Editor’s Update: After a successful March 2015 crowdfunding campaign and clinical research study, FokusLabs launches its RE-vibe anti-distraction wearable band today. Using a proprietary algorithm, its vibrations remind kids and adults to stay focused when they begin to get distracted. Both Kickstarter orders and new ones begin shipping this week, in time for holiday gifting.
Here’s a video the company released this week to explain the device:
Everything about the RE-vibe—with the exception of the patented algorithms Device Solutions helped Brancaccio create—is simple. Originally designed with children in mind, the device is stripped of anything that might distract a young mind. There is a hidden button that is only reachable by the provided programming tool. LED lights are also hidden, blinking only when the battery begins to die (Its life is about seven days). It automatically powers on and off when you put it on and take it off. The reminder is a simple vibration but which changes in length or number each time so a person won’t get used to the vibrations and begin to ignore them.
It has three settings—mildly off-task, moderately off-task and highly off-task. The algorithms use the chosen setting to approximate how frequently the user will be off-task and reminds them accordingly. In addition, parents can activate a homework setting to keep their children focused while they complete their work, and help them determine when to take breaks.
Materials and manufacturing were also important to Fokus. To ensure the band is safe to wear, it’s made of food-grade plastic and does not contain any harmful chemicals such as phosphates, lead or BPAs. Partnerships with companies in California, Minnesota and North Carolina ensure the bands will be made in the U.S. and that production can begin as soon as Fokus completes a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Brancaccio chose crowdfunding in lieu of venture capital because he wants to connect directly with consumers to get feedback on colors and other features of the device. Specifically, the $25,000 campaign will allow for the purchase of plastic molds necessary to start the production process, and cover the cost to manufacture the first devices.
Once the RE-vibe is on the market, Brancaccio will sell it for roughly $100, but Kickstarter backers pay $69 for first dibs. RE-vibe will launch with both adult and child sizes.
To date, $4,524, or 18 percent, of the goal has been pledged. The campaign ends April 2.
Brancaccio will eventually seek venture funding once the demand and consumer base grows large enough. To get the band into classrooms, Brancaccio will sell directly to parents. If things take off, he says he’d be excited to sell to big-box stores or work with school systems, but for now will focus on selling directly to consumers.
Brancaccio says FokusLabs has, “a few plans to take this up a notch down the road.” He says, “There is a large need in the classroom, but a lot of companies don’t know there is the need so we want to bring in some unique products into that space to help improve education through technology.”
We’re adults and we all know by now that there are no Cinderella stories in the startup world—only passion and hard work and maybe a bit of luck of being in the right place at the right time.
Brancaccio’s story is no different, but his story is encouraging for the Triangle. It’s proof that the connections the entrepreneurial support organizations like Groundwork Labs work so hard to make actually matter. And it’s proof that the Triangle’s startup ecosystem is getting better at helping those with good ideas navigate the murky waters of creating a product, building a business and moving ideas to the market even if they don’t have technical or business experience.
It could even be possible that this story could foreshadow what we hope to see bear out in the data in the coming months and years—that North Carolina is not following national trends, but indeed becoming more entrepreneurial over time.