Although mental health awareness has increased in recent years, that doesn’t mean mental health treatment has become more accessible. Receiving professional help can be expensive and uncomfortable. For some, finding affordable, anonymous support may be a better solution.
HearMe provides anonymous peer-to-peer chats that match trained listeners to users who need to vent about daily stressors. HearMe is designed to be an affordable alternative for accessing mental health support. We reached out to founder and CEO Adam Lippin to learn about the inspiration behind the company and the importance of human connection.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
HearMe is a mental health and wellness (peer support) platform that enables genuine human connection and combats loneliness and disconnection. We use evidence-based methodologies of peer support to connect users with trained empathetic listeners through a mobile platform. We have had over 125,000 downloads, trained over 22,000 listeners, and facilitated hundreds of thousands of text-based connections and interactions. We do this all in a safe, secure, HIPAA-compliant manner. We consistently invest in our community with training and management to ensure quality listeners. We’ve solved for the big three issues in the field of mental wellness – immediacy, access, and affordability.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
After my first company exit, I founded Cuddlist, a professional marketplace for a new form of touch-based healing. Many of our members began reaching out and searching for support in other ways than touch and were simply looking for a way to connect with another human to combat loneliness and disconnection. This really resonated with me on a personal level. Growing up knowing I was gay, I didn’t have the resources to connect with someone who could share in my lived experience. I strongly believe that the first step to major societal mental, emotional, and physical ills comes from loneliness and disconnection and can be solved by human connection. I’m incredibly proud to have built the exact resource that could have made my life a lot happier and healthier.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
I’ve been a founder since my early 20s, identifying niche markets and markets that are on the brink of development. I founded, scaled, and sold Atomic Wings, a restaurant franchise and brand in NYC, and currently use that experience and the experience of running Cuddlist to lead HearMe. I’ve been blessed to have been joined early on by Global Health Strategies as a capital partner, as their experience tackling huge global health issues has proved to be invaluable.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
Our vision is to create a space for the evidence-based healing modality of peer support to thrive and flourish. People tend to forget the resources around them and the power of authentic human connection. Much like therapy was stuck inside of antiquated business models for decades and also had a high level of stigma disconnecting it from public use, we are at the beginning of a new movement in peer support. The reality of the power of sharing lived experiences and the impact that a space like HearMe can have on a person is really just the beginning for this new market.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Our team is built from all different backgrounds and from all areas around the world – much like our members! I love the fact that we are living our model of global human connection through our team members. Our development team has passionate privacy and security experts, which allows us to maintain a core feature of the platform: anonymity. Our community management team comes with social work and psychology backgrounds, and our COO comes from the digital health space. We’re also joined by our capital partner, Global Health Strategies. It’s been a journey assembling our team, and I’m proud that each one of our team members are crazy passionate about enhancing human connection through peer support.
Do you have any competition, and if so, how do you differentiate?
The peer support market is adjacent to the therapy provider market, so you’re going to see the big therapy players in our competitive matrix like Talkspace, BetterHelp, etc. Closer to us in peer support are platforms like 7 Cups, Therapeer, TalkLife, and Sanvello. While many of these provide a level of peer support, much of the focus is placed on upleveling to bigger therapy providers. We’re committed to being hyper-focused on this new market of peer support. A venture capitalist in Dallas told me a while back something that I really agree with: the model of therapist to patient has an inherent supply issue. There will never be enough therapists to meet the demand. It’s a big scaling problem. We’re not interested in replacing therapy. Rather, we’ve set out to showcase the benefits and access that come with a truly scalable human peer model.
What does your business model look like?
We launched as a free platform back in March 2020, and since then, we have had over 125,000 downloads, with hundreds of thousands of interactions. This allowed us to iterate and listen to our members, and now we’re at a stage to move forward towards monetization. We’re launching a premium consumer version of the platform in Q4 and are actively building partnerships with universities and enterprises alike. For the university and enterprise clients, we act as a software-as-a-system model to allow for customization based on the partner needs.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
My team and I felt that equity crowdfunding was the perfect representation of the values of our platform – democratization and access! Our experience so far with equity crowdfunding has allowed people of all backgrounds and income levels to place investments in a company they believe in. Our biggest success isn’t measured by the size of the round – rather, by the fact that we’re able to facilitate our users to own a piece of the platform they love! Our round is laser-focused on bringing this premium consumer version to the market and securing more beta clients in the university and enterprise markets.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
As we create new spaces and platforms in a digital age of mental health, I’d like for potential investors to reflect on how new markets are made. Much like telemedicine, legalization of cannabis, and life coaching, markets can be developed in incredibly fast and innovative ways. I’ve personally always been entrenched in creating new markets, double-sided marketplaces, and large communities and have decades of leadership experience as a business owner. We are at a new moment of peer support becoming the most sustainable model for mental health support.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Just as BetterHelp and Talkspace have become household names in the therapy space, my vision is for HearMe to be the absolute market leader for someone feeling lonely, disconnected, and needing real-time access to support. We currently are positioned for exit opportunities with larger mental health providers, healthcare payer groups, and larger technology and social platforms. This is a new market that is rapidly evolving and changing, and our positioning in terms of market timing couldn’t be better.
We look forward to seeing where Adam and his team take the company.