Through his own personal experiences, Rohan Dixit was inspired to create Lief, a smart patch that fights stress. This week on Art of the Kickstart, we learned more about how Rohan and his team created and crowdfunded Lief.

Lief | Smart patch that fights stress

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • What types of research to consider when building a new product for a crowdfunding project
  • How long it takes to create a new product
  • What to consider when developing a new product
  • What to expect as part of the HAX Accelerator Program
  • How to Kickstart a health product

Links

Sponsors

FIN 2000X2000Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 25% off!

backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

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Roy Morejon:

This episode of Art of the Kickstart is sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes somewhere that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. Plus, if you want to create and send surveys, offer add-ons and pledge upgrades or begin accepting preorders, BackerKit makes it simple. Over 2,000 projects and 4 million backers have used BackerKit, including many of the projects featured on Art of the Kickstart. Ready to try BackerKit? Visit BackerKit.com and sign up today.

Roy Morejon:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president of Command Partners, the top full-service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raised over $70 million for our clients since 2010. Each week I interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur or a business expert in order to help take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. To learn more, visit TheGadgetFlow.com. Now let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined by Rohan Dixit with Lief. Rohan, thank you so much for joining us.

Rohan Dixit:

You are very welcome and thank you for having us.

Roy Morejon:

You have started this started project Lief that basically tracks and optimizes your resiliency to distress by increasing your natural heart rate, this HRV. Tell us what Lief is all about and why we should be concerned with our HRV?

Rohan Dixit:

Your HRV is a signal of your body stress. HRV stands for heart rate variability. It’s kind of like the natural variations between one heartbeat to the next. Scientists have been looking at this now for decades and realized that HRV can track your psychological health, your physical health. Right now a lot of biohackers and early adopters are already putting together contraptions and early apps to track and optimize HRV and we’ve made a smart patch that does it really well.

Roy Morejon:

We just saw Tim Ferriss on The Today Show talking about his newest book with “Tools of the Titans” and some of the biohacks that all the industry leaders in Silicon Valley tech folks are focusing on and certainly this is something. Lief’s journey obviously began a while ago. Tell us about that process and where you guys started.

Rohan Dixit:

Yes. I used to be a neuroscientist studying brain and meditation actually. What we would do is study these monks who would come into the lab, long-term meditators. 10,000 hours, 50,000 hours of meditation practice and what we found that was pretty interesting was your brain actually starts to change in as little as eight weeks of meditation or mindfulness practice using your attention to focus on your body sensations. It turns out that a lot of these very ancient meditation techniques have real biological basis and you can measure that and track it and optimize it. That’s where this started. I was working in a lab at Harvard and studying this stuff and realized, “Wow. These monks are real. They can do things with their body and their mind that really allows you to decrease your stress.”

They are really the ultimate stress hackers in a way. I bought a one way ticket to the Himalayan Mountains and I quit my job at the lab and went off in search of these monks to learn meditation, to record their brain waves, record their heartbeats and figure out if we could make a technology that would allow you to be as calm as a monk. That’s what we did. We spent like almost a year traveling to the mountains. Met a bunch of monks and just very crazy and interesting invidivuals up there with really amazing things that they could do with their body. A lot of this research on Lief must have started decades ago looking at these physiological tricks these monks could do. Raise the temperature of their ear up or down or slow down their heartbeat on command.

That was kind of where we got started with Lief and like the original inspiration actually behind making a tool that helps you be more calm.

Roy Morejon:

Truly impressive. Sounds like a bucket list item: one way ticket to the Himalayas.

Rohan Dixit:

It was definitely an experience. Highly recommended.

Roy Morejon:

Outside of all the work that you did, being a neuroscientist in Harvard and Stanford, how long have you guys spent preparing for this project?

Rohan Dixit:

Oh, gosh. It’s probably been a couple years in the making I think. I’ve been working on tools that help you kind of optimize your stress and increase your focus, make you more calm, more present for the last couple of years. I was dating a girl at the time who was a nurse and she got up really early in the morning one day like 5 a.m. It’s just crazy schedule. She kind of woke me up as she got out of bed and I couldn’t fall back to sleep even after she left. I got up. I was wondering around in kind of a half uncaffeinated, no coffee daze. You know what I’m talking about in the morning.

Roy Morejon:

Indeed.

Rohan Dixit:

I found her stethoscope actually lying on a desk. I’ve been looking to the body signals and trying to figure out, “Well, how can we track what’s happening inside of us so we can optimize it?” The heartbeat was really interesting. I hadn’t quite figured out what to do with it, but I put her stethoscope on my own chest and I was just listening and I realized, “Wow. If you could just get feedback in real time of your heartbeats, of your body in this closed loop where you can learn really fast, then maybe this could be a way to be as calm as monk.” This whole journey. I couldn’t figure out a way to attach the stethoscope to my body just to try it out, but one of her bras was lying on the floor. It’s like a dirty bra and so I put it on because San Francisco’s a cool city and just tucked the stethoscope in there and walked around for like a whole day.

Got a bunch of weird looks from people, but luckily San Francisco is, as I said, a pretty cool city. That didn’t go too badly. That was the beginning of realizing, “Oh, wow. There’s a huge amount of utility in being able to get your heartbeat fed back to you in a very ambient way throughout the day in terms of optimizing your stress.”

Roy Morejon:

Truly impressive, Rohan. I didn’t know any of that of you, but obviously that’s the level of expertise that it takes to figure that out and take this product to market. What ended up making you guys decide that Kickstarter was the proper way to launch this project?

Rohan Dixit:

I started being interested in meditation and neuroscience because when I was a kid, 16 or 17, I was really anxious, depressed. I had a tough time. I actually found a book called “Freedom From Sadness.” It had like a cheesy flower on it. I opened it up and it was all about meditation. That actually totally changed my life. I’m just been trying over the years to get this tool out to more people. Just a little bit of mindfulness, a little bit of five minutes, 10 minutes a day can help so much with people’s stress levels, with how you interact with other people. The quality and the love that you can put into your relationships. It just changes everything and it changed my life. That’s where it came from.

Roy Morejon:

Impressive. When you guys decided to put this product together, how did you decide on what features to include?

Rohan Dixit:

We want it to be really discreet and really comfortable. I think my co-founder, Nathaniel, who’s really headed a lot of the design for this product, has called this haptic literacy which is kind of this idea … We use vibration and complex patterns in the vibration to actually make you aware of what’s happening inside your body, make you aware of your heart beating, of your HRV, in a very almost augmented reality way that is almost like a sixth sense. It becomes a sixth sense for you. It’s feeding you information about your body throughout the day ambiently. That’s been a big design constraint and challenge and I think we’ve figured it out with the Lief using our haptic engine which allows you to kind of feel into your mental state anytime and also to be able to breath and do bio feedback in a wearable way.

Roy Morejon:

Interesting. What’s been the biggest surprise that you guys have encountered so far in the few days the campaign’s been active?

Rohan Dixit:

I think we were definitely surprised with the Kickstarter. It’s something that we hadn’t planned on doing. We kind of put it together pretty quick. It’s been great to see some of the content and some of the comments have been sharing with us about their anxiety, about their stress. It’s actually really made this human for me because I started this because I was suffering. Seeing real people and what they’ve been saying and they’re supporting how this want this out there, I think it just is really validating. I feel really grateful.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. You guys were a part of the HAX Accelerator Program. What’s that experience helped you guys out with?

Rohan Dixit:

HAX is the world’s number seed hardware investor and they’re great. They actually took us out to Shenzhen, China last year for almost four months. They’ve helped us find factories and set up the whole supply chain. They’re really great and they’ve helped us do our manufacturing right.

Roy Morejon:

What advice would you give to someone else looking to Kickstart their health product?

Rohan Dixit:

I would say make sure you look at FDA. No, make sure that what you’re selling is something that is … That you should really start with consumers and not go through doctors first. I think a lot of times there’s a lot of health innovation that’s happening right now and it’s very exciting for us especially as startup people and creators. I think there’s a lot they can do to temper that in terms of making sure things are safe. We’ve spent a lot of time on safety and making the device work well with science and with doctors. We have Stanford and UC as our partners. We’ve been testing it for years now and I think that’s a big difference between how a health startup is launched versus your typical startup where you can just kind of throw it out there and iterate fast.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. No, very true. Rohan, this gets us into our launch round where I rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

Rohan Dixit:

All right.

Roy Morejon:

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

Rohan Dixit:

My experience with mindful center early age helped me deal with my anxiety and that inspired me to become an entrepreneur. Just to make technology that helps more become and get it out there.

Roy Morejon:

If you could meet or let’s say meditate with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be

Rohan Dixit:

Oh, man. That has to be Nikola Tesla. He’s a huge hero of mine. That would be incredible.

Roy Morejon:

Would have been your question?

Rohan Dixit:

To Tesla? God. Don’t you wish you had Kickstarter? I think he had a lot of trouble with his investors and none of that stuff he ended up working on ever really panned out. I think in today’s world, Tesla would have been a huge success and really helped millions of people around the world. Good thing we live in these modern times.

Roy Morejon:

Indeed. Indeed. When you were a kid, who did you look up to when you were growing up?

Rohan Dixit:

My hero was Albert Einstein. I wanted to be a scientist. My grandfather was a scientist.

Roy Morejon:

Impressive. Outside of the book that you mentioned earlier, what other books are on your nightstand?

Rohan Dixit:

Oh, gosh. I’ve got “The Power of Habit” which is an incredible book about building habits. That’s kind of where I’m at. I’ve been reading a little bit about psychology and keeping interested I think is important. You get too focused in one particular thing that you might do in your professional career and not expand yourself and give yourself an opportunity to learn new things. I’m trying to read a little fiction as well.

Roy Morejon:

Never stop learning, right?

Rohan Dixit:

That’s right.

Roy Morejon:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Rohan Dixit:

Oh, gosh. Well, hopefully we’ll have a great Kickstarter here and we’ll start helping people be more calm and less stressed. I hope to be doing this and just helping more people.

Roy Morejon:

I hope so as well. Last question, what do you think the future of crowdfundng looks like?

Rohan Dixit:

Future of crowdfunding is definitely podcast like the Art of the Kickstart. I think connecting with people in a real way, being genuine, being a little vulnerable, I think that’s where the future is. Just radical transparency and honesty and that’s why I love Kickstarter and that’s why it’s been such a great conversation with you.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for that. No, definitely, Rohan. I appreciate it. Thank you for being on the show. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell us what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should go buy a Lief on Kickstarter.

Rohan Dixit:

Yes. We’re Lief, a smart patch that helps you be less stressed and more focused. If you’ve ever wanted to optimize your body and your mind to perform better, head on over to our Kickstarter and check us out. I appreciate it.

Roy Morejon:

Rohan, you’ve been awesome. Audience, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtOfTheKickstart.com for all the show notes, the full transcript, links to everything we talked about today including the campaign. Plus a coupon code for The Gadget Flow and a link to BackerKit.com. Rohan, thank you so much for being here.

Rohan Dixit:

Thanks.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit ArtOfTheKickstart.com and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes and our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. If you love this episode, leave us a review at ArtOfTheKickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business. If you need a more hands-on crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on CommandPartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.