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**AI-Powered Coach App Sunnyside Raises $11.5M for Launch**

“Sober curious” and “mindful drinking” have become popular terms in recent …

In recent times, the phrases “serene curiosity” and “conscious drinking” have surged in popularity, reflecting a growing trend where 47% of adults in the United States aim to decrease their alcohol consumption. Sunnyside, a company promoting healthy eating habits, announced today that it has secured $11.5 million in Series A funding from Motley Fool Ventures, with substantial backing from Will Venture. This financial injection will support Sunnyside in launching its innovative AI companion for mindful eating, named “Sunny,” which provides recommendations to the company’s team of human coaches.

Among the investors in this round is Michael Lee, the former leader of MyFitnessPal, and a consortium including Uncork Capital, Offline Ventures, Joyance Partners, Wisdom Venture, Eudemian Ventures, Adjacent, and Scribble projects. Sunnyside has amassed a total of $14.6 million in funding thus far.

Accompanying the funding announcement is the introduction of Steve Lloyd, the company’s Chief Product and Technology Officer. Lloyd previously held a similar role at the fitness application, Strava.

Lloyd mentioned that he adopted Sunnyside two years ago to take charge of his dietary habits. He expressed, “Right from the start, there was no judgment or guilt about deviating from my usual routine; just positive reinforcement and acknowledgment that breaking ingrained habits isn’t always easy.” Eager to leverage his wellness and systems expertise, Lloyd looks forward to contributing to Sunnyside’s mission of fostering a supportive community to aid individuals on their mindful drinking journey.

Sunnyside’s app, priced at \(99 annually, offers features such as daily drink tracking, SMS reminders to help users stay aligned with their goals, personalized one-on-one coaching, and an online community chat for sharing successes and setbacks. The cost is comparable to Reframe, a similar app priced at \)8.33 per month or $100 per year.

A built-in analytics tool calculates the financial and energy savings achieved through reduced alcohol consumption. Users can engage in challenges like a 30-day alcohol detox or a competition with friends to cut alcohol intake by 50%. Additionally, a premium subscription priced at $298 per year provides weekly Zoom sessions with coaches and faster response times. Sunnyside also offers a free 15-day trial for immediate insights on cutting back alcohol consumption before committing to a membership.

Credits for the image: Sunnyside

Sunnyside’s latest AI mindful drinking coach aims to support coaches by offering direct responses to members’ queries. Sunny provides guidance on maintaining commitment to goals, such as limiting alcohol intake at social gatherings. Instead of instant responses, the AI coach generates recommendations that are reviewed by a human coach before being sent as SMS messages.

The objective is not to substitute humans with AI but to enhance their productivity and enable them to focus on more personalized coaching, as stated by Allen. The team of human coaches remains integral to the long-term vision of the practice.

According to Sunnyside CEO and co-founder Nick Allen, formerly of Lyft for Business, the AI system, powered by ChatGPT, is informed by the company’s data on drinking patterns, behavior changes, and drinking routines.

Sunnyside recruits mentors who are dedicated to the program and have shown consistent success. These mentors, around 20 in number, have undergone a specialized training certification program in collaboration with a qualified counselor. Allen likened this approach to the sponsor/sponsee dynamic, emphasizing the importance of compassionate individuals who have navigated similar journeys.

While Sunnyside’s coaches receive specialized training, they are not authorized to provide medical advice. Allen clarified, “These individuals are peers, not licensed therapists. We are transparent about this distinction.” The coaches are positioned as supportive companions rather than professional counselors.

(Note: Abruptly stopping alcohol consumption can be risky for individuals with dependency. Symptoms like hand tremors, sweating, anxiety, and spasms may occur. Seeking medical assistance is crucial if experiencing these symptoms.)

Credits for the image: Sunnyside

Founded by Allen and Ian Andersen (CGO), Sunnyside was established as an alternative to sobriety-centric programs, sparking conversations among alcohol consumers about the repercussions of excessive drinking.

The funding aims to “accelerate the mindful drinking movement and make an impact in the mainstream health discourse.” The objective is to establish Sunnyside as a household name for individuals seeking to shift their perspectives on alcohol consumption. Allen highlighted the company’s differentiation from competitors in the health and wellness space, emphasizing a unique approach distinct from traditional sobriety-focused solutions.

Allen shared personal experiences related to alcoholism, shaped by his upbringing in a household with recovering alcoholics. Andersen, on the other hand, lost his mother to alcohol-induced heart failure and has a family history of alcoholism.

Since its inception in 2020, Sunnyside claims to have aided over 200,000 individuals in abstaining from 13.5 million drinks. These achievements are particularly notable considering the surge in alcohol consumption during the pandemic. Sunnyside members have reportedly reduced their alcohol intake by an average of 32%, eliminated 1,500 calories, and saved over $50 within the first month of joining the platform.

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Last modified: February 25, 2024
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