In the age of Facebook and mobile messaging apps, you could be excused for thinking that SMS was on the fast track to extinction. But one New York startup has built a service that issues bite-sized advice each day via text message, designed to improve confidence and general mental wellbeing.
Founded in 2016 by Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey, Shine is one of a number of fledgling startups that have come to the fore in recent times to help people destress and keep calm. Shine’s first product — Shine Text — is fairly simple. You sign up by submitting your name and mobile phone number, after which you receive a message each day of the week (excluding weekends) that may include articles, quotes, and actions you can take to improve your mental wellbeing.
Today, Shine announced a $5 million investment in a series A round of funding led by Comcast Ventures, with participation from Betaworks, Felix Capital, the New York Times, Eniac Ventures, Female Founders Fund, and BBG Ventures. This takes its total funding past the $8 million mark, including a $2.5 investment less than a year ago, and with its latest tranche it said that it plans to grow its team and “enhance and scale the suite of products using messaging and audio,” according to a statement issued by the company.
The company also revealed that it now has more than two million users across 189 countries, a figure that has doubled from just three months ago when it launched its first mobile app, which serves motivational audio tracks directly to users’ iPhones. Though the app is free, users can unlock premium features with a $7.99 (monthly) or $59.99 (yearly) membership.
Mindfulness and meditation has increasingly attracted the attention of VCs. Headspace raised a chunky $37 million round last summer, taking its total funding past $75 million, while Simple Habit nabbed a smaller $2.5 million round. Elsewhere, Digg cofounder Kevin Rose launched a meditation app last year called Oak. And Calm — which was cofounded by Mind Candy’s Michael Acton Smith in 2012 — is reportedly close to announcing a major round of funding at a $250 million valuation.