Founder Feature Fridays: Ashleigh Kennedy, Founder + CEO of Neurovine
Can you tell us a bit about Neurovine?
Neurovine is hacking brain health post-concussion, combining deep technology and machine learning with the art of neuroscience. The technology that we are developing quantifies the invisible nature of brain health post-injury to empower patients on their road to recovery. Neurovine is currently completing clinical trials at Elizabeth Bruyère Research Institute and has just raised an oversubscribed round of pre-seed financing.
How did you come up with the idea for Neurovine, and where did your passion for building this business stem from?
The idea for the business combines my life’s work and a real pain point felt by family doctors. My father played professional football and I have stood with him as he lost friends to concussion related mental health issues. I made it my mission to learn as much about the brain as possible so I could understand why this was happening, spending 10 years completing post-graduate training and research on the brain. The specific pain point that triggered the development of Neurovine was first articulated by Matthew, my husband, co-founder and a family doctor with a special interest in concussion recovery. Matt was able to see and quantify improvement and recovery from injuries to any other part of the body but concussion recovery is an invisible and subjective process. He was getting frustrated at the lack of information on which to base his decisions and saw that his patients were navigating the recovery process in the dark. At that point we realized it was time to translate the science I had spent so long understanding into a tool that could be used to help patients and clinicians alike.
What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth?
Neurovine is still very early stage but the hardest part of our growth so far has been convincing people that our small company can tackle this huge issue. Everyone sees the need and likes the passion we have but points out that Neurovine has a long road and many hurdles ahead. As co-founders we are more aware of this than anyone but really believe that our products are needed and have the potential to transform peoples lives. We’ve had to ignore a lot of criticism and disbelief but have been fortunate to also have a people who believe strongly in what we are doing and have supported us financially and with great mentorship.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs?
My advice for other entrepreneurs is to seek feedback as early and as often as possible and to use it to fuel your fire and refine your ideas. The worst-case scenario for Neurovine would be to spend huge amounts of time and money building our technology in stealth mode only to find patients and clinicians don’t want it. It’s really humbling, terrifying and totally counter our nature as academics to show rough early products to potential customers but we’ve found they love being involved in the development process early on.
My second piece of advice is to find a mentor early on because you only learn to fly after you’ve already taken the leap off the cliff.