|Founder||Aneela Idnani, Sameer Kumar, Kirk Klobe, John Pritchard|
Tech, Health & Wellness
|Press Contact||Aneela Idnani|
HabitAware is an award-winning mental health tech company started out of personal need. HabitAware created a patented smart bracelet to bring real-time awareness to trance-like Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). Using customized gesture detection algorithms the bracelet vibrates to gently remind users of these unwanted and restless hand movements, which include hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (dermatillomania) and nail biting. With awareness, 20M Americans affected by BFRBs can swap these unhealthy behaviors for healthier coping strategies to take control of stress, anxiety, boredom and other triggers. As a TIME Magazine Best Invention, HabitAware empowers positive life change for tens of thousands of people in 60+ countries.
HabitAware was founded out of personal need. After 20+ years of hiding behind a black eye pencil, Aneela Idnani was caught without eyebrows. Her husband, Sameer, noticed they were missing and asked what happened.
Aneela started pulling out her eyebrows in her tweens as a coping mechanism for stress, boredom, bullying and the sickness and loss of her father to leukemia. Like others with this mental health condition, she thought she was alone and wrong, when really she was 1 in 20 Americans with compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (dermatillomania), or nail biting (onychophagia).
Aneela lived in constant fear of being found out and on that day in 2013, she shared her hair pulling secret and Sameer shared his love and support. In the coming weeks, they talked more about it and when Aneela was pulling while watching TV one evening, Sameer gently took her hand. In that moment, Aneela had an "aha!"...
"What if I had something that notified me?" she asked Sameer as she wrapped her fingers around her wrist to indicate a bracelet.
Aneela & Sameer come from marketing/design and business backgrounds so they turned to the Minneapolis / St. Paul startup community for help. Through events and serendipity, they met Kirk Klobe (software/firmware) and John Pritchard (hardware). Both were intrigued with the idea, having family who also suffered from these issues. After working nights and weekends for a time, they four formed the HabitAware founding team in 2015 and quickly were off to Shenzhen, China to attend HAX Hardware Accelerator.
HabitAware's patented technology allows a user to train the Keen / Keen2 bracelet for a specific scanning motion of searching for a hair to pull, bump to pick at, or nail to bite. When the bracelet senses a match, it vibrates. This "hug" on the wrist is a gentle reminder of the unwanted behavior and a signal to choose a healthier soothing mechanism in the moment. With consistent practice, tens of thousands in the Keen Family can retrain their brain and take control of these harrowing mental health conditions.
CoFounder & President, Marketing/Design Lead
~15 years ago Aneela Idnani nearly committed suicide partly because she pulled out her hair and thought she was alone, ugly and not good enough. Hair pulling (trichotillomania) is part of a group of mental health conditions - Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors - that affect 1 in 20 Americans (~20M) who, like me, are hurting in hiding.
Today, Aneela has found purpose in this pain. Her company, HabitAware, empowers tens of thousands around the world to take control of hair pulling, as well as skin picking (dermatillomania), nail biting & face touching. Our smart bracelet, Keen, is a TIME Magazine Best Invention and holds research grants from the National Institute of Health & the National Science Foundation.
HabitAware’s patented technology recognizes & brings awareness to these restless hand movements with a gentle vibration. This cues a moment of pause for healthy self care. With consistent practice, our "Keen family" is heightening awareness and retraining their brains.
Aneela is a mental health advocate, author and TED speaker raising awareness of these very common yet unknown conditions. Aneela is a native New Yorker who proudly calls Minneapolis home with her husband, and business partner, Sameer, & their two young boys. She serves on the advisory boards of LaunchMN, BetaMN and the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) Twin Cities Chapter and teaches entrepreneurship at Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
She hopes her Keen family will overcome their struggles and convert the time and energy once spent battling their BFRBs to accomplishing their life purpose.