Originally published in the Philadelphia Citizen
Philly startup Neuroflow could change the way veterans and mental health professionals diagnose post-traumatic stress—something long overdue.
Chris Molaro, co-founder of Neuroflow, doesn’t mind the fact that I’m 10 minutes late to our interview. As a matter of fact, he sees it as a teachable moment.
“We don’t have a lot of science about how the mind interacts with the body,” he says. “When you’re stressed, and you’re on the I-95, and you’re late for something, that’s not just in your head. That’s something physiologically manifesting itself. Your heart rate changes, your alpha waves increase, your EEG level changes. That’s all data.”
Very gracious of him. And very apropos, considering Molaro’s business: Along with his partner, Adam Pardes, he launched Neuroflow in 2016 to chart neurological movements in real time during psychiatric sessions in order to make diagnosing mental illnesses easier. Neuroflow uses a head set attached to a patient’s head to examine and electroencephalogram (EEG) readings in real time, during psychological examinations.
Originally published in Penn Tech Review
“Having the honor to lead 40 soldiers in combat environment had its challenges,” said Christopher Molaro, current Wharton MBA student, co-founder of NeuroFlow, and civil engineer from West Point, “especially in terms of the health of the soldiers.” In 2011, he lead his platoon into the Iraq War where he saw firsthand how the soldiers often struggled with stress levels, anxiety, and PTSD because of being away from home and family for years at a time.
After a year of serving in Iraq, Molaro arrived back in Texas. What he found was disheartening. At the Texas base location, the only medical screening tool being used for mental health assessments on veterans was a dated 10 question survey. Molaro comments on how these surveys can be subjective by nature and prone to error. He also noted that there is a negative stigma tied to mental health disorders that causes people to avoid the matter or mark it as taboo. The harsh reality still stands: 22 veterans a day commit suicide and 8 million Americans are diagnosed with PTSD each year. Molaro recognized the lack of understanding on how the human brain reacts and what goes on in these veteran’s minds, but he did not yet have a plan to start a company to solve this problem.
Originally published in The Daily Pennsylvanian
The competition, which is run by the Weiss Tech House, strives to promote technological innovation by rewarding the most promising proposals with funding and mentorship opportunities.
Pennvention garnered more than 75 submissions, whittling down the number of teams to eight after two rounds of judging. Throughout the three-month process, teams sharpened their ideas by seeking guidance from 50 mentors whose expertise spans business, law and other fields.
NeuroFlow , the second-place team, constructed a digital health platform that equips doctors with biometric data, an objective tool that can inform treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders. Comprised of undergraduates, MBA and Ph.D. students from Penn and Drexel University, the team has already been refining the product for 10 months and plans on delivering their platform to the U.S. Military Academy’s sports psychology program.
“Since the competition is a very time-sensitive thing to have something ready by today, we made decisions about what needs to be focused on and what can be put off until later,” Drexel senior Matthew Roll said. “That type of pressure is good because it makes us make tough decisions.”
The team also honed the product's presentation by preparing a video for the second round of the competition. “We learned how to present this software in a way that appealed to the general public and the judges, not just to the consumers and the physicians who would be using the software, and how to frame the software so that audience will get the most of what we show of it,” Engineering senior Taylor Concannon said.
Originally published in Inc.
Take a Deep Dive, Christopher Molaro, Field Artillery Officer, US Army; CEO NeuroFlow.
One of our biggest values is open communication and respectful, yet critical and constructive, dissent. I'm not the bioengineer; I'm not the software engineer, nor am I the neuroscientist. These people were brought onto the team for their value-add, opinions, perspectives and expertise. They're also valued members of the team, and if something is not going well for them, whether personally or in the broader context of the company, I want to hear about it. Even if it may be uncomfortable. I need to determine the underlying problem in order to fix the larger one.
Originally published in Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog
Bill Gates famously crashed Windows 98 in a live demo. In fact, there are numerous examples of such failures—no one is safe from a live demo disaster! There is just so much that can go wrong that is out of your control, and if Murphy has anything to say about, he will make sure that if something can go wrong, it surely will.
