Interview with Stefan Chmelik and Anna Gudmundson, Bioself Technology

Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic

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Founder and CEO of Bioself Technology, Stefan Chmelik, is a Harley Street specialist and lifelong meditator, runs an established stress management and mindfulness practice and is a UK pioneer of technology-assisted relaxation. The BioSelf Technology vision is driven by his experience that ‘modern people can’t easily relax or meditate’, as the skills required are too hard and time-consuming to learn. His solution to this critical problem was to investigate technological shortcuts to the benefits of meditation.

Recently turn-around CEO at Kin Wellness (sold in 2017), and now Strategic Business advisor with focus on tech and data, Anna Gudmundson is working directly with executive teams to navigate the business strategy in the ever-changing world of technology and digitalisation. Anna also heads up Operations for BioSelf Technology and has a great passion for pioneering tech and data in the fields of health and wellbeing.

For those who don't know what Sensate is, please tell our readers what is the idea behind it and how did you come up with it?

S: I created Sensate to enable the many people who try, or want to have, a regular meditation practice or deep relaxation experiences, but have found progress to be very slow, and the techniques quite difficult to master. The technology uses passive and non-verbal stimulation, so no effort or experience is required. You literally just close your eyes and experience the whole body, 3D tactile sensations and immersive soundscapes for 10 minutes. 98% of people using Sensate for one session notice the difference and their biometric markers improve.

A lot has happened since the last time we spoke. Please tell us about the most important milestones. 

S: The first Sensate sold out and is being used by people now with really good responses:

https://www.getsensate.com/pages/what-people-are-saying

An upgraded Sensate is now available to pre-order for WoW members and is also likely to sell out - use code WOW15OFF to save as a WoW member: https://www.getsensate.com/ 

We’ve also added some amazing people to the team; in fact, the majority of the team members working to launch the new Sensate are women.

How long did it take you to be where you are now?

S: Well, the company was formed in 2016, but the journey as a whole spans the last 30 years in healthcare, and actually goes back to age six or seven when my father taught me and my brother to meditate.

What was the biggest obstacle? 

S: The problem with being a disruptive innovator is that you are offering a solution that nobody has created yet, so there isn't an existing version of what we do, to point to. This is why the tech sector needs visionary investors as well as visionary founders.

As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? 

A: We’re defining a new category! That is always a challenge. In our case, the demand is there and our sales trajectory, as well as usage numbers, are looking great. But despite the fact that we have an incredible product that can help reduce a lot of anxiety and suffering in the world, we still need to effectively communicate and build trust with potential users. We have people who know about the power of vagus nerve toning buying our products months ahead of the release, yet the wider market is still learning about this topic. 

Anna, how about being a female entrepreneur?

A: I’ve been in tech my entire career. As much as my gender hasn’t always played in my favour and unconscious bias does exist, I’ve always had a very positive perspective. It’s about time that we address all bias, across all industries; race, gender, biases around disabilities, age, religion or sexual orientation. We must remember that we owe all the freedom and rights that we have today, to the people who stood up and fought for them in the past. Every little effort and action matters. 

I love this job and I see a bright future where we have a lot better balance amongst entrepreneurs as well as in the rest of society. 

Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why? 

A: Minorities need groups! I’ve definitely felt like an oddball many times in my career and often been the only woman. It has been great to meet other women in the industry, and earlier in my career, role models were especially important. I’ve experienced a supportive and positive environment where important matters specific to women in the industry can be discussed. Indeed, one day hopefully we won’t need the movement anymore! 

What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all founders and entrepreneurs in this industry out there? 

A: I have a product background and also work as an advisor. It always surprises me how many people invest a lot of money in developing product (software or hardware) without any level of validation. Test, ask, experiment, research, approximate and prototype. My advice would be to have incredible curiosity around all aspects of the business idea; the technology, the market, your potential users and their needs and behaviours, about price models and financials, you name it. Be an explorer! 

What will be the key trends in the wearable tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?

A: Paying people for their data, building trusting relationships through total transparency and authenticity, and tech that actually solves a real need and is more than data tracking. The era of ‘hardware is hard’ is over. Wearables have moved past the deception stage and are finding new niches with more clearer use cases and more solid business models. 

Who are your 3 inspirational people / businesses in wearable tech?

S: Dr Fotini Markopoulou, Doppel; Jacob Skinner, Thrive Wearables; Nite Owl.

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Meet Sensate II

An upgraded Sensate is now available to pre-order for WoW members and is also likely to sell out - use code WOW15OFF to save as a WoW member: https://www.getsensate.com/ 


This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic.