What inspired you to start your company?
Valence Vibrations was born out of a desire to make emotional communication easier. I grew up often struggling to read the room in conversation, and given my computational neuroscience background, I wanted to create an easier way to convey emotional information to improve empathy across people. My cofounder Shannon and I entered a haptics hackathon with the idea of creating real-time affective haptic feedback, and we’ve been working on it ever since!
Who are your cofounders, and what makes you a great team?
Shannon Brownlee is my wonderful cofounder and AI whiz, and we’re a great team because we balance out each other’s capabilities and have created a strong foundation of emotional support to ride the highs and lows of being a founder. We first met when we lived across from each other in our freshman dorm at USC, and we quickly discovered a shared love for biotech and wellness.
How is Valence Vibrations making a difference?
We founded this company as a public benefits corporation with the mission of translating emotions across demographics while honoring the power of each person’s unique voice, and we’ve designed our products to be highly customizable to honor that without forcing anyone to try to mask their individual communication styles, which are so important in a diverse world.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Being students and female founders, we struggled with the network effect of navigating the startup world without an easy community to tap into for connections. But because of this, we spent a ton of time building connections with movers in neurodiversity and in the LA tech scene to build that network for ourselves.
What is your biggest win?
We were super excited to hit 92% validation accuracy with our computing model because the industry standard is high 70s-low 80s, so this was a big technical win for us.
Who is your role model?
My high school role model was Dr. David Eagleman, CEO of Neosensory, and a giant within sensory augmentation and neuroscience in general. I was so excited about the opportunity to enter our project into their hackathon challenge and to eventually have David join our advisory board.
What do you wish you had known before starting your company?
I wish I had known the power of tapping into founder communities. Building a strong support network is so important when trying to build a company, and I really appreciate all my founder friends that have helped me along the way.
What is your CEO superpower?
My superpower is my ability to empathize with our customers and truly understand their pain points to build the most accessible product we can.