With Neuphony build and break habits for a Neu you
If you type in the word ‘mental health’ into Google’s search bar, it will pull up over 160 million hits. Mental health is something people have only recently started talking about, like gluten-free bread or chia seed pudding, but it is just as important as physical health. It is easier to treat symptoms that can be seen and diagnosed instantly than to diagnose and treat an internal ailment.
Your brain is truly the most amazing part of your body. It comes up with creative ways to express your thoughts and emotions, coordinates movements from chopping vegetables to running an obstacle course, stores your most precious childhood memories, and solves the Sunday crossword. But it’s easy to take those powers for granted.
When your brain is healthy, it has the blood flow required for peak performance. A healthy brain is essential for living a long and full life. You’re able to pay better attention, solve problems, communicate, and much more with a healthy brain. So cherish it. Protect it. Take care of it.
Neuphony changes the reactive approach to mental health and starts building resilience by being more proactive. This startup can help you in improving your quality of sleep, focusing, reducing anxiety and stress and achieving internal peace.
“We figured out that people across the world actually don’t understand what mental health is. If you’re having a random outburst, if you’re crying or you’re angry at someone else and are shouting at someone else, that’s your mental health issue and we should take it seriously,” said Ria Rustagi.
How did they start?
Neuphony comes from a very personal inspiration for them, and the company is dedicated to Ria’s sister, Pankhuri Rustagi.
Ria is originally from Delhi but has been living in Germany for the past 4 years. She has done her B.Tech from JAYPEE Noida and her masters from NTU University, Singapore. Bhavya (Ria’s fiancé and co-founder) loves working on gadgets and Technology. Both Ria and Bhavya are engineers not only by degree but also by passion. Entrepreneur stories always inspired this duo and always wanted to become one of them. They were very passionate about doing something on their own and carving their own slices of the success pie.
They came up with this idea in 2016 when Ria’s sister Pankhuri got a rare brain infection and was in Stroke ICU at the age of 25 for 6 months. Those 6 months were not only emotionally but also physically and mentally challenging for the entire family. During that time, the family saw a lot of trials, but during that phase, not knowing what was happening inside her brain, why she could not talk to the family or move was something Ria couldn’t digest and understand. It was very difficult to see her in so much pain and not knowing what she was thinking. And that was when they understood what Brain is?
In November 2016 after being continuously fighting for 6 months she passed away and that led Ria and the entire family in the state of trauma. It was a hard time for them, but as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter said, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Ria remembered to turn on the light and started working on this. Her sister passed in 2016, but they didn’t stop studying about the brain or about the issue. They found out it’s a rare disease which is multidrug resistance brain infection and because of that nothing was really working. From, 2016 to 2018 they just read about the brain to understand what went wrong and were looking for ways to create something for it because the brain is something which is very chaotic and people know little about it. They started working on solving this mystery.
They started researching in 2018 and within 4-5 months they figured out that creating a device for people who are bedridden to help the family understand what they want to say like are they agreeing or disagreeing or are they stressed or depressed would be something out of the box.
“There’s a technology called EEG you can get it in the hospitals, but the EEG scan requires a lot of electrodes over your head. Many small flat metal discs called electrodes are attached to the scalp with wires. Therefore, all this is very messy. What we did was we took the neuroscience part from people in Europe. As if you have a smartwatch for blood pressure and heart-rate variability similarly, we did something for the brain. So, this is available in every hospital but because of too many wires in it people feel like they have some mental illness or something so we removed all the wires and took the dry part of it,” told Ria to Startup Times.
About the product
Neuphony brings you the benefits of neurofeedback at the comfort of your home with the help of our headband and a mobile application. The headband measures the electrical activity of your brain, and the mobile app based on the sensor data recommends your meditation techniques to achieve your desired state. Over sessions, it trains your brain on how to achieve the desired state itself.
People generally say that your base personality cannot be changed which is completely a myth. There is a term called neuroplasticity that means one can train the brain. Which in normal words means you can train your brain to behave in a certain manner in a particular situation or to break and build habits. This technology is called Neurofeedback. In India, there is only one centre in Bombay where one can go for this, but it is very expensive, like Rs. 20,000-25,000 for 1 hour and the minimum you have to take is 12 sessions. In Europe, this cost like 200 Euros for 1 session.
What they did with their product was that they made it look like headphones that can be easily worn by one and one can connect via Bluetooth to their mobile application. Once you can connect the device, it detects your brain state. After that, you can choose what you want and if you can’t decide what you want to choose, the app will recommend you things based on your brain state. Based on the time of the day, your brain state and what you choose, the device will recommend certain techniques for your brain.
Whenever there will be a contradiction between the things you want and brain activity, the software will automatically reduce the volume to give you feedback that you’re going out of track and need to relax. So, you will get real-time auditory feedback whenever you’re going on the wrong path.
While Neuphony is the product, name of the company is PankhTech named after Ria’s sister Pankhuri. They are a startup across India and Europe.
The wearable market for the brain has just developed for the last 10 years with dominance in the U.S. and Europe recently catching up in the past 2 years. They are the first Indians to work on this, and the first device to be developed keeping in mind the Indian market. The manufacturing is completely done in Delhi, India.
Challenges were the big part of this journey
Ria and Bhavya lived in Germany and Germans take 2-3 years minimum just for the product to come into the market; they arrange everything from investments to funding but will not enter the market as a brand until 2-3 years. On the other hand, they wanted to launch their product as soon as they could. Ria and Bhavya were stuck in the mindset that they didn’t want it to last very long but also didn’t want to bring out something bad because the European market would have never accepted it.
Building a team was one of the biggest challenges they had. They wanted to get some people on board as co-founders because they both are Engineers, but Germans have a very nice life they do not want to take the extra burden; they travel and see the world instead of always being occupied with work. That left them to not find any local citizen there, and they started looking for Indians in Germany. Building a powerful team was very difficult because no one was as passionate as they were. As a solution, what they did was because they were from India, they were comfortable here so they hired companies in India to work for them. All the patents, designs and Ips are with their company. Their software, hardware, the marketing team are here, it’s a made in India product. They thought to bring the best of both worlds and did it by designing in Germany and manufacturing in India.
“The other thing which I often tell is Europeans give us the benefit because we are Indians, but Indians don’t like that about us. When I talk to an Indian person as a customer, I tell them I’m from Germany, but when I talk to Germans, I go in Indian outfits and they mostly say that Indians know a lot about meditation. I have met Indian customers saying that your product is made in India it must not be good, so that’s why on our website we have not written made in India because of the Indian market.”
On asking for some word of advice for the reader’s Ria said that she would really like to say one thing that as long as you are sure that your startup is creative and you believe in it let nothing matter be it money, degree, experts or anything in the world. Just believe in yourself because you’re the one who’s going to run it in the race.