Kiwi startup Komodo raises $ 1.7 million to improve mental well-being in schools - Start Up Gazzete
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Kiwi startup Komodo raises $ 1.7 million to improve mental well-being in schools


Kiwi student wellness startup Komodo has secured NZ $ 1.8 million ($ 1.73 million) in seed funding, as founders Chris Bacon and Jack Wood prepare to scale in Australia and New Zealand and beyond.

SmartCompany caught up with Christchurch-based Brits to discuss bold dreams, strategic investors, and the effect of COVID-19 on schools around the world.

What is Komodo?
The startup provides a software solution that uses student data, along with surveys developed by psychologists, to identify people who may be at risk and help them address common problems such as cyberbullying, bullying, anxiety and depression. , as soon as possible.

Headed by two Brits who met at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, the startup is designed to give students the opportunity and language to talk about their own mental health and well-being at a young age.

It is proactive and preventative, helping both teachers and students get ahead of any wellness issues before they get out of hand.

“When we have those tough times around emotions and feelings, the ability to open up and have the right words is very difficult, especially when we are younger,” co-founder Chris Bacon told SmartCompany.

Bacon and co-founder Jack Wood launched Komodo in March 2018, and have since participated in the Startmate Summer 2021 cohort.

The founders refuse to share information on revenue growth, or the exact number of schools on the platform so far, but say the startup is working with “a number” of schools in New Zealand, Australia and beyond, with international interest beginning to leak.

Who are the investors?
The round was led by Aussie VC Folklore Ventures, and also included the flying Fox union of angels of Kylie Frazer and Rachael Neumann and Kiwi VC Icehouse Ventures.

Culture Amp Co-Founder Rod Hamilton and People Science Director Chloe Hamman also participated in the round.

For Bacon and Wood, the round is less about the cash and more about the experience they are bringing on board. In fact, several of the investors mentored the co-founders during their Startmate journey.

“The money is great, but we have to get the experience and exposure around us,” says Bacon.

“We have tried to be really strategic. We know we want to scale, we want to have a big impact globally. For this we have to lay the right foundation.”

Because right now?
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the massive movement toward online learning, has highlighted the importance of mental health and well-being among school-age children.

While Wood believes schools were moving in that direction anyway, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of Komodo. This is because lockdowns and isolations have meant that many students and vulnerable individuals have found themselves without their usual channels of support, be it friends, teachers, or school support staff.


“When you remove some of that for anyone really, it’s going to have an effect,” says Wood.

The pandemic has also affected almost every school and every student in the world. The problems the startup is tackling are not unique to Australian or Kiwi children; the founders are already in talks with a school in Armenia, for example.

Suddenly, the scalability of this product is very clear.

The shift to remote learning also saw the rapid adoption of more technology in schools, and children are equally teachers and more comfortable interacting online.

“This digital transformation within schools has allowed us this opportunity to go fast at it,” adds Bacon.

Whats Next?
The founders plan to use the funds to invest in recruiting. They hope to see the team triple in the next four to six months, building both their development team and their team of psychologists.

“It’s all very well incorporating psychology and science into our product, but we also want to make sure it’s there in all aspects of the business,” Wood explains.

That includes how the startup interacts with customers, supports schools, and develops new features and products.

The founders will also focus on product development, solving additional problems and working to improve the impact the business will have.

And beyond?
When asked to outline the big, bold goal for Komodo, Bacon and Wood don’t hold back.

For one thing, Bacon says that if the business has a positive impact on a student’s mental health, that will have been worth it.

On the other hand, he wants komodo is able to support any student, anywhere in the world and within any learning environment.

“My big dream is that every school uses Komodo, and that we are impacting every student’s ability to thrive.”

Wood agrees that schools should be a place where every student has the ability to be at their best.

But equally, he wants to get to a point where parents consider wellness practices in their school selection process, in the same way that they might select a school based on its academic results or athletic program.

“It’s putting wellness up there,” she says.

Author avatar
Joshua Smith

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