Aneela Idnani hid her stress-induced hair pulling for 20 years. So she founded a company, HabitAware, to create one. Its flagship product: Keen, a sleek, smart bracelet that users program to pick up on repetitive motions, such as hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting.
For most people, biting their nails is just a bad habit, but for many with mental health issues, it’s a symptom of something much more serious. Moreover, if this helps people who pull hair, a condition known as trichotillomania, it also could help folks who pick their skin or binge eat to satisfy anxieties. The HabitAware founders are in the process of raising up to $2 million in their inaugural formal round of capital raising.
Arlan Hamilton is founder and managing partner of Los Angeles-based Backstage Capital, which has invested more than $5 million in 100 startups whose high-potential founders are people of color, women or LGBTQ. Two of those startups are in Minnesota, includingMinneapolis-based HabitAware, the winner of the $50,000 grand prize in the 2018 MN Cup entrepreneurial competition, and the developer of a smart bracelet to make users aware of hair-pulling and other unwanted repetitive behavior.