Business 25 April 2017
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.
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.
3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.