching through the process and still continue to do so. This has made a huge difference in keeping them on track.

“After a while of getting rejected, you start questioning yourself and the product. You need a lot of resilience to get through the process.
Paul teaches the whole team the importance of giving and receiving feedback well. And this means leaning into those difficult conversations to improve. So that’s what we did.

10 minutes into a pitch with an investor, they stopped us to say they weren’t interested. We went away, planned, adapted and revised our deck. We kept practising it and recorded ourselves to ensure that we fulfilled the needs of the market. We wanted to make sure we did the business justice. We never ignored that feedback. When the negative feedback became anxiety-inducing, we pushed past it, making it constructive.” - Joel

“Getting rejected deflates most people but for Joel, it seemed to motivate him even more. It was fascinating to go through the process with him and see his incredible growth mindset.” - Paul, COO

The gruelling pitching process taught us about going above and beyond for investors and living by our company values. Sometimes that meant turning a whole 50-page business plan around in a mere 3 days. Other times that meant learning to be nimble and adaptable.

What’s Next for MYNDUP?

We have big plans to revolutionise the mental health industry. Our vision is to create a world where we uplift every MYND, one conversation at a time.

And that starts with growing the awareness of our platform.

With the funding, we can amplify our marketing and product awareness. We can continue our mission to make mental health support accessible to everyone.

We’re excited to expand the MYNDUP family from the 17 employees it has today to over 50 in the next year. And with the investment, we will use artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. This is to match our users to the right practitioner in seconds.

It's our goal to help 1 million companies in our lifetime transform mental health in the workplace. We want to play a pivotal role in the global transformation of employee support!

We’re incredibly excited for the future of MYNDUP and what’s to come. We know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to change the mental health landscape. But we have the passion, team, clients and practitioners to achieve our mission.

We're also immensely thankful for the backing of the investors we have. We're grateful they believe in our mission and in our vision to change the landscape. Watch this space!