Uniting Function And Form: Meet The Smart Pillbox Changing The Game


Regina Vatterott is no ordinary 23 year-old. The only lady in the quartet that makes up the Elliegrid team has proven herself an invaluable member of the entrepreneurial scene in Houston, but also as the sole woman of a 4-man team and co-founder of smart pillbox Elliegrid. She is a rare find in someone in the under 25 year-old mark who has achieved so very much and continues to devote her time to promote this product that will continually give back to the health and wellness of those who use it.

Illness, weakness, strength are all friends or adversities to the human condition at one stage or another of our long lives - and whether you’re an under-the-weather, overworked college student or a 70-year-old retiree - we can all forget to take our vitamin D or daily med. Elliegrid intelligently pairs with an app on your phone to notify you when to take your vitamins and prescription medicines, as it would to wake you up everyday - easy as pie. It also looks nice - almost like a futuristic gameboy with no screen, and a sleeker finish.

The heart-warming story behind the concept derives from Vatterott’s co-founder Abe who found his grandfather in a less than desirable condition after forgetting to take his medication for multiple days in a row due to how complicated and intricate his routine had become. According to Vatterott, Elliegrid was thus born out of Abe’s drive to help his grandfather and those like him to keep up with their medication. The product's immediate popularity has now spread to those millennials who work and play too much to remember their own daily doses.

"It’s really hard to find medical supplies that don’t make people feel like they’re a patient."

Vatterott’s personal relationship with the box comes from the passing of her aunt from cancer. While she acknowledges that of course the help of a simple pill box would not have saved her aunt from the disease, she posits that perhaps her last months would have been less painful and stressful with the aid of something such as Elliegrid.

One of Vatterott's goals, in fact, is to create a new patient standard for those going through medication-heavy conditions like cancer. This drive to help others in a similar situation to her aunt or Abe’s grandfather has lead the team to enormous success, with a campaign driven by empathy.

“There were other smart pillboxes on the market - we’re certainly not the first, but they were all very complicated and very expensive.”

Having received an offer early on for $1 million for half the company - Vatterott and the team decided they would make the money themselves keeping ownership of the product. Today Elliegrid’s initial Indiegogo goal of $40,000 has been substantially surpassed and continues to grow, as the initiative has caught the eye of some big industry names. Athletes like Venus Williams, who have a requirement of more than a few medical aids or vitamins have come out openly to back the product, are perhaps the most noteworthy. Along with this star-studded support, the box has received attention from all aspects of the entrepreneurial and tech industries, with accolades in the past year like placing in the TechCrunch Pitch-Off 2016, the Health 2.0 Takeda Challenge, and the Regional Hardware Cup hosted by AlphaLabs.

"It was always just really hard to organize the medication - I remember just boxes upon boxes. At that point it was very critical. I’ve always wondered whether we could have made that process more efficient"

Vatterott sounds almost astonished at how successful her Indiegogo campaign has been - having vacillated about what platform to launch Elliegrid’s crowdfunding from in the beginning. Indiegogo’s receptive and encouraging team aided Vatterott and her teammates who never once had to outsource for their campaign - all of the graphics and campaign detail were done by themselves. Among co-founders Regina, Abe, Nicolas and Hieu, the group appears the perfect millennial amalgamation of tech, marketing, logistics and engineering - and having grown Elliegrid from nothing but sticky glue and an idea.

It is perhaps one of the most desirable qualities attracting investors and awards to the product - the team’s ability to utilize its capital efficiently and with great effect. There are perhaps no limits to the fierce foursome’s capabilities given what Vatterott refers to as their ‘cockroach’ nature - being able to survive on so little for so long.

What’s next for Elliegrid? Vatterott says a pink version is in the works - meeting every girl’s smart pill box dream.

5 min read

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.