I had been an entrepreneur, but I had no formal business background. I had never pitched, I’m a 5’2’’ female with ridiculously long hippie hair and here I am standing and telling venture capitalists that we’re going to control computers with my mind and they should give me millions of dollars for it. And, astonishingly, some of them did. So that was an extraordinary process. To date, I raised about $18.7 million until the time when I stepped down as CEO and then the CEO that succeeded me, Derek Luke, has raised probably another $10 million.
What’s it been like being a woman entrepreneur?
In some ways it has not felt any different because I don’t know the difference. I was a female CEO of a tech company ten years ago. As I was going through all of these things, I would feel quite confident in what I was doing and it would also be amazing to me that I was there. But I don’t think that was a matter of being male or female, I think anybody with no actual experience running a business and pitching VCs, with no MBA would probably also feel a sort of, “Wow, how did I get here?” But I got there with my tenacity and my knowledge that I can do this.
I probably have been discounted, but I never really experienced any negativity. In some ways I think I had a more positive experience being a female because people would be fascinated by it. I was a rare bird. People found my courage and inspiration fascinating and so they wanted to talk to me and introduce me to people. I showed up in silicon valley and strangers were introducing me to VCs after five minutes of conversation. In many ways, I think being a woman was advantageous because I was able to stand out in the crowd. It made me very compelling. As I went on to be the CEO of a tech company for seven years, people would always ask me what it was like being a woman in tech. At first that question angered me, I didn’t know why they were pointing out that I was a woman. I thought, why can’t we just accept that women are CEOs too and that’s fine?
Eventually I became more aware of how difficult other women were having it. I really recognized the barriers women face internationally in a visceral way and recognized how important it was to stand up and say yes, I am a woman CEO and that matters. We need to point it out, and we need to raise the flag, and flap our arms as loud as we can and say yes, we are here. And this is good. And we are role models. I’m extremely passionate about supporting women in business and mentor many women entrepreneurs across various feels to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to have success that they want in their own lives and not be held back by the voices in their own head or the social context around them.
What would you say has been your company’s biggest victory so far?
We brought a brain sensing headband to market that helps you meditate that you can buy in Best Buy. We created an entirely new product and new category, a new piece of hardware and integrated across technology, art, science, and neuroscience to create this thing—and changed hundreds of thousands of lives. This whole thing has been rather unbelievable.
What does your self-care routine look like?
I am very lucky to have created a meditation company along with my co-founders, and so meditation is a key part of my routine and a key part of my grounding. Taking the time to focus on my breath, being able to observe my thoughts and using that to ground myself is fundamental.