Today, on Shine's 1 year anniversary, we are proud to share that over half a million users are waking up with Shine and we just raised $2.5M to make daily wellbeing accessible for even more people.

Our seed round was led by Betaworks and Eniac Ventures, along with Female Founders Fund, Felix Capital, Comcast Ventures, BBG Ventures, The New York Times, and Ed Zimmerman.

“Self-help” has been broken for a long time.

The term itself still evokes that section of the bookstore that we all snuck over to in the 90s to snag the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul or Oprah’s latest book club recommendation.

But it’s 2017.

When it comes to how we take care of ourselves, our generation is after solutions that keep up with us in our tech-driven world, as often as we think about how we’re feeling. Though we love Oprah (who doesn’t?) -- gurus and the top-down approach of most wellness media (i.e., just buy these crystals and drink this herbal remedy to zen out) don’t resonate as much as things that feel accessible and peer-based.

As former co-workers who supported each other on everything from career growth to personal relationships to finance to passions projects -- we felt this first-hand. In each other, we found an accessible, peer-based approach to our daily wellbeing.

Shocked that nothing like this existed at scale, we asked our friends where they turned when they needed reinforcements. From celebrating a high, like a new promotion, to processing a low like a breakup, we wanted to know where our friends went for daily support and tactical advice on how to work on themselves with self-compassion. The two things we most often heard was “I google it” (i.e., media) or “I pay for it” (i.e., career or life coaching - which comes in at a cool $250 an hour minimum).

shine-1year-infographic testimonials

At the time, as CMO and Director of Mobile Product at our former organization, we also happened to become experts in scaling a technology that just made sense as the platform to solve this problem - texting, and led the growth of that same organization to 5 million users - 3 million of them on SMS.

Unlike email or social media, we only text with the VIPs in our lives - and with its crazy-high open rate, it's the most personal platform to build a one-on-one relationship with another human being.

When we had the ‘aha’ moment to combine our expertise in messaging and in the peer-based support we gave one another - Shine was a no-brainer. We were going to build a friend in your pocket.

A year later, we’re seeing the results of a product that users had been asking for and the power of a product that is achieving mass intimacy.

Our 500,000+ Shine users span 165 countries and are using our product across SMS, Facebook Messenger, Kik and the mobile web. While our average user is a millennial woman, the 10th most common name in our member base is Mohammad. Nineteen percent of our users identify as African American. In our first year, we've worked with celebrities like Kristen Bell, Lilly Singh and JoJo and rumor has it even Hillary Clinton is a Shine user.

We set out to make wellbeing more accessible using the power of the conversational interface and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

While the early stages of a company are never easy, it’s thanks to our incredible team, our one-of-a-kind advisors and our authentic, supportive investors and most importantly - our users - that our first year was such a hit.

Up next for us? More growth and building on new conversational platforms to reach more people with Shine. Cheers to big things ahead!

- Marah Lidey & Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founders of Shine