Manual, a ‘wellbeing platform’ for men, has closed £5 million in seed funding. Backing the round is the U.K.’s Felix Capital, Germany’s Cherry Ventures, and U.S.-based Cassius Capital.
The first iteration of the startup’s offering is being launched today: a new website that aims to arm men with the knowledge and tools they need “to proactively solve their wellbeing and look after their health”.
“At Manual we want men to take control of their health and happiness by helping guide them to the choices that work best for them. We believe this starts with promoting a change in how men approach their wellbeing,” Manual CEO George Pallis, who co-founded the company along with Michalis Gkontas, tells me.
“Michalis and I both have first hand experience of the physical and mental toll that can happen when you’re not looking out for yourself, and at Manual we want to encourage men to talk openly, challenging the outdated notions of masculinity where ‘being a man’ meant sweeping problems under the carpet”.
Pallis says Manual’s vision is to improve the everyday lives of men by providing knowledge and solutions for key parts of their wellbeing, citing a report by the National Pharmacy Association that suggests almost 90 percent of men don’t seek help unless they have a serious problem.
“The goal is to change habits in the way men understand and fix their problems,” he says. “Manual will provide users with products, services and in-depth information so they can implement a holistic approach to their wellness”.
At launch, Manual is focussing on solutions to what Pallis says are two of the most common men’s health problems: erectile dysfunction (ED) and hair loss. The plan is to then build up other wellbeing offering from there, “from sex to skin, and hair to general wellbeing”.
It is also worth noting Pallis and Gkontas’ startup and entrepreneur backgrounds. Pallis was most recently an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) at Felix Capital. Before that he ran marketing at Deliveroo, as Director of Marketing, and before that he was an early employee at TransferWise. Gkontas built and exited healthy food startup Forky to Vivartia in 2018. The pair say that the stresses associated with startup life also informed their decision to build a platform targeting men’s wellbeing.
Meanwhile, Manual says its seed funding will be invested into the development and growth of the platform. In addition, the new capital will be used to scale the team, split between its HQ in London and a technical team in Athens, and for further European expansion.