Feel Therapeutics and Genesis Ventures
“Mental health conditions are increasing worldwide and, according to the WHO, affect close to half a billion people globally. Today, nearly one in five people in the US live with a mental illness. This figure is equivalent to more than the entire population of California. Depression alone affects 300 million people worldwide today, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that by 2030, it will be the leading cause of disease burden globally.” says George Eleftheriou, the co-founder of Feel Therapeutics

The company (formerly known as Sentio Solutions), develops biomarkers and digital therapeutics to change the way people diagnose, manage, and care for mental health. Their digital therapeutic and wellbeing programs for Stress, Depression & Anxiety combine continuous remote patient monitoring, using a proprietary emotion-sensing wearable device, with digital interventions and telehealth to provide proactive interventions and mental health support 24/7/365. 

The two co-founders, George Eleftheriou and Dr. Haris Tsirmpas started Feel back in 2015 with a mission to bring objective measurement to mental health. George reminisces: “When Haris and I founded the company a few years ago, we had both recently struggled with our mental health. We both started psychotherapy, and, while it was extremely helpful and a hugely valuable investment, we felt strongly that there was a real need - and a real opportunity - to modernize and improve the delivery of psychological treatments.”
During the last few years, there have been a number of findings for George and the Feel team, such as that "Big ships turn slowly, but when they move their impact is enormous. You need to think long-term and be patient when you are dealing with large pharma or healthcare organizations. You also have to solve a problem worth solving. Something that will get you out of bed every day with excitement and purpose, and drive you to keep going when things get tough."

But how big is the problem Feel’s solving? Again, according to George: “With mental health conditions on the rise, healthcare systems are facing a huge strain, and societies are facing huge costs trying to meet the challenge. Mental health disorders cost the US economy more than $1 trillion annually. What’s more, mental health issues are a key predictor of high healthcare costs - among those suffering from chronic disease, co-morbid mental health issues raise total healthcare costs per patient by around 2-3 times. Care providers are struggling to respond to the challenge posed by mental health disorders while, for many patients who do receive treatment, inadequate quality of care continues to be a problem.” Feel is primarily partnering with big pharmaceutical companies in the USA to bring their digital therapeutics to market alongside their medications and has also worked with large insurance providers like SCOR and Gothaer, employers, and healthcare providers. 

Feel Therapeutics is one of the first portfolio companies of Genesis Ventures; the newly established early-stage angel co-investment fund co-founded by Stergios Anastasiadis and Dimitris Maroulis, and backed by the European Investment Fund. Dimitris stated that “Feel perfectly embodies our investment thesis; a super strong and visionary founding team, tackling an important and difficult to solve problem, in a huge and fast-growing market. The company employs 30 people, out of which 25 in Greece, so we are also very glad to see more such pioneering companies willing to hire talent here”. Feel’s team in Athens continues to grow and you can apply here.
Other angel investors joining Genesis in this round include Bill Lucia, former CEO of HMS, a healthcare analytics company that exited for $3.4 Billion to Gainwell, and Philippos Kourkoulos-Latsis, an active angel investor, especially interested in pioneering startups addressing particular needs and significantly improving peoples’ daily lives. Philippos stated that “My vote of confidence in Feel Therapeutics naturally follows my belief and confidence in the Greek scientific community’s top-notch talent & tech ecosystem. The innovative solution developed by the team effectively addresses current gaps in the fast-growing market of tech-enabled personal health and marks a great beginning of the evolution of the health tech sector”. Bill mentioned that “The global mental health crisis was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought extended periods of social isolation and psychological distress. To solve this global challenge, we need smart, digital, data-driven mental health solutions like Feel Therapeutics to develop digital biomarkers and endpoints that will help us measure mental health objectively for improved outcomes”. 

In the next few months, Feel’s plan is “to launch partnerships with some of the major global players in big pharma. Also, we are aiming for FDA approval for the first data-driven digital therapeutics solution for depression & anxiety, to support the millions of people that suffer from these conditions.” George underlines. Feel’s vision, however, goes beyond that: “We envision a world where objective data and digital therapeutics are used to provide immediate support and 24/7 care to people suffering from mental health issues. A new era where those technologies and data allow us to augment existing treatment options for mental conditions, and provide real-time, personalized care and support, exactly when it is needed, around the clock. At the same time, families and carers will be notified when patients are at risk, and healthcare providers will be able to base their assessments on objective data.”