modo co-founders (L-R): Maria Sereno, Jo Montanari, Dr Soukayna Bekkali, Peter Haasz

A Melbourne-based startup led by former leaders from Culture Amp and Linktree has raised $800,000 to launch a new mental health app that helps users declutter their minds and find clarity in the flow of everyday life.

The product has secured a number of high profile investors ahead of a planned launch in early 2024. These include: Archangel Ventures, Black Sheep Capital, Co Ventures, Giant Leap Fund, and LaunchVic’s Alice Anderson Fund, along with founders from Culture Amp and Seer.

Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Maria Sereno (ex-Linktree) said: “The app is like Marie Kondo for your mind. It’s designed to help people who feel overwhelmed, mentally strained, emotionally spent, or out of control.”

Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, Dr Soukayna Bekkali (previously of Deakin University) explains: "These experiences reflect overburdened and inefficient executive function, which encompasses brain functions and cognitive processes that are essential for daily functioning. While neurocognitive techniques can greatly enhance cognitive control, individuals often struggle to apply them consistently and effectively in daily life.”

Modo's research found that many individuals who show signs of overwhelm display traits commonly associated with being overachievers, identify as neurodivergent, or both. The research emphasises the importance of meeting the specific needs of these groups, such as being more present and focusing on what matters most.

Demand for solutions like modo is increasing, with two in three people saying they do not get the mental health support they need, according to the OECD. By 2030, the World Economic Forum projects the annual economic impact of mental health and its consequences will hit $6 trillion.

modo plans to launch with an individual subscription product in early 2024. But with a 2022 Deloitte study finding employers can expect a $5.30 return on every dollar spent on employee mental health, modo expects demand from organisations to follow quickly.

Peter Haasz, Co-Founder and CEO (ex-Culture Amp) sums it up: “People are finally waking up to the link between mental health, fulfilment in life, and effectiveness at work. modo exists to make evidence-based cognitive techniques simple, accessible and safe for everyone. For the first time, people won’t need to choose between what works, and what they’ll actually use.”

The product will open up to a select group for early access by the end of the year.

How (and why) modo works

modo's app is a digital card deck designed around evidence-based techniques to help users build healthy mental habits to improve their mental wellbeing and productivity in the flow of their everyday life. These include:

  1. Cognitive offloading and processing: With modo, users can capture every thought and feeling that enters their mind as it occurs and store it for later review. This reduces mental and emotional load in real time and frees up cognitive resources for other tasks.
  2. Targeted prompts: modo prompts users to consider different angles, perspectives, and outcomes to explore their thoughts and feelings more deeply, leading to greater clarity and insight into their mental processes.
  3. Self-reflection: modo encourages users to reflect on and monitor their thoughts and emotions over time, helping them to identify patterns and regulate their emotions more effectively.
  4. Abstraction laddering: modo helps users connect complex thoughts to larger intentions or break them into smaller steps, reducing working memory load, and promoting consistency between actions, thoughts and beliefs.
  5. Inhibitory control: modo nudges users to deliberately earmark thoughts that are “on the go”, making it easier to maintain attention and let go of distractions, resulting in improved focus and productivity.
  6. Task completion: modo prompts users to close open loops and resolve lingering thoughts where possible. This helps reduce mental clutter by leveraging the Zeigarnik effect, which states that unfinished tasks and thoughts are more likely to stay on our minds.

Investor Quotes

“It is rare you meet such a thoughtful and impressive team, chasing a problem so perfectly fit to their skills and experiences. The impact that modo could have is enormous, and this team couldn't be better placed to unlock that impact. Co Ventures is delighted to be backing them.” — Co Ventures General Partner, Maxine Minter

“modo’s outstanding team, with a track record in neuroscience, tech startups, and design, was what excited us at Giant Leap VC. Their expertise and passion for combatting mental health and overwhelm make them a standout company.” — Giant Leap Managing Partner, Will Richardson

“LaunchVic, through the Alice Anderson Fund, is delighted to announce our co-investment in modo. The modo team are passionate about translating science into practice and making a real difference to peoples’ lives at scale. Co-Founder Dr Soukayna Bekkali has made the impressive leap from the academic world into startups, joining top talent from Victorian unicorns Culture Amp and Linktree.” — LaunchVic CEO, Dr Kate Cornick

“modo's mission to address avoidable stress by changing unhelpful thinking styles resonated deeply with the Black Sheep team. We are acutely aware of the long-term impact of stress and actively seek to manage our stress levels. We are excited to support modo's experienced and diverse team in tackling such a challenging issue.” — Black Sheep Capital Director, Daniel Gavel

“Given my time working with Peter and Jo at Culture Amp, I jumped at the chance to work with the modo team on their mission to build a category defining product and solve one of modern life’s greatest problems: How do I achieve my most important objectives without ruining my mental health?” — Archangel Ventures Co-Founder & Partner, Quentin Wallace

About modo

modo helps diverse communities around the world to improve their mental wellbeing by making evidence-based cognitive techniques useful, easy, and rewarding to integrate into daily life. Our vision is that the way people manage what’s on their mind creates ripple effects that make the world a happier and healthier place.

modo was founded by a diverse team who all need modo for themselves: Dr. Soukayna Bekkali (Chief Science Officer, ex-Academic), Maria Sereno (Chief Product Officer, ex-Linktree), Jo Montanari (Chief Technology Officer, ex-Culture Amp) and Peter Haasz (CEO, ex-Culture Amp).

modo is based in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia) on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country.


Peter Haasz, Co-Founder & CEO

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