VCs Are Hot For Mental Health Startup Breakthrough After It Wins Startup Competition

Breakthrough.com, a mental health provider of online counseling and therapy services, won the Vator Splash pitch competition last week. Since then, investors have descended on the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup.

The startup’s service allows clients, who can use their insurance to pay for the service, to sign up to talk with a counselor through video, email, phone or a chat room.

For winning the startup pitch event, CEO Mark Goldenson not only received a big bottle of wine, but he got sit-down meetings with Javelin Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners.

“The response to winning Vator Splash has been quite exciting,” Goldenson told me this week. He says that in addition to Javelin and Norwest, several other investors have called him to schedule meetings, including Aydin Senkut at Felicis Ventures and Emily Melton and Raj Kapoor at Mayfield Fund, among others.

Breakthrough, which previously raised $260,000 in seed funding from Charles River Ventures and several angel investors, already has a commitment for more capital from a prominent angel investor following the Vator event, according to a person familiar with the deal. Goldenson declined to discuss any additional funding until the financing event was officially closed.

“All of our executives work for $0 salary and our burn rate is only $15,000 per month,” he says “This means each investment goes a long way.”

To win the Vator Splash competition, which was held at San Francisco’s Café Du Nord in front of more than 300 people, Breakthrough first had to beat out more than 100 other hopeful companies in an online competition to become one of the top 25 semi-finalists. A panel of 15 judges and a popular vote whittled that list to 10 finalists. The top 10 then pitched their startup on stage at Vator Splash.

At the end of the night, a text vote was held to decide the winning startup, and Breakthrough came out on top. Even before that, a three-person panel of judges, which included Mayfield’s Kapoor and Tim Chang of Norwest, as well as Thao Tran, head of corporate development at the Washington Post Co., gave overwhelming praise to Breakthrough.

After they were tapped as winners, Goldenson (pictured above with Vator founder and CEO Bambi Francisco, left, and Breakthrough Project Manager Sarah Seegal) then took questions for about a dozen minutes from Senkut of Felicis, Rob Hayes of First Round Capital, Rick Heitzmann of Firstmark Capital and Gideon Yu of Khosla Ventures.

Goldenson says the after-party — which featured Kapoor and Chang performing on stage as part of their band CoverFlow — was the icing on the cake.

“We did indeed stay for the after-party and it’s about as close I’ve come in recent memory to feeling like a prom king,” he says.

(Photo courtesy of Vator Splash).

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