Sunnyside Secures $11.5M To Help People Build Healthier Drinking Habits

About two-thirds of adults in the U.S. drink alcohol, but about one in three are […]

About two-thirds of adults in the U.S. drink alcohol, but about one in three are trying to drink less. Sunnyside, which announced it raised $11.5 million in Series A funding last week, aims to help people cut back on their drinking without having to quit altogether.

The San Francisco-based startup offers an app for consumers. At $99 a year, users of Sunnyside have access to drink tracking, daily reminders of their goals, personalized recommendations, community support with other users of the app and one-on-one peer support.

“This approach provides a much-needed alternative for those looking to change their relationship with alcohol, but who aren’t open to quitting drinking entirely,” said Nick Allen, CEO and co-founder of Sunnyside, in an email.

The Series A funding round was led by Motley Fool Ventures and included participation from Will Ventures, Uncork Capital, Offline Ventures, Joyance Partners, Wisdom Ventures, Eudemian Ventures, Adjacent, Scribble Ventures, Cooley LLP and MyFitnessPal founder Michael Lee. Sunnyside has raised $14.6 million since inception.

A Motley Fool Ventures investor chose to invest in Sunnyside because of its focus on helping people drink in moderation and create healthier habits.

“Sunnyside has a unique opportunity into a massive new vertical in the wellness industry,” said Kristine Harjes, vice president of the firm, in a statement. “By creating a non-judgmental approach where balance is the goal, the Sunnyside team expands the addressable audience to anyone looking to improve their health by taking more control over their drinking habits.”

With the funding in hand, Sunnyside aims to focus on three key areas: product, brand and community, Allen said. The company recently hired Steve Lloyd, former chief product and technology officer at fitness company Strava. Lloyd will be taking on the same role at Sunnyside and will lead the product and engineering team in creating a new feature that will offer challenges for consumers, as well as an AI drinking coach named “Sunny” that will provide personalized coaching for members.

The money will also be used to boost marketing efforts. Lastly, the startup will invest more heavily in community building, Allen said. For example, its app offers daily journaling prompts that allow members to reflect on their experience, and users can interact with one another around these prompts.

“Key to removing stigma around proactive alcohol management is to make this a journey of connection, rather than loneliness,” he said.

The company was born out of Allen and co-founder Ian Andersen’s experiences. Allen grew up in a home with two parents recovering from alcoholism, and Andersen lost his mother at the age of 11 because of liver failure from alcohol abuse.

Allen previously told MedCity News that a few years ago, he decided to make a change to his drinking habits, but didn’t want to go the full abstinence route like his parents did. However, he struggled to find solutions that would help him moderate his drinking. That led to the founding of Sunnyside.

Other companies in the space include SoberBuddy and I Am Sober, but these mostly focus on sobriety rather than cutting back on alcohol.

“It’s clear that the decision to quit entirely is the right choice for some drinkers, but there are many millions more who are turned off by the all-or-nothing approach,” Allen said this week. “Sunnyside fills the gap for this population, expanding the addressable market for those who could benefit from healthier habits around alcohol.”

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