Published on November 16, 2023, 5:00 pm

The trend of being “sober curious” and practicing “mindful drinking” has gained traction in recent years, with almost half of the adult population in the US expressing a desire to reduce their alcohol consumption. Capitalizing on this growing movement, Sunnyside, an app aimed at promoting healthy drinking habits, has raised $11.5 million in Series A funding. The funding round was led by Motley Fool Ventures and saw participation from other investors like Will Ventures.

The funds raised will enable Sunnyside to introduce its new AI-driven mindful drinking coach named “Sunny.” This coach generates recommended responses for Sunnyside’s team of human coaches, further enhancing their services. Notable participants in the funding round include Uncork Capital, Offline Ventures, Joyance Partners, Wisdom Ventures, Eudemian Ventures, Adjacent, Scribble Ventures, Cooley LLP, and Michael Lee, the founder of MyFitnessPal. With this latest investment, Sunnyside’s total funding stands at $14.6 million.

In addition to securing funding, Sunnyside also announced the appointment of Steve Lloyd as their chief product and technology officer. Prior to joining Sunnyside, Lloyd held the same position at fitness app Strava. Reflecting on his personal experience with using Sunnyside to control his own drinking habits, Lloyd expressed enthusiasm about bringing his expertise in technology and wellness to help create a supportive community focused on mindful drinking journeys.

Sunnyside offers its app for an annual subscription fee of $99. The app features daily drink tracking capabilities, SMS reminders to keep users aligned with their goals, personalized one-on-one coaching programs, and a community chat section where members can share their triumphs and struggles with others on similar paths. Similar apps like Reframe charge $8.33 per month or $100 annually.

One highlight of Sunnyside’s app is its analytics dashboard, which calculates the money and calories saved by reducing alcohol consumption. The app also offers challenges to encourage accountability, such as a 30-day alcohol reset or competitions with friends to see who can drink 50% less than usual. For those seeking a more premium experience, Sunnyside provides an annual premium subscription priced at $298. This premium subscription includes weekly Zoom check-ins with coaches and faster response times. Interested users can avail themselves of a free 15-day trial to discover the benefits of reducing their alcohol consumption.

Sunnyside’s new AI mindful drinking coach “Sunny” aims to support human coaches by providing tips and recommendations for members through SMS interactions. These responses are generated based on Sunnyside’s dataset, which comprises information about members’ drinking patterns, behavior changes, and habits surrounding alcohol consumption. Although Sunny generates these responses autonomously, they are reviewed by human coaches before being sent out.

According to Sunnyside CEO and co-founder Nick Allen, the goal is not to replace human coaches with AI but rather to make them more effective and free up their time for deeper individualized coaching sessions. Sunnyside recruits coaches who have succeeded in the program themselves and have undergone an independently developed coaching certification program in collaboration with a licensed counselor.

It is important to note that while Sunnyside’s coaches receive professional training, they are not authorized to provide medical advice. Allen emphasized that these coaches serve as friendly supporters rather than licensed counselors or therapists.

Founded by Nick Allen and Ian Andersen, Sunnyside offers an alternative approach to traditional sobriety-focused programs. It aims to address the negative consequences of unmanaged drinking through fostering discussions among alcohol consumers about adopting healthier habits. Both founders have personal experiences related to alcoholism, with Allen growing up in a household where both parents were recovering alcoholics and Andersen having lost his mother due to liver failure caused by alcoholism.

Since its launch in 2020, Sunnyside claims to have helped over 200,000 individuals eliminate 13.5 million drinks. These figures are remarkable given the increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic. According to Sunnyside, their members have reduced their drinking by an average of 32%, saved over 1,500 calories, and cut costs by more than $50 in their first month of using the app.

The Sunnyside app is available for download on the Apple Store, catering to individuals seeking support and guidance on their mindful drinking journeys.

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