Based in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), the wellness edtech startup has secured new funding to fuel its mission to impede student suicides.
Rhithm, a mental and emotion wellness training and content platform secured a $4 million seed round funding led by Reach Capital. The other investors include SJF Ventures, Red House Education and Edovate Capital. With the increase in investment, the company's total funding is $4.5 million.
In an interview, Josh Knutson, Co-founder and CEO, stated that "Rhithm is a mechanism to improve the next generation of humanity at-scale so that they don't experience the same problems that we're experiencing so that they don't cause more problems than we haven't even caused and they can more effectively solve the problems that we've created."
He added that the company already sees real-world impacts. In one district, students who experienced emotional distress and cut themselves could receive help, preventing a potential fight from taking place on campus.
"We pivoted well to the learning environment that the pandemic brought to be able to give kids and staff an outlet," said Jake Gannon, Rhithm Co-founder and President. All this growth occurred in the absence of marketing. We are truly seeking to harness that positive energy around the problem we are solving, and educators, administrators, and children recognize this."
The FERPA-compliant Rhithm platform has their students and staff take a quick emoji-based survey to check their mental state, energy level and physical health, and social and emotional state. Later, it uploads the data into a dashboard for teachers and districts to track individuals and macro trends occurring across campuses and districts.
Rhithm was founded in 2019 and launched approximately two months before the new coronavirus touched the world. It focuses on education from kindergarten to grade 12. Gannon stated that initially, it was a struggle; the crisis and the remote learning accelerated the demand for Rhithm's platform, especially as increased social media use has been shown to drive feelings of anxiety and depression.
"It's like this two-way street where (the pandemic is) accelerates these mental health issues, and it accelerates our ability to address them on a large scale," Knutson said. "We now have tools for each student, and it's much easier to put them in front of them."
Rapid and unprepared acceleration led to explosive growth for Rhithm. The startup currently serves approximately 130 districts, representing approximately 1,200 campuses and 100,000 students, predominantly Texas and Arkansas. In the month of August, it became a post-revenue company. Gannon mentioned that Rhithm had revenues of approximately $1.2 million over the past nine months and projected revenues of approximately $2 million in 2021.
Gannon added, "For kids, it meets them with a model that they're already using. It adds another rhythm to something they all know." To keep up with that growth, the company is looking to hire. The team has recently expanded from three to about six. Currently, eight positions are posted online, including openings for a director of software engineering, a director of operations and a clinical media manager.
While Knutson stated that in the future, Rhithm is likely to extend to other sectors like higher education and B2B services, its target remains K-12 education, where it already has a 1% market share. He hopes that number will rise to about 30 per cent in the coming two years with the new funding. He also added that the company expects to reduce student suicides by 60%.
"We have all sorts of health care crossovers, we're going to be putting mental health care providers into this app too, but we want to say, 'Hey, let's not get too unfocused," Knutson said.
To date, Rhithm has had three financing cycles. Redhouse Education and Edovate Capital are the latest investors.