Brisbane-based mental health platform iNSPIRETEK has closed a $2.5 million seed round, as founder Annie Flamsteed prepares to help young athletes across the globe including children take care of their emotional wellbeing.
Led by Sydney-based venture capital firm Investible, the raise caught the attention of high-profile tech founders including 2021 Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Year Vu Tran of GO1, Matthew Browne of Donesafe and Black Nova and David Shein of Com Tech and Our Innovation Fund.
While the company had already teed up a commercial partnership with US-based community sports firm 3rd Level Consulting, a fresh $500,000 backing from SmartSports is iNSPIRETEK's round the world ticket.
“SmartSports is definitely our gateway into not only the US but Europe as well. They’ve got offices in Germany and we're doing our Series A roadshow in February,” said Flamsteed, formerly an elite gymnast.
“We'll end up going to go Europe and the US for not only the Series A but for sales expansion.”
iNSPIRETEK is used by more than 10,000 school-aged athletes and 40-plus organisations, and is looking to fast-track its reach into new markets. Accessible via mobile and web, the platform uses biometric indicators to track sleep, mood, fatigue and pain to automate mental health interventions.
“We plan to have over three million users on our platform by June 30,” Flamsteed said.
“Which is also why we're in such a hurry to get to the States and to Europe because obviously there's three million kids that do sport in Australia - we're not going to get 100 per cent market saturation.”
“We need to get into bigger, more vulnerable markets.”
The technology allows organisations to access anonymous data and track results, identify trends, as well as engage and educate users about holistic wellbeing.
“Annie is one of the more impressive young founders we have come across, and the company is focused on solving an increasingly important issue in youth sports, and in the world in general,” SmartSports chairman George Mackin explained.
iNSPIRETEK was built after Flamsteed struggled with her own mental health during her time as an elite gymnast. Growing up in Toowoomba, she dedicated herself to gymnastics from the age of 10, training 20-25 hours each week.
While she wanted to secure a spot on the junior Olympic team, her family opted to keep her close to home as they grew concerned for her mental health.
“At the time, I thought I'd never forgive my parents for not letting me do the elite stream and move to Brisbane. But I became very grateful for that as things progressed, because I was just so unwell," Flamsteed said.
Having developed panic attacks and an eating disorder in her younger years, she wondered how athletes with no support were managing to stay afloat.
“What occurred to me when I went to university and I retired from gymnastics was that this problem was so much bigger than me," she said.
“I was so fortunate to have the means to look into [therapy] and consider options like that, but there'll be so many ex-athletes that are still struggling with habits they formed to keep themselves safe during their career that don't have that kind of support or access to care around them.
“If I struggled, I just could not sleep at night worrying about all of the athletes out there that don't have that support.”
After Flamsteed's anxiety worsened in her adolescence, she became determined to help children avoid the same fate.
“I was wanting to build a platform for elite athletes and then I realised how everybody's done that before - people have built products and corporates are sponsoring the elite," said the now 26-year-old, who founded the business more than three years ago.
“But no one's sitting there going, what about the 12-year-old kids who are going to be drafted to the NRL when they're 15 or 16 years old? And they have no education around nutrition or mental health - no support for what they're stepping into.”
According to the Australian Institute of Sport’s 2018 mental health audit, one in three athletes experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression that would typically require professional care.
That same year, American Psychological Association's report Stress in America found 91 per cent of Gen Z respondents experienced physical or psychological symptoms due to stress.
“iNSPIRETEK solves a globally-prevalent problem which has seen increased visibility recently across multiple sports,” Investible investment director Daniel Veytsblit said.
“It is as important to focus on mental wellbeing as physical performance which is where global peers fall short. Coupling the broad impact of the platform, the traction to date and the high calibre management team, it is unsurprising to see further investor interest at this early stage.”
For Flamsteed, it has been a team effort to get to this stage.
“I just would love to champion our investors and my team,” she said.
“The founder is just the founder – it’s all about everyone else around them that allows them to be successful.”
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