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Leadership

Airtree and Antler-backed addiction app Lived shuts down as founder battles health concerns

- November 24, 2023 2 MIN READ
Sally Metelerkamp
Lived founder and CEO Sally Metelerkamp
Lived, an app designed to help people with addiction has closed down as its founder deals with her own health issues.

Founder Sally Metelerkamp announced the business had shut down on X (formerly Twitter) last week.

“With a mix of gratitude and reflection, I share that the company I led, Lived, has gracefully wound down,” she wrote.

“Health challenges led to this tough decision, but as I heal, so does my optimism.”

Metelerkamp added that “Lived wasn’t just a business; it embodied my passion for transforming addiction and healthcare”.

Her addiction app, cofounded with Benjamin Wirtz, began life as Aurelius (after the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher) as one of the first cohort companies from startup incubator and investor Antler in 2020. Wirtz parted ways with the idea early only, which she says “cost us critical time”.

The business went on to change its name three times, becoming Arli in 2021 as it launched with $2.5 million in VC funding from Airtree, writer Joan Westernberg, Who Gives a Crap founder Simon Griffiths and early backers Antler and Folklore Ventures. A year later, it became Lived. She had the name tattooed on her arm.

Lived went on to secure $4 million in investment and “proudly assisted tens of thousands of people, cementing our belief that Lived experience will be a game-changer in healthcare,” she said.

For Metelerkamp, a former Secure Code Warrior enterprise sales director, who was 26 when she began startup life, the project was personal. Her mother has dealt with addiction for more than 35 years and she was raised by her grandmother.

The premise was a clear one: one million Australians need support from drug and alcohol use, but only 20% get it. She wanted to create a new, online way to assist people dealing with addiction 85 years after Alcoholics Anonymous was founded.

The end of Lived began six months ago as she faced a series of health issues, including stress-related vertigo and a brush with cancer that required surgery.

Metelerkamp said they had no choice but to shut down and “watching it unravel alongside my deteriorating health was terrifying”.

She describes it as “a defining scar” – and jokes that tattoo removal “will be my last unexpected jolt of pain” .

“Now, although on the mend, I know with certainty I could not sustain what is required to make a start-up successful at a critical time,” she said.

“After exploring every option, including changes in leadership and strategic pivots, the decision to close Lived and return funds to investors was clear, especially to prioritise my health.”