Roga Raises $1.2M in Pre-Seed Funding

Roga secures $1.2M in pre-seed funding for its innovative stress-reducing wearable device, set to launch this fall. Led by neuroscientist Alison Smith and former Google product manager Ami Lebendiker

Toronto and Los Angeles-based neurotech startup, Roga, is revolutionizing mental healthcare with its innovative wearable device designed to alleviate stress and burnout.


The company recently announced it has secured $1.7 million CAD ($1.2 million USD) in pre-seed funding to support the launch of its next-generation device this fall.


So, who’s behind Roga?


Roga is led by Alison Smith, a neuroscientist, and Ami Lebendiker, a former Google product manager.


But, Why are neuroscientists like Alison Smith and industry experts like Ami Lebendiker teaming up to fight stress and burnout?


Both founders have personal experiences with clinical anxiety and workplace stress, which motivated them to create a solution that is both effective and discreet.


Their solution?


Source: Roga

A wearable device that resembles fashionable headphones, using low-level electrical stimulation to the peripheral nerve behind the ears to reduce stress.


So, what makes Roga’s approach unique in tackling stress?


The product offers a science-backed wearable device to reduce brain activity associated with intense stress, paired with an app that provides highly personalized guided meditations and tracks progress analytics using AI.


Voted one of the ‘World Changing Ideas’ by Fast Company, Roga’s pocket-sized and fashionable form factor allows users to get the help they need wherever they are: at home, at work, or on the go. With the rate of intense stress skyrocketing since the pandemic, Roga is on a mission to provide people with an effective tool to combat stress and improve their quality of life.


The Roga device provides small electrical pulses to the peripheral nerve behind the ears, sending a feedback signal to the brain to reduce stress-related brain activity.

What makes Roga unique?


Unlike traditional stress management methods, Roga doesn’t require extensive therapy sessions or medication. Users simply integrate it into their daily routine, using the device for 20 to 60 minutes a day.


The technology underlying Roga is backed by years of neuroscience research, with ongoing studies at the University of Waterloo supported by MITACS.


But what makes this so significant?


According to Smith, “The type of stimulation we’re providing has been studied for decades. We are the first neurotech company to miniaturize it, but it’s based on many decades of science, and it’s the only type of stimulation recognized from a regulatory standpoint to treat intense stress and anxiety at home.”


But how effective is it, really?


The wearable device is paired with a mobile app that offers AI-driven guided meditation sessions and analytics to monitor treatment progress. Smith emphasizes that recent advancements in AI have significantly enhanced the personalization and impact of these meditations.

Neuroscientists Alison Smith

Dr. Alison Smith, co-founder and chief scientist at Roga. Source: Roga

Roga’s pre-seed funding round, which closed in June, marks the company’s first external financing. The round included investments from Exceptional Ventures, ODX by On Deck, MindEd