We first met Cindy at the e@UBC Lean Launch Pad in May 2016 – an entrepreneur hungry to develop her technology, a tenacious founder with an unwavering mindset to bring her idea to life. Now one year out, Cindy has already showcased her technology at the #BCTECH Summit just last month, and her invention has appeared on multiple outlets, including Mashable, VentureBeat, engadget. With her Kickstarter campaign launched just a couple weeks ago, we got to speak with Cindy on what she has achieved to date.
1. First off, tell us about your journey from student to entrepreneur
VITALI started as a personal wellness project when I was studying Mechanical Engineering at UBC. During my time at UBC as an undergraduate student, I was one of those students that took seven courses a term and worked on student teams on the weekend. As a result I was suffering from stress related health issues.
What held me together during that time was my yoga practice. I noticed on the days that I practiced, I had better moods and better sleep, and overall more energy to deal with my day. It changed my life so much that I became a yoga instructor. However, I found that the moment I was outside the yoga environment and into my daily rush and hash, I lose the connection with my mind and body.
I wanted to create something that would bring the benefit of yoga off the mat. In particular, the physiological benefits from systematic breathing and postural alignment, key elements of not only the yoga practice, but also our everyday wellbeing. I realized I needed a tool to coach myself throughout the day, like a personal yoga instructor. So I brought some sensors to attach to my clothing to get feedback when I needed to take a deep breath.
I proceeded to take this idea to Startup Weekend 2015, and my team won! Since then, my team competed in multiple startup pitch competitions and successfully secured some prize money that has allowed us to keep developing our prototype. I was also part of the New Venture Design class of 2015/2016, which gave me the foundation to start my own venture. From there, we joined the e@UBC Lean Launch Pad in the Spring of 2016.
2. What does VITALI hope to bring to the world – what is the company’s DNA?
VITALI’s mission is to create products that empower wellness.
The idea came from yoga, but instead of focusing on the pose, we want to bring the benefit of yoga into the foundation of everyday healthy habits. We want to guide people to work with their body’s natural rhythm, not against, and to have the awareness to be mindful of the subtle changes as we receive stimulus throughout the day. By monitoring breathing, posture and heart rate variability (HRV), we understand the wearer’s patterns and triggers to offer personalized biofeedback when there is unbalance in the body. With the power of HRV recognition, we can accurately sense signs of stress, so the reminder is at the right time, every time. HRV training can also be used proactively, by syncing our breath to our heart’s natural rhythm. Over time, we hope to train our natural stress response to be more resilient using this clinically proven method.
3. What are the next steps in your startup journey? Share with us what your #1 priority is right now.
We are currently on Kickstarter and on our way to get funded! It would be amazing to see some support from our UBC community to bring VITALI to life. During the past eight months, we’ve been working closely with manufacturers and suppliers to finalize our design. Once we successfully complete our Kickstarter campaign, we will be working on DFM (Design for Manufacturing) and start creating our first batch to ship to our kickstarter backers. But this is only a beginning, we’d like to invite you to join our journey to bring wellness in every moment of your day.