Mindful Drinking: The Next Frontier in Health and Wellness
If you found yourself drinking more in the past year, you’re not alone. Three out of four Americans drank more in 2020 than the prior year. Even before the pandemic, alcohol was deeply woven into our culture — we reach for it when we socialize, network, celebrate, blow off steam, unwind, and cope. We also know our drinking has consequences. You don’t have to be an alcoholic or even a heavy drinker to feel the negative effects of drinking (the health impact, extra calories, lost productivity, poor sleep quality, and dollars spent to name a few).
Nearly half of US adults say they want to reduce their consumption, but today the overwhelming amount of mindshare is dedicated to all-or-nothing approaches. While abstinence programs are appropriate for those with Alcohol Use Disorders (what we colloquially call alcoholism), these leave an overwhelming number of Americans without support to positively change their relationship with alcohol when they aren’t addicted and don’t want to give up drinking entirely.
Establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol doesn’t have to mean sobriety for most adults who drink. There is a massive, untapped opportunity to help millions of Americans build healthier, sustainable habits around their alcohol consumption.
Tracking drinks should be as common (and socially accepted) as tracking calories and steps as a part of our proactive wellness routines. And just like we don’t wait until we get extremely out of shape to start managing our diet and exercise, we shouldn’t wait until our relationship with alcohol gets way out of balance before we start managing the role it plays in our health and lives.
Enter Nick Allen: technologist, retention expert, and problem solver. Alcohol’s impact on Nick’s family shaped his relationship with drinking from an early age. Years later, while on sabbatical in Mexico City in early 2020, he realized he was drinking more than he intended and turned to technology to help himself be more mindful and create better habits, just as he had with diet, exercise, and language learning in the past. What he found were purpose-built solutions for sobriety, but nothing to help him proactively manage the role alcohol played in his life. So Nick decided to build a tool for himself to plan, track and systematically reduce his consumption to a healthy place, and Cutback Coach was born.
Cutback Coach’s simple text-based tracking system leverages proven behavioral psychology strategies to help members mindfully change their drinking habits, without being overly restrictive or guilt-driven.
Now, I’m not one to turn down a glass of nice wine in “normal times”. After having personally abstained for roughly nine months in 2019 and early 2020, wine was a welcome escape from the realities of becoming a new parent in the midst of a pandemic. With Cutback Coach, I found it easier to say no to ‘just one’ after a long Tuesday that I planned as a dry day. I’ve become more conscious of whether or not I really want that extra glass on a Friday night, especially when I’ve opted for unplanned drinks earlier in the week. While I still absolutely enjoy my wine, Cutback Coach has helped me grow more mindful of my consumption.
I’m not alone. While Nick’s 2020 sabbatical in Mexico was short-lived, Cutback Coach’s easy-to-use program and approachable brand have helped thousands of members achieve health and wellness benefits including increased productivity, weight loss, reduced anxiety, and better sleep.
Today, I’m excited to welcome Nick, his co-founder Ian Andersen, and their small but growing team at Cutback Coach to the Uncork family. Cutback Coach is ready to fill the gap in the market for the millions of adults who regularly drink and want to improve their overall health and wellness through small changes to their drinking habits. And Nick and Ian share the empathy, lived experience, and startup expertise to bring this massive wellness category to life. The timing couldn’t be better. Just as meditation apps have built multi-billion dollar businesses by creating a new consumer category around proactive mental health, Cutback Coach is poised to do the same with their proactive alcohol health platform.
P.S. Thank you to Ann Ferracane of Patch Ventures who connected Nick and me last fall. The two were former colleagues at Lyft, and I’m excited she’s one of many fantastic investors and angels involved in Cutback’s Coach’s seed round along with Nico Wittenborn of Adjacent Venture Capital; James Park, Founder of Fitbit; Mike Lee, Founder of MyFitnessPal; Logan Green, Founder and CEO of Lyft; Dan Bozme, Founder of MileIQ; Kira Wampler, Venture Chair of Redesign Health; Benny Joseph and Brett Jackson of V1.vc; Nir Eyal, author of Hooked and Indistractable; and angel investor Kevin Carter, among others.