GV leads Brightline's $72M boost to expand virtual therapy services for kids, teens

Startup Brightline scored $72 million to fuel the national expansion of its virtual behavioral health solution designed specifically to support children, teenagers, and their families.

The Silicon Valley company has lined up notable venture capital and payer investors.

GV (formerly Google Ventures) led Brightline’s series B round, with participation from new investors Optum Ventures, 7wireVentures, and Gaingels, the leading venture investment syndicate in support of diversity and representing the LGBTQ community and allies. Debra Lee, chairman and CEO Emeritus, BET Networks, also contributed to the round as an independent investor. 

Returning investors in the round include Oak HC/FT, Threshold Ventures, Blue Shield of California, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, SemperVirens VC and City Light Capital.

The round includes $7 million of venture debt from Silicon Valley Bank. Brightline has now raised a total of nearly $100 million in funding to date. 

Brightline, formerly Emilio Healthcare, developed a technology-enabled behavioral health home for children and their families. The company's growth comes at a time when rates of behavioral health conditions are skyrocketing across the country and having a disproportionate impact on working families—leading to rampant productivity loss and employees leaving the paid workforce in droves, according to Brightline.

RELATED: Children's Hospital Los Angeles launches accelerator for pediatric digital health

Around 10 million American mothers living with their school-age children were not working at the start of 2021, a 1.4 million increase over the previous year, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Brightline’s own survey of working parents and caregivers found that 50% reported losing significant productivity at work in caring for their children’s behavioral health needs. 

There is a need for family-oriented solutions to deliver behavioral health care services, according to Brightline executives.

“In the past year, families everywhere have felt the impact of the pandemic on their children and daily lives. We’re seeing more children, adolescents, and teens than ever with behavioral health challenges—now is the time for us to get ahead of the coming wave of need,” said Naomi Allen, Brightline CEO and co-founder in a statement. “We are fortunate to have incredible partners in GV and all of our investors who joined us to make a difference in the lives of children and families. The latest funding will allow us to innovate even more quickly, expand rapidly, and help more children and families get the care they deserve.” 

Brightline will use the cash infusion to scale its virtual care across the country—fueling the company's growth as it partner with leading national employers and major health plans to bring behavioral health support to families, according to the company.

“CDC data shows that an estimated 1 in 5 U.S. children has a diagnosed mental or behavioral health condition—yet 80% will not get the care they need. Pediatric behavioral health care is often less accessible and comprehensive than care for adults,” said Ben Robbins, psychiatrist and venture partner at GV who is joining Brightline’s board of directors. “Brightline addresses the huge unmet need of pediatric behavioral health services and is uniquely positioned to provide multiple levels of care based on the needs of patients and families.”

Livongo founder Glen Tullman, now CEO of Transcarent and managing partner at 7wireVentures, and Laura Veroneau, partner at Optum Ventures, are joining Brightline as board observers. 

Brightline also announced that they are embarking on their biggest expansion to date, introducing new products with nationwide availability and expanding clinical services to new states.

Launched in 2019, Brightline's platform offers multidisciplinary care teams, a family-focused approach and evidence-based care delivery.

Telehealth helps to make mental health care easier to access for kids by doing away with some of the logistical burdens of getting to and from frequent appointments.

RELATED:  Hazel Health lands $33M as it expands at-home and in-school pediatric virtual care

There are a few pediatric startups making inroads in the digital health market. Hazel Health operates virtual care clinics inside the school nurse's office to connect students to a physician via telehealth and recently landed a $33 million funding round. Sprout, a tech-enabled autism care and treatment program, launched in July on the back of $10 million in seed funding.

Daybreak Health is another startup trying to tackle the gaps in mental health care for kids. The company launched in February 2020 and specializes in providing online counseling services, especially for teens.

Brighline has launched new products with nationwide availability and is expanding clinical services to new states. The company's Connect feature, which provides families access to personalized content and tips, interactive exercises and the ability to chat with a coach for support, will be available nationwide this summer.

The Brightline Coaching feature also expands nationwide this summer, which provides families with support from behavioral health coaches to help with issues like stress, anxiety, organizational skills, tantrums, disruptive behavior and social-emotional learning.

Brightline Care will be available nationwide by the end of 2021 to support national employers and health plans, the company said. Brightline’s clinical services—including behavior therapy, medication support, and speech therapy—are now available in California and Massachusetts, with Washington launching in July and several more states coming soon. Brightline expects to expand these services to all 50 states by the end of this year.