A mental support startup virtually connecting people with bespoke strangers has raised $18 million

Ten years ago, when Jack Chou was in his early thirties, he had the worst year of his life.

“My LinkedIn profile looked great, I had all these reasons to be happy but I was having a terrible time,” Chou says. “At the time I didn’t think it was a mental health issue, I thought it was life, high pressure work and the fact that my wife and I had just had our first child. “

It took a while for Chou to come to terms with it as a mental health challenge — which, to his surprise, was shared by many people. So he decided to quit his high-profile job (and what many would consider a dream in the Bay Area) and started Pace, a mental health startup we match normal people with complete strangers to meet. in virtual emotional health groups.

Earlier this month, Pace announced it had raised $18 million, including $15 million in a Series A led by Pace Capital with participation from Sequoia and BoxGroup, following a round of previously unannounced $5 million table led by Sequoia Capital.

Chou says people come with all sorts of issues, usually normal life situations, and they’re paired with a facilitator who leads the group and is a licensed mental health clinician in his day job.

“We bring them through technology to talk, have conversations, and feel understood by people who are going through something similar,” Chou says.

When a potential member wishes to join the Pace, the platform asks them a few questions to understand what they are going through in life, then offers an optional option to do a short interview to better understand where they are at. The initial commitment is to intervene for 10 weeks with one meeting per week lasting 90 minutes.

Members pay $89 per month and each group is usually made up of 7 people led by a facilitator. Groups are designed in a way that makes sense to members, such as the nature of why they decided to join the platform.

Chou says that today virtually all revenue goes to the enablers, but he believes that over time, if Pace continues to improve, they will also have the opportunity to make a margin for the business.

Chou, who has a degree in computer science from Stanford, previously worked at Oracle, Google, LinkedIn and as a product manager at Pinterest, co-founded Pace with Cat Lee (COO of Pace) with whom he worked at Pinterest, and Alex Shye (CTO of Pace) who he grew up with in the Bay Area town of Los Altos.

Pace, headquartered in San Francisco, currently employs 14 full-time staff and about 80 animators.

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