The other week, the NeuroFlow team was headed to Austin, TX as we were accepted into the pitch competition at the SXSW Interactive Conference. Two weeks before our trek to Texas, we were finalizing the specifics of the pitch—a pitch we have done for the last 10 months, probably hundreds of times, and were merely polishing.
But this was SXSW. The big stage. Tens of thousands of people. Investors. Early adopters. Partners. I didn’t want to do our normal pitch. After all, these weren’t normal circumstances. One of NeuroFlow’s value propositions is real-time monitoring of biometrics and stress levels, so I wanted to do just that—monitor my stress, in real-time, while on the stage presenting. (In reality, we are measuring the power of various waves and other biometrics which are arguably “stress”—hence the purpose of our official academic study that is underway to validate this claim).
I proposed the idea to my team two weeks before the pitch. To that point, we had a working software but it had only been localized on our personal computers—never streamed to an independent server, and never visualized on the web for everyone in the wild to witness. One developer said, “no way. We can’t get that to work in time.” One developer looked hesitant but maybe that I could convince him. I pushed back, and asked what it would take, what they needed from me and what were their chances? They hesitantly said, “Yeah, it’s possible, I suppose.”
We were going to do it. Two weeks, and live demo. Silly looking back on it, given that live demos fail even when they are well vetted, tested and developed for months.
Two days before the pitch: myself and my co-founder, Adam Pardes, bio-engineering Ph.D. at Penn, were in Austin, communicating remotely with the development team. It was working. Kind of. It was buggy and would drop the data signal and the analysis was noisy.
One all-nighter. Two all-nighters. Kudos to the development team.
Originally published in Technically Philly
On the first day of SXSW Interactive, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a powerful message to a captivated crowd. He was in Austin to announce his foundation's new cancer initiative. The enthusiasm of the audience was reflective of a highly healthcare-centric SXSW. The trade show, interactive programs and keynote addresses by folds like IBM boss Ginni Rometty and Johnson and Johnson chief exec Alex Gorsky had a common message: data will transform healthcare.
Allow me to channel Biden, who declared war on cancer through his original Cancer Moonshot back in 2016: Every healthcare company, large and small, has their part to play to make incredible advances possible.
Philadelphia based company, NeuroFlow, to showcase their digital health platform that quantifies stress in the SXSW Accelerator Health and Wearables category
PHILADELPHIA, PA — March 8, 2017 — NeuroFlow, a Philadelphia based company, is changing the way we see brain health with their digital health solution that leverages biometric data for mental health and enhanced performance applications. NeuroFlow was selected as an alternate in the Health and Wearables category for the ninth annual SXSW Accelerator competition. The accelerator is the marquee event of South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals (March 10-19, 2017) Startup Village®, where leading startups from around the world showcase some of the most impressive new tech innovations to a panel of hand-picked judges and a live audience. Out of the more than 500 companies who applied to present at SXSW Accelerator, NeuroFlow was selected as one of 50 finalists and 30 alternates across ten different categories.
NeuroFlow will present alongside seven other companies in the Health and Wearables category at The Hilton Austin Downtown on March 11, 2017 at 3:30pm. The two-day event will be held during the first weekend of SXSW Conference and Festivals on the third floor of the Downtown Austin Hilton. The pitch competition will then culminate with the SXSW Accelerator Awards Ceremony on Sunday evening, March 12, where winning startups from each category will be announced and honored. NeuroFlow will also have a booth, co-located, with the Penn Center for Innovation, in the main convention hall, Booth #1822.
“We are thrilled and humbled with the opportunity to showcase our technology and share our vision for its long-term impact. There is a lot of work yet to be done, but the entire team has worked tirelessly over the last year to get to this point, and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone’s effort and progress,” stated NeuroFlow’s CEO, Christopher Molaro. “Science and technology have already increased our understanding of space, nature, and the oceans to extraordinary limits. In many ways, the brain is the last frontier, one which NeuroFlow is excited to help conquer in order to better our understanding of mental health and improve the lives of individuals worldwide.”
For more information about the SXSW Accelerator or to view the complete list of finalists, please visit the following site: http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/awards/accelerator.