Good Health and Well-Being

The Power of Telling Your Secret, with Aneela Idnani Kumar, HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet to help manage Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). For 20 years, Aneela Idnani Kumar had a secret. She spent her life in shame and embarrassment. One day, unexpectedly, her secret came to light. This moment transformed her life, and in the process, helped thousands of others. Aneela grew up in a somewhat atypical Indian American household. “My parents came to this country in the 1970s with $500 and one suitcase. They made their way to upper middle class. My mom broke away from tradition as a dentist with her professional practice. In contrast, my father worked primarily from a home office and was in charge…

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From Iron Deficiency to Iron Man, with Gavin Armstrong, Lucky Iron Fish

Iron deficiency is a massive, but preventable condition. Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise is dedicated to reducing iron deficiency rates around the world. In high school, Gavin Armstrong was bullied severely. “I took it that I needed to make lots of money to prove bullies wrong,” Gavin explains. “The image I had of bankers was, they were all successful, driving expensive cars. And, I thought if I could live that life, I would prove to bullies, and maybe even to myself that I had worth.” Gavin attended the University of Guelph to study finance. However, he described his coursework as “miserable.” While at the university, he took a field trip to…

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Improving Healthcare, One Story at a Time, with Jay Newton-Small, MemoryWell

MemoryWell is making lasting memories for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Jay Newton-Small knows a thing or two about storytelling. She’s worked as a journalist for more than 15 years, with her work appearing in Time and Bloomberg. Jay’s father Graham was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when Jay was in college. He became one of her first in-depth interview subjects. She spent many hours interviewing him and grew to become his voice. When her mother passed away in 2006, Jay became her father’s primary caregiver. When Jay moved her father, Graham, into an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility, she knew that it was time to tell his story. Upon arriving at the facility,…

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Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Humanitarian Missions, with Lori Most, BinaryBridge

BinaryBridge creates software that helps humanitarians do their work effectively and efficiently. Lori Most grew up seeing television commercials of humanitarian crises, especially in Africa. Lori recounted, “I always wanted to go to Africa and help…I thought ‘I’m going to grow up and go over there.” In college, she started as a pre-med student. Part way through she switched to engineering. “I changed directions a lot,” she laughed. When she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in mathematics, she was left with this sense that she still wanted to help. After graduating, Lori quickly found work in the booming field of software development. She worked as a…

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Improving the Health of People and Companies, with Zach McGill, Perk Health

Perk Health helps you pick up healthier habits in a way that is sustainable. Zach McGill and Doug DeBold grew up playing sports. Games taught them so much: achievement, competition, leader boards, point scoring, rewards, rules of play, self-expression, socializing, mastery, and status. When it was time for college, Doug went off to college in Vermont while Zach attended the University of Minnesota. Initially, Zach studied engineering. He wanted to invent things. But, he says, “I realized, with engineering, there would be less inventing and lot more equations.” So, he started studying entrepreneurship. “It became clear to me that my path was going to be to start and build companies.”…

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139, Sonja Ausen-Anifrani, SMS Maama | Reduce Maternal Mortality in Uganda

Sonja Ausen-Anifrani believes that maternal mortality can be reduced by providing the health information that every woman deserves.   The founders of SMS Maama met at a course on social entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota. None of them had experience in being an entrepreneur or building a social venture. The class provided mentors in Uganda. They worked on their idea and, when the class was over, they walked away with a grade and a business plan. But now, they were on the hook. They knew what the problem was and they suspected that perhaps they had a solution. And if they could do something about maternal mortality, didn’t they…

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