- London-based mental health startup Oliva is coming out of stealth mode after a $2.9 million pre-seed raise.
- Founded by TravelPerk cofounder Javier Suarez, it took just 20 days to raise the cash.
- Suarez hopes to make mental health support more accessible after his own difficult experience.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Workplace mental health programs have become more prevalent thanks to reduced stigma and as employers grapple with the impact of the coronavirus on staff.
One new player in the field is Oliva, a London-based company that provides therapy and personalized mental health plans to employees. Founded in 2019 by Javier Suarez, previously cofounder of travel management firm TravelPerk, the startup is coming out of stealth mode with the launch of its full product and a £2.2 million ($2.9 million) pre-seed investment round, which it raised in just 20 days.
The round was led by Moonfire Ventures, the new seed fund from Atomico cofounder Mattias Ljungman. Around 15 angels also backed the service, including founders and C-levels at Typeform, Hotjar and TravelPerk.
The pandemic helped to fuel the rapid funding round, which was double the amount Suarez had intended to raise, because investors did not need to be “convinced” of a problem.
“The problem is clear in everyone’s mind,” Suarez told Insider. “They see their teams and the companies that they work in, and they see the struggle.”
Suarez could not have predicted the pandemic when he began working on Oliva, which came after his own battle with poor mental health while running TravelPerk.
He said: “I started suffering from anxiety and imposter syndrome. It was kind of like my first encounter with mental health. It kind of blew my mind how difficult it was to find that help.”
A new father, Suarez felt the pressures of running a business while balancing a healthy family life and says he did not build a “framework of resilience” around himself.
It took him five attempts to find the right therapist and type of care, he says. After bringing in a professional executive to lead TravelPerk, Suarez transitioned into an advisory role and “thought he was done with startups”.
But he was back at it after just one month, determined to make mental health support more accessible and affordable. Then the pandemic sent shockwaves across the world and businesses went remote, leading to a huge spike in employee burnout and wellbeing issues.
Suarez said: “Companies have realized that they can’t ignore that it’s a problem. They are literally seeing the employees just fade out from week to week, you know, and just leave, or they just call in sick.”
According to a 2020 Deloitte report, poor mental health costs employers in the UK £45 billion ($61 billion), while mental health charity Mind estimates that one in every six workers experience issues at any one time.
Oliva, which can be integrated into
, works by creating data-driven profiles of both therapists and employees, who are then matched up based on need and expertise. Partner businesses can use one-to-one sessions for all employees, personal therapy courses, and manager training courses.
Suarez hopes to set a new standard in workplace mental healthcare and inspire better policies through anonymized data, which can reveal issues and trends across the workforce.
For example, if presentations are found to cause anxiety amongst managers, Oliva will suggest they are put on public speaking courses.
The company launched Wednesday with 50 partners and expects to onboard a further five each month.
Currently based in the UK and Spain and available only in English, the cash injection will support recruitment, product development and further expansion across Europe.
Suarez expects to grow the team of ten to 15 full-time employees by the end of the year, supported by 100 freelance psychologists.
Check out Oliva’s pre-seed pitch deck: