Emocional raises €400,000 fund to accelerate its technological development – #BHHMembersInitiatives

BHH member Emocional, recently born on 1 May 2022 in Girona, has just closed its first round of funding with 400,000 euros. Emocional is the only company in the world that has developed a technological solution for companies, working in hybrid or remote format, capable of detecting in real time the level of stress and burnout of their workers through video calls. The aim is to achieve healthy work environments through rapid and anonymous intervention, preventing psychosocial and productivity risks, which in Spain also result in costs of approximately 300,000 euros per 100 employees.

The capital raised, which Emocional will use to improve its algorithm as well as to hire new profiles to expand its team, is the result of a pre-seed financing round (or seed round in the initial phase of raising investment), and comes from Spanish and German investment funds, as well as private investors, the so-called business angels that provide capital to start-ups.

The start-up currently has a team of 13 employees, with an average age of 28, made up mainly of psychologists, engineers, experts in artificial intelligence and computer vision. By the end of the year, the company plans to have a physical headquarters in Barcelona (the company was born offshore) and expects to have expanded the team to 50 people.

The founders, Pedro J. Espinosa García, psychologist and current CEO of the company, and Aniol Hervás Royo, expert engineer in AI and current COO, launched Emocional because they had detected a new market niche. In June 2021 they launched a psychology marketplace, Synaptiko, to help people find a psychologist. “As a result of listening to our clients, we realized that 76% of them came to us because of work-related stress and we decided to create Emocional project, focused on offering a service to companies that wanted to know the state of mental health of their workers and, consequently, be able to take the appropriate measures to achieve an emotionally sustainable and productive company”, explains Pedro J. Espinosa. In November of this year, the third co-founder, Marc Cortés Rofes, also an expert in AI, will officially join the project and will hold the position of CDO or digital director.

In November 2021 the three partners conceptualised Emocional and in March 2022, during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, they presented the first demo version. Last May they made the official launch and in two months of trajectory they already have a portfolio of 22 companies in 4 European countries. Emocional has also won two awards: Best HR start-up in Spain, awarded by the CENTRHO Association (Aedipe) and Best Industry 4.0 start-up in Spain, by the Digital Enterprise Show (DES), an international congress that this year was attended by Barack Obama.

The initial investment for the activation of the company has been 170,000 euros: 100,000 euros of own investment and 70,000 euros from ENISA (participative loan promoted by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism). The internationalization plan is planned for February 2023.

How Emocional works

Emocionalis a software that integrates into video calls (Meets, Zoom, Slack, Teams…) and detects the emotional state of employees in real time from non-verbal communication (facial expressions, head and hand movements…). This early detection is carried out thanks to a neural network, based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) models, which identifies patterns indicative of stress and burnout.

The information is collected by the employee and Human Resources (HR), a department in which they receive the information anonymously. Emocional’s own software offers the employee an individualized action plan, based on their specific indicators, with the necessary tools -coaching, therapy, group sessions, etc.- to reduce stress and/or manage it in the most adaptive way.

Emocional is in the cloud and is very easy to install and use for the company and the employees. The company only has to register on the platform and upload the employee database. Workers activate their account, if they wish, with a single click. Marc Cortés points out that “the worker has the option to activate or deactivate Emocional and all the data is 100% encrypted, it is 100% anonymous. HR only has access to aggregate data, not personal data”.

The HR department has its own control panel in Emocional, where they visualize the levels of stress and well-being of its teams -with comparisons and indicators over time-, risk profiles or weekly status reports. From this dashboard, the company can also take action by proposing preventive actions to the teams, such as stress management sessions, assertive communication sessions, etc.

In addition, Emocional also promote a healthy working environment through tools available to employees, such as the “EmotiCoins”, Emocional’s virtual currency, which can be exchanged for coaching sessions, therapy or team activities. The “EmotiCoins” also becomes a tool to appreciate work colleagues because they can be given to those who have inspired good practices at work, as a sign of companionship.

The cost of implementing the software depends on the size of the company. It is a monthly subscription that will have a different price depending on the number of employees that the company has on staff. However, the cost per employee is always less than 10 euros per month.

Mental health impacts: work environment and related health costs

More than 50% of absences from work are related to mental health, according to 2021 data from the European Agency for Occupational Health and Safety at Work (OSHA). In addition, new hybrid and online work formats, along with the covid-19 pandemic, have led to a spike in cases, with 28% of Europeans (40 million) now suffering from work-related stress, according to OSHA’s previous report. In addition, mental health disorders in Spain cost 4.2% of GDP (around 40,000 million euros) annually, i.e. an average of approximately 300,000 euros per 100 employees, according to a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Globally, depression and anxiety cost the world economy 1 trillion dollars a year, according to a joint report by the World Bank and the WHO.