citybiz+ Mental-health Startup Forte Closes on $3.3 Million Seed Round

Mental-health startup Forte, previously known as Paraclete, has raised $3.3 million in a seed round, CEO Vineet Rajan said on LinkedIn, along with a link to an Axios report.

The round was led by Tom Blaisdell of AlignPact, an entrepreneurial advisory firm based in Los Altos, Calif. Cubit Capital (Dallas, Texas), Fairbridge Park (New York) and private equity firm Sovereign’s Capital (Atlanta, Ga.) also participated.

In 2022, the Highland, Md.-based Forte raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round from Sovereign’s Capital, Blaisdell, and Henry Kaestner, co-founder and former CEO of Bandwidth.  Members of Potomac Angel Capital, including Nehemiah Security co-founders Paul Farrell and Todd Bramblett, also joined the round.

‘Work Is Not Everything’

Rajan, a former US Marine, and his classmate at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, William Norvell, co-founded Forte with the goal of enhancing employees’ access to mental-health counseling. Its program, called SoulCare, allows employees to identify their own counselors and sign up for unlimited sessions.

“While work is an important part of who we are, it’s not all of who we are,” Rajan, who joined the Marines after the 9/11 attacks, said after closing the pre-seed round in 2022. Rajan believes that it is not enough for leaders to call people their “most valuable asset.” The leaders also need to “start treating workers as fully human — with thoughts and emotions related to things other than work.”

With Forte, Rajan is bidding to implement that philosophy, as well as lessons he learnt as an officer in the US Marines for over a decade. Rajan says he discovered how ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when they feel “valued and accepted for who they really are.”

‘Reality Checks Necessary’

Forte’s customers include Google for Startups, Aleo, nextrev Technologies, Cornerstone Support and Prince of Peace.

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“We intentionally select our ‘guides’ to reflect the different experiences, demographics, and backgrounds of our society,” said Norvell, who serves as the company’s chief operating officer. “Every guide is expertly trained in SoulCare and workplace dynamics, so every user has a safe place to pause and process the realities of life.”

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Prior to Forte, William spent a decade in private equity, venture capital and investment banking. He received an MBA from the Stanford business school and a BS in Finance, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Alabama.

Rajan received an MBA and a Certificate in Public Management & Social Innovation from Stanford University and a Masters in International Relations (with distinction) from the University of Cambridge. He lives in Washington, D.C.