Sanctus raises £4.25m

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve raised £4.25m in investment led by ScaleUp Capital.

(See the Sanctus announcement post here)

It’s been a while since I’ve written about funding for Sanctus and this is the first time we’ve raised investment from an institution, all our previous investment rounds have been with individuals.

  • £500k angel round (2020)
  • 265k angel round (2018)
  • 95k angel round (2017)
  • 20k angel round (2016)

For many reasons I believe this is a significant milestone for us and is a marker in our journey to impact more people’s mental health in a positive way through coaching.

For 5 years we’ve been one of the pioneering startups in the mental health space and with relatively little investment and no venture capital funding, we’ve been able to organically grow our partner base to reach thousands of employees every month. We create life changing interactions every day where individuals are able to book one-to-one coaching sessions to talk to a Sanctus Coach about a whole range of challenges in their lives; from stress at work, career questions, relationships, leadership and a whole host of other topics that come up in our lives.

Our coaching receives phenomenal feedback and to read through any number of the thousands of feedback responses we have is always a way to make my heart swell with pride at the impact our coaches have on people.

Building a business with a lean and agile bootstrapped approach has a lot of advantages. We’ve been meticulous with our brand, we’ve been ruthless with our focus and we’ve built a proposition that is commercially viable. Yet in a fast-moving market where many other businesses are raising lots of investment and building great products too, the lean bootstrapped approach that worked so well when we were younger and when the market was younger became a bottleneck to our growth.

We now have the capital to invest in the technology we need to scale our impact both within our current partners and to more businesses too. We’ve created an underlying coaching product that is exceptional and it’s now about making accessing Sanctus Coaching as easy as ordering a takeaway or booking a taxi. There has to be no barriers for someone to get the support they need in their life.

We can order almost anything at the click of a button, why not a coaching conversation where you feel seen, listened to and get the takeaway you actually need?

In ScaleUp we have found an investment partner that understands our business. Sanctus has humanity at our core and we are proudly human-first and tech enabled, not the other way around. ScaleUp were one of the few investors that didn’t ask us if a robot could replace our coaches, or ask us mindlessly if AI could unpick someone’s tricky relationship with their manager at work. The clue is in the name, they’re here to support us in scaling the reach of our work.

I’ve often critiqued startup culture that pins investment rounds and frothy valuations as the ultimate sign of success. I still hold that view, yet it’s important not to diminish the importance of a business being well capitalised to achieve it’s goals. Raising investment is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Investment rounds are a moment to celebrate what you have built and look ahead to your next chapter. That’s exactly where we are. It’s been a great 5 years and it’s going to be an exciting next 5.

Are you going to put a mental health gym on the high street? I hear some of you ask. Not yet is the honest answer. Right now we’ve got some more work to do in workplaces up and down the country. Whether employees are in the office or working from home, we’ve got the job of creating coaching spaces that make people really feel like they are in the mental health gym, wherever they are. From there, there’s going to be a chance for us to be cutting the chord on the world’s first mental health gym on the high street. Whether it’s bricks and mortar or not, what that stands for, the world it points to - that’s very much where we are heading.

This is a big moment for me as I continue my transition out of the day-to-day running of the business. I’m maintaining an active Board and Brand Ambassador role, yet I won’t be a full time member of the team. I’ll be doing what I’ve always done; share my story, share our story, write, public speaking and make media appearances talking about our vision for the world. Truthfully, the other stuff I’ve done over the last 5 years is now in the hands of people much much more capable than me, and that feels great. More on my transition in another post soon.

Here’s to the next chapter.

James x