Kintsugi Raises $8M Seed to Expand Enterprise Commercialization of Rapid, Voice-Based Mental Health Screening

August 26, 2021
Alice Kim


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Berkeley-based startup, Kintsugi, is developing an API-first platform for payors, providers, and health systems to augment clinicians with AI to identify, triage, and care for patients at scale.

BERKELEY, CA - Kintsugi has announced the close of $8M in seed funding from venture and prestigious grant awards. This round of funding was led by Acrew Capital with participation from Darling Ventures, Techstars, On Deck, Citta Capital, IT-Farm, Headwater, Watershed, Zoom Founder/CEO Eric Yuan, Adam Grosser, alongside former c-suite and executives from Cigna, UnitedHealth Group, Soul Cycle, Verily, Gitlab, MIT Media Lab, Pegasystems, Pindrop, and Goldman Sachs. 

Founded in 2019, co-founders Grace Chang and Rima Seiilova-Olson set out to transform access to mental healthcare by creating a rapid screening for mental health as measured by voice signals to help practitioners identify, triage, and care for patients in the comfort of their homes. As COVID-19 accelerated virtual visits, the Kintsugi team added intelligence on top of the volume of clinical calls to facilitate fast treatment and care for all patients--reducing the time from symptom appearance to intervention as much as 8-10 years.

“Kintsugi is building differentiated technology to support an ever growing need for scale in mental healthcare,” says Vishal Lugani, General Partner at Acrew Capital. “Grace and Rima are both highly technical founders who bring to bear their experience as engineers in AI and machine learning to build infrastructure that supports provider and patient care.” 

“Mental health is a silent crisis for many patients, and for the first time, we can arm healthcare practitioners with a `psychiatrist’s ear` trained on the world’s largest dataset for machine learning and mental health,” says Grace Chang, Founder/CEO at Kintsugi. “Kintsugi’s Voice Biomarker API (KiVA) nearly doubles the accuracy of depression detection in the current standard of care. Today, General Practitioners are only able to positively identify depression in 47.3% of cases. What’s worse, mental health screening only occurs in 4.2% of primary care visits, yet a majority of mental healthcare is treated by overextended primary care physicians with limited bandwidth for behavioral health screening.” 

This new round of funding will be used to support enterprise deployments across healthcare payors in clinical call centers, telehealth platforms, and remote patient monitoring apps. Specifically, the areas that the company will focus on are:

  • Scaling Kintsugi to support 20MM clinician-led patient calls by 2022.
  • Supporting multi-site clinical trials across socioeconomically diverse populations.
  • Developing a voice biomarker standard for consistent, regular mental health screenings.

“Kintsugi provides a compelling innovation to leaders in healthcare focused on improving clinical outcomes,“ says healthcare innovator Gerald Hautman, MD and Chief Medical Officer/SVP of National Accounts at UnitedHealthcare. “COVID has dramatically increased our responsibility to address care at scale. The pandemic has forced us all to reinvent the possible and transform healthcare to better address our member needs during this pandemic and beyond.”

“As early as 1921, experienced psychiatrists were able to identify depressed patient voices. Those patients with lower pitch, more monotonous speech, and lower sound intensity were characteristic of depressed individuals,” says Rima Seiilova-Olson, Founder/Machine Learning Scientist at Kintsugi. “At Kintsugi we've developed a novel solution that provides a modern, highly scalable, secure, API-based platform that integrates seamlessly to existing telehealth and care management platforms to provide a more reliable measure of detection especially when used adjunctively with clinicians in patient-calls.”

“In the face of a global mental health pandemic, Kintsugi equips the healthcare industry with a breakthrough solution to identify those in need faster, with greater accuracy and at global scale,” says Daniel Darling, Founder and Managing Partner of Darling Ventures. “They could usher in a world where our voice unlocks as much information about our mental wellbeing as a blood draw does for our physical health. It’s inspirational.”

To date, Kintsugi has developed an award-winning consumer-facing voice journaling app to support members across the globe by tracking mental health and well-being. Kintsugi has since expanded its offering through its enterprise-facing API platform to provide clinical decision support in virtual visits across clinical call centers, telehealth platforms, and remote patient monitoring apps. Kintsugi is by referral-only and accessed by the world’s most innovative health payors, operators, and institutions. Kintsugi is based in Berkeley, California and a recipient of multiple National Science Foundation awards in developing novel AI technologies. 


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About Kintsugi 

Kintsugi is developing smarter mental healthcare infrastructure using voice biomarkers to streamline access to care. Awarded multiple distinctions for novel AI technology through the National Science Foundation, Kintsugi detects signs of clinical depression and anxiety from short clips of free-form speech, closing mental health care gaps across risk-bearing health systems, saving time and lives.

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