A Brazilian startup named TNH Health, which makes an artificial intelligence-enabled chatbot, announced a $2 million Series A funding round from Valor Capital Group and individual health entrepreneurs.
Founded in 2013, the company is headquartered in Rio Negrinho, Santa Catrina, Brazil, and has offices in Joinville and São Paulo.
WHAT THEY DO
The chatbot, dubbed Vitalk, will communicate with users about their health concerns via Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, web channels, SMS and Android and iOS. Users can download a free Portuguese service on Facebook Messager. Currently, the startup is focusing on mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression. The tool was created by a team of clinicians including psychologists, nurses, doctors, data scientists and designers.
Vitalk, and its coach called Viki, aren’t meant to replace therapy, the company said. Rather, they are meant to prevent potential issues later on down the road.
"Vitalk is not a replacement for a medical appointment, nor therapy, and it is certainly not a diagnosis, but it is a great way of resolving day-to-day health and wellness issues to prevent problems down the line," CEO of TNH Health Michael Kapps, said in a statement.
WHAT IT’S FOR
The new money will go towards promoting the chatbot. It is also looking to expand its efforts internationally to the US. The leadership team is also planning on expanding services beyond mental health specialties to include chronic illnesses and pregnancy.
Chatbots have been a popular tool in digital mental health. UpLift Health, a digital mental health company that employs a chatbot function, landed $1 million in seed funding over the summer. Another name in the space is Woebot, an AI mental health chatbot that first debuted as a Facebook Messenger app in 2017. Since then it has become a smartphone app. In 2018 it landed $8 million in Series A funding.
Stakeholders have had their eyes on Brazil’s growing digital health market for the better part of a decade. A 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report predicted a $46.6 million health app market in Brazil by 2015.
However, South America in general has lagged behind the US, Asia and Europe when it comes to deals. According to the latest Startup Health funding report, no South American city broke into the top ten health hubs in the world. With more than 200 million people and a universal healthcare system, many are viewing the country with potential. However, spending is still relatively low on mental health services, according to The Rio Times.
“It is impossible to address the gaps in primary care and mental health in Brazil without applying technologies like artificial intelligence” Kapps said in a statement.