Why we led Othership’s $8M Series A

We started Vine Ventures with the premise that mental health is the largest problem facing humankind. We contend that novel business models will be necessary to unlock value and solve this protracted crisis. We outlined what we look for here. As Vine has evolved, we’ve leaned into the science and led investments in some of the most important organizations bringing psychedelic therapies to the world. However, through our research other novel models for raising human well-being have proven interesting, and we remain open-minded to how the future may unfold.

Othership, a next-generation hot-cold experience that combines breathwork with sauna and cold therapies, emphatically checks the box on every one of the criteria that we look for as venture investors in the current environment.

Check out the below video to get a sense for the Othership studio experience:

Passionate, Cult-Like Community

Much more than a company, Othership is a wonderfully passionate community religiously dedicated to novel modalities of health and wellness. Members seek new ways to connect with like-minded people to grow or pursue healthier options for entertainment. We’ve been especially impressed by Othership’s ability to bridge an online community through their app with a real-world community in the physical spaces. By giving members the ability to continue their Othership experience even when they can’t make it into a local space, there is a deepening of the commitment and dramatically higher retention than what we typically see from health apps or physical centers independently.

There are so many examples of the uniqueness of the Othership community. Recently, they hosted a candlelit group breathwork in Toronto with 850 attendees and then the following week an outdoor cold plunge with over 1,800, both records to our knowledge. If you interview the members of the Othership community, you quickly realize that this isn’t just a friend group or a fitness center. There is a sense of deeply held values and culture. Whenever I go into Othership, I’m always blown away by the number of Othership tattoos floating around the facility (an anecdotal signal that I remember from the early days of Bitcoin). We’ve never seen customer reviews like this for any business (+350 all 5 star).

I reiterate a statement I made at the time of the seed investment — Othership will be bigger than Crossfit and Soul Cycle combined! The health benefits are more durable, it has a wider addressable market, and the community is unmatched in its passion. We’ve also seen hot-cold therapies capture the modern Zeitgeist as the health and longevity benefits are widely documented.

Traction and Growth Opportunities

The initial facility in Toronto has completely blown away even our most optimistic expectations for number of users per week, EBITDA, and overall performance. We know the model works, we know Othership has product-market fit, and we know other cities around North America will passionately embrace this offering. Now is the time to scale. We expect over the next 3–5 years to see more than 20 Othership locations around North America, each one sustainable and providing additional synergies to the online experience. In this volatile environment, being able to grow from a cash flow-positive position is an incredible luxury that gives Othership a compelling advantage. There will be some really exciting announcements of new locations on a thoughtfully laid-out roadmap coming soon.

The Best Team!

I can think of few teams that I have evaluated during a decade in venture capital that are so well positioned and so capable of executing on their vision. Led by the enigmatic Robbie Bent, Othership has carefully curated a talented team that has all of the execution skills to scale their extraordinary community. The Othership team isn’t just building a product that they think may work, they are living and executing on their Ikigai, their reason for being, every single day. I am constantly inspired by the energy and the commitment they have to change people’s relationship with their own mental health and thereby heal the world.

The Bigger Secret They’ve Stumbled Upon

“I’ve replaced $800 in therapy per month with Othership”

At first glance, Othership is a Schelling point built around community, sauna, ice baths, breathwork, and a digital component. However, when you look deeper, it’s actually solving two problems that are holding back the mental health and psychedelic renaissance.

  1. “Prep” — there is still a stigma around mental health practices. Finding a therapist is hard and expensive, and for the most part psychedelic medicines are still illegal. These practices haven’t permeated the mainstream fast enough and are not an easily accessible first step for the average North American. They are utilized when an enormous problem exists and there are no other options, but the reality is nearly everybody with a cell phone is struggling with mental health matters of one kind or another in a rapidly changing society.
  2. “Integration” — making behavior changes alone is extremely difficult. We’ve seen many people go through transformative experiences like meditation and psychedelic retreats and then fail to sustain positive behavioral changes upon returning home. They lack community, accountability, and regular check-ins.

Othership is the first comprehensive solution that solves both these issues and as a result is a platform for sustainable behavioral change, which was somewhat unexpected when we led the seed investment.

  • Accessible: Onboarding is simple - it’s easy to attend an initial class. The space is fun, inspiring, and allows you to work on emotional health without any stigma. The space helps you graduate from social experiences to deeper classes and is accessible to anyone. It delivers the “prep” and makes it clear that mental health is important to think about and work on regularly, as one does for their physical health.
  • Affordable: The classes are done in community at an accessible price point so it allows you to find others with similar interests and replace unhealthy social time with healthy community time. This is key — it’s not a clinic, but provides a supplement to more expensive therapy in a way that is inspiring and uplifting.
  • Sustainable: Othership is a place and app you can blend into your daily lifestyle after a “peak experience” retreat, making it easier to make sustained behavioral change and actually integrate positive habits.

This is truly the first company that offers wellness as entertainment as well as innovative and accessible modes of community therapy.

The Othership is Taking Off

In our conversations with Robbie, we see a world where your journey as a person struggling with anxiety and depression, burnout, and overwhelm to a person living a more meaningful life happens at Othership, driven through community support. The grand vision of Othership is to be the “house of transformation” with millions of users that can, for the first time, improve their mental health at an accessible price outside of the traditional medical system in the following flow:

  • 100’s of bathhouses across North America — for mental-health classes that are accessible along with healthy night time socials.
  • An app for daily use to learn to shift your nervous system state on command. With both leading therapeutic and somatic content as well as groups for weekly sharing and connection.
  • Group programming so you can work through change together in your home town encompassing virtual and in-person retreats with the same people to maximize sustained change.
  • A 1x per year Pilgrimage for all power users: akin to a Tony Robbins leadership retreat meets a music festival, allowing the most passionate community members a chance to meet and connect through playful peak experiences.

As Othership enables their full offering, we see a platform capitalizing on the best of community experience that religion has to offer but instrincially based upon feeling better and experiencing your own emotions. If you’re based in or traveling through Toronto, we highly encourage you to see for yourself the magic that the team is creating in its physical spaces. Stay tuned for the launch of the first US physical space in NYC later this year.