Sunnyside Helps Users Proactively Balance Alcohol Use and Wellness

Via text-based coaching and other offerings, Sunnyside helps users improve their overall health without sacrificing hard drinks.

Written by Ashley Bowden
Published on Mar. 09, 2023
Sunnyside Helps Users Proactively Balance Alcohol Use and Wellness
Sunnyside co-founders Ian Andersen and Nick Allen pose together for a photo.
Sunnyside was co-founded by CGO Ian Andersen (left) and CEO Nick Allen (right). | Photo: Sunnyside

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming tech companies, Built In launched The Future 5 across seven major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five early-stage tech companies, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of San Francisco’s rising startups from last quarter here.

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Whether it’s joining colleagues for happy hour or toasting at a friend’s birthday party, enjoying alcoholic drinks is a cultural norm for many across the U.S. However, when indulgence in hard drinks becomes more habitual than what the CDC deems healthy, many individuals can have a tough time reducing their beverage intake. 

For those looking to adjust their drinking routine, Sunnyside developed a platform that helps them rebuild balanced habits without sacrificing drinking or their health and wellness.

Numerous tech-enabled solutions exist to help individuals achieve complete sobriety after developing an addiction that leads to alcoholism. For those who drink to the point where their overall wellness is affected yet hasn’t reached a debilitative state, there are a limited number of options available to help them cut back on alcohol without giving it up entirely.

In this situation, Sunnyside hopes to step in and help its members regain a healthy balance. Sunnyside’s mobile platform helps people build awareness of their consumption, make small changes to their habits and maintain those habits in the long run. These changes ultimately amount to users getting better sleep, waking up with more energy, reducing stress and anxiety and accelerating fitness goals, Sunnyside CEO Nick Allen said.

“Ultimately, [members are] making a major investment in their longevity and long-term health,” Allen told Built In. “We really believe that changing alcohol consumption can be a keystone habit for really improving your life.”

Allen co-founded Sunnyside back in 2020 alongside Ian Andersen, the company’s chief growth officer. The web platform has since helped consumers achieve a 32 percent reduction in weekly drinks within the first 12 weeks of using Sunnyside, Allen said.

“At the broad level, we’ve helped more than 140,000 people cut 7,500,000 drinks from their lives over the course of the last couple of years of operating. So we’ve already had a really major impact in terms of helping people understand where they are and then actually reduce their baseline consumption in a meaningful way,” he said.

The company’s platform offers a suite of tools that helps users practice mindful drinking. Members start by setting their daily drink targets for the upcoming week. Over the next seven days, the platform sends out daily text reminders to reinforce accountability for that plan. Sunnyside then gathers data and provides users with insights into how these changes impact other areas of their lives, including money saved or empty calories avoided. 

We really believe that changing alcohol consumption can be a keystone habit for really improving your life.”

Additionally, Sunnyside members can access coaching services where a human coach can offer them advice, support or encouragement via text message. The company also offers an online community where members can share daily reflections with one another.

Though the platform works to serve a very specific group of people, Sunnyside targets millions of individuals across the country. About 26 percent of U.S. adults reported heavy drinking habits in 2019, as cited by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The same report mentioned that only about 7 percent of people with alcohol use disorder, or AUD, actively sought treatment options. 

Sunnyside believes more people will seek treatment for excessive drinking before it gets to the point of AUD if there is a wider range of options at their disposal. The company wants to address this disparity by providing a solution that isn’t an all-or-nothing approach to drinking.

“We believe that your tracking drinks should be as common and socially accepted as tracking calories and steps as a component of our proactive wellness routines, rather than something that we hide in the corner [to do] or have a bunch of shame about when we actually start working [on] it,” Allen said.

Sunnyside originates from Allen’s personal experience. He said he grew up watching his parents recover from alcoholism. While they have been sober for the majority of Allen’s life, the experience instilled in him an astute awareness of the risks of drinking. That caution held strong when he began his own exploration of alcohol.

“I certainly haven’t always been perfect on my journey with alcohol,” Allen said. “I’ve certainly had times when it’s been really out of balance in my life, but I really tried over the years to keep my relationship with alcohol front-of-mind in order to avoid the negative impacts that my parents experienced.”

Sunnyside aims to help as many people as possible avoid similar impacts on their lives. The company recently launched a premium subscription option where members can receive more proactive check-ins from their coach and attend weekly Zoom meetings with them. 

Down the line, Sunnyside plans to expand its offering across the treatment spectrum for AUD. Whereas it currently focuses on AUD prevention and proactive treatment, the San Francisco-based company wants to encompass higher acuity care solutions for those with problematic dependence, Allen said. 

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