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TouchPoint Founders On Entrepreneurial Success And Stress Relief

Business

TouchPoints are a non-invasive, wearable device that uses patent-pending neuroscience technology called BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation-tactile) to not only relieve stress and anxiety, but also improve focus, reduce cravings, improve performance, manage anger, reduce sensory overload and better enable sleep. Recent studies have found that TouchPoints can actually reduce stress by 74% in just 30 seconds, which is something that many women - entrepreneurs, execs and moms alike - can most definitely use.


They were created by Neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin and CEO and Child Advocate Vicki Mayo as the first product launched through their company The TouchPoint Solution.

Mayo has just participated and won the Live Pitch Competition hosted by Project Entrepreneur underwritten by UBS and the Rent the Runway Foundation. Over 600 women and their businesses applied. 200 were invited to the Weekend Intensive this past weekend in NYC. From there 12 were chosen to be part of the live pitch competition with a chance to compete for $10,000 and a spot in the Rent The Runway NY based Accelerator program in June.

Vicki Mayo

1. How did you find yourself in the health field?

Amy: After spending several years in business development for Fortune 500 companies and internet start-ups such as Black and Decker, WebMD, and The Patent and License Exchange, I left to pursue my doctorate in Neuropsychology so I could focus on healing others. I was always fascinated by neuroscience and psychology and wanted to pursue both within the context of helping others be their best selves.

Vicki: I am an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. When Dr. Serin and I had an “aha!” mommy moment on how to help our children, it laid the foundation for creating The TouchPoint Solution and ultimately TouchPoints that allow us to help thousands of people that struggle with stress and anxiety.

2. Please tell me where the idea for TouchPoints came from. What does the product do exactly?

Vicki: Amy (Dr. Serin) and I have been friends for a number of years. One day we were chatting and I shared my struggles with my daughter’s night terrors. Amy shared a new technology she was working on (which later became the TouchPoints). We tried it on my daughter and lo and behold she was able to sleep. I tried it on my husband and he too slept better; I tried it on myself before big public speaking engagements. It’s as if we had been given an amazing gift! I was sold. Being an entrepreneur I knew this was too powerful to not share with the world. Amy and I decided to launch The TouchPoint Solution on the premise of making this technology affordable and accessible to the masses. This premise is also the background behind our scholarship program. Our goal is to give away one set of TouchPoints for every two we sell. You can apply for a financial need based scholarship on our website.

3. What was your first step when you decided to launch a business?

Vicki: Once we set up our legal structure and operating agreement, I hired engineers to build the first prototypes. The day we held the first pair of TouchPoints (May 2016) was surreal! The next five months were a blur of refining the prototypes, developing an app, branding and creating a logo and name, setting up a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, and setting up an e-commerce platform.

Dr. Amy Serin

4. A lot of women avoid health/tech, do you have any thoughts as to why?

Amy: I think traditionally in male-dominated businesses, women might feel intimidated and may shy away from pursuing goals in these industries. Honestly I didn't even think of TouchPoints as a tech business in the beginning because I was so focused on the profound and immediate effects and what that could mean on a global scale in terms of stress relief and improved productivity.

5. Have you encountered any issues in this field as a woman?

Amy: I think there is still bias towards men seeming more credible and as a woman there are always additional rites of passage to go through in terms of proving yourself. I've had many situations where if I'm with a male trainee, a third party will refer to him as the doctor and assume that I am an assistant. I've encountered situations where the business or scientific goals for a meeting turned out the other party being interested in pursuing a personal relationship and attempting to cross professional boundaries. I actually feel that neuropsychology and neuroscience are good fields for women and I have not felt the glass ceiling effect in this field that I felt everyday in my past career in business development.

6. Your sales numbers are impressive. To what do you attribute the fast success of your products?

Vicki: TouchPoints aren’t just about the newest and latest wearable. It’s about giving people a lifestyle tool. When you empower someone to change the story of their life, that’s a powerful thing. The far reaching effects of TouchPoints spoke for themselves. With limited product out, people were #PairingAndSharing their TouchPoints. We had numerous videos and posts go viral throughout our launch. It’s a snowball effect. Someone tries TouchPoints and loves it and they tell 10 of their friends who tell another 10 friends and before you know it we are reaching over 100,000 people per day.

7. You plan to be a $6 million company in 2017, how are you planning to do this?

Vicki: As a mentioned, we are relying heavily on word of mouth or “share of post.” TouchPoints work and as soon as people try them they feel it for themselves. We stay quite active on Social Media and we plan to continue sharing success stories.

8. How do you plan to evolve the business? Where do you see it going in the next 2-3 years?

Vicki: Well it’s kind of a secret, but we have a new product launching in the next two weeks. It’s called TouchPoints Basic and it was created in response to hundreds of comments we received from people asking for a version of TouchPoints that could be used in remote areas or areas where phones/tablets were not allowed. TouchPoints Basic will be available in fun, cool colors and will offer two to three of our most used frequencies. More information can be found on our website.

9. Can you speak to the health/tech issue in today's society? What are the biggest issues affecting women today?

Amy: I think that health tech is evolving rapidly and I think the issues of functionality and impact are important. You want to maximize impact without being invasive. There are some implant devices that require surgery that I'm not sure yield a better result than non-invasive approaches, for example. And I can see how consumers would be confused when looking at all the health/tech options because it is such a big, evolving space. The science can be overwhelming and difficult to understand so it may be hard to tease out what the real results of a product will be and how invasive it really is. I think the biggest issue affecting women who are looking to invest in health/tech products are teasing out which products are effective and how they can improve their lives. Women are amazing multi-taskers and are the glue that holds families and societies together. They need solutions to help them live in today's world without adding more to their already busy schedules and we think TouchPoints can be a part of their overall strategy for living into their best lives.

10. How do you market your product? Is it more difficult in the health field?

Vicki: TouchPoints is a lifestyle product, not a medical device and it is not intended to cure or treat illness or medical conditions. TouchPoints help with self-regulation. They alter the body’s stress response which helps with focus and can improve performance. We have users that tell us their sleep is better and parents tell us their children focus while doing their homework to name a few.

11. Overall, what was your biggest learning throughout your business journey?

Amy: For me, the biggest learning was how impactful social media is. There are positives and negatives to this. One positive is that businesses have to have integrity and be transparent because any problems can be broadcast immediately. This means businesses that are doing the right thing can be nimble and make immediate improvements based on feedback. The flip side is that anyone can say anything and uninformed opinions can create a false impression. I'd love to see the social media feed when scientists throughout history introduced any paradigm change, which is what we are doing. The real-time scrutiny and skepticism eventually washes out with time but in the meantime there's a lot of misinformation that can be perpetuated by anybody at any time.

12. Why is it important to take control of our stress levels, especially as business women?

Vicki: I don’t think people give stress and anxiety enough credit. People say all day long, I’m so stressed, I’m so anxious. They will say they are dealing with stress or managing stress, but I’m not sure they realize the actual toll it’s taking on their body. A recent study showed that 60-70% of disease comes from excessive stress and anxiety. 60-70%! That means that if there was a paradigm shift in how we thought about stress and addressed stress, we could theoretically see a huge decline in disease. It’s a domino effect. If we could reduce disease, healthcare costs would go down, people would live longer, healthier, and ultimately more productive lives.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.