The Story Behind Bravrr's BruxRelief
An incredible journey...
When I was growing up, my favorite comic book was Spider-Man, but my real superhero was my dad. Just like Spider-Man, my dad wasn't perfect, but he was strong and he was brave.
After turning 35, my life went through a huge transition and something came to me, within me, that called upon me to change things up in my life. To go after my dreams and not let fear hold me back.
It's funny how life works sometimes, but everything happens for a reason. In 2016 I moved to Bali, Indonesia to challenge myself, live aboard for at least one year and be brave...
Within one month after moving to Bali, life forced me to fulfill that decision to be brave. Within a month after moving to Bali, I got in a motorcycle accident, broke bones in my face, stitches and had a severe concussion. A month after that I caught dengue fever, which if you've ever had it, it feels like every bit of death. Then a month after that, I injured my lower back and spent two months in bed on pain-killers and eventually had to get back surgery in Thailand where I spent two months recovering.
That point was my lowest, I wanted to go back home so bad, I wanted to be with family. I was scared for the first time in my life and it felt like I had this dark cloud over me.
When I moved back to Bali after recovering from back surgery, my anxiety and feelings got worse. I was afraid to go to sleep, I was afraid to wake up, I was afraid each day was going to be my last and I worried about the next accident that might happen. It was at this point, when my anxiety was really bad that I started clenching my teeth constantly during the day, it felt like I was constantly preparing for a fight. I started waking up with a sore jaw from grinding my teeth at night.
I needed someone, I wanted my dad, my family, I wanted something to stop me, tell me to take a breath, calm down, be brave.
In college I studied psychology, engineering and programming. One morning waking up in fear and pain I remember a lesson about biofeedback therapy. Biofeedback is like a superpower, it's like Spider-Man's 'spidersense' it makes your subconscious more aware so that you can sense an unwanted behavior and change it.
I looked for an engineer in Bali to help me build it but ultimately I got frustrated and decided to build it myself. So I did some research, found the parts I needed and I flew to Singapore where I went to a robotics shop and started building my biofeedback device on my bathroom floor. Back then the device wasn't much and required a lot of calibration but I started testing it right away and within about 3 weeks my bruxism went away. The pain and stress from clenching went away as I had the device remind me to stop, breath and relax my jaw muscles. At night the device helped me to stop grinding my teeth as well, sending messages to my subconscious that would stop me from grinding and allow me to get a deep restful sleep.
It was after relieving my own stress and bruxism that I realized I had something and I decided launch my startup BruxRelief to help the millions and millions of people who suffer from stress and bruxism disorder.
I applied to many investors and accelerator programs around the world but didn't get accepted. Clearly I needed to better understand the startup / investment process and gain the knowledge necessary to turn BruxRelief into a real business so I could help as many people as possible.
Finally I was lucky enough to be accepted into a pre-accelerator program all the way in Chisinau Moldova. I took the opportunity and I traveled to Moldova to participate in the Rockstart Launchtrack program to step through validating this as a business opportunity. There I worked with engineers, a dentist, programmers, and a 3D printing lab where I learned more about the skills required to bring BruxRelief to market.
At the end of the program, I stayed in Moldova, crafting my message and offer of the BruxRelief technology and launched a Kickstarter campaign to gain some initial funding for BruxRelief and validate on a small scale that this product was needed in the world. We had over 250 backers and ended the campaign over 170% funded.
After Launchtrack and after the Kickstarter, I still needed more help on the funding side and engineering side. I was accepted into a GAN (Global Accelerator Network) partner accelerator called ABQid Health & Wellness accelerator. The opportunity was at the end of the program we would receive $50K in investment (if we did well) and this would be enough to get BruxRelief off the ground.
While participating in this program I formed our parent company Bravrr, I linked up with an Air Force Research Lab and learned more about 3D printing while at the same time perfecting BruxRelief's novel sensor design. Unfortunately, at the end of the program there was an amazing but unfortunate setback. Instead of investing $50K the accelerator decided to invest $100K, that's the WOW part, the unfortunate part was that they also put in a requirement for me to raise another $150K and pushed me to raise it from a local angel syndicate. The biggest problem was that their combined offer would be giving away more that 25% of the company and much of the money was not needed to reach our projected goals at that stage.
So, I made the very hard decision to walk away from their offer. I looked at what needed to be done and quickly raised a little money from family necessary to get BruxRelief's patent application submitted, I found a great electronic engineer to join me and develop the electronics and bluetooth micro-controller for the BruxRelief device and recruited a great web / mobile developer I met while in Moldova to join our team. Additionally, I took all my training in 3D printing and CAD design and started rapidly prototyping and perfecting the design and plastics behind the BruxRelief device.
With our small team, and a LOT of grit, we pushed past all obstacles and crushed all the milestones the previous accelerator told me would need $250K to achieve. It was a big gamble, but I believed in myself and my team that we could do it. After 12 months, the BruxRelief device was finally a reality and we can now deliver this revolutionary device to the public.
It's been a wild ride getting BruxRelief to this point, an incredible adventure. But like I said in the beginning, everything in life happens for a reason and now with you and the Kickstarter community we'll finally be able to bring this wonderful solution to those suffering from stress and bruxism disorder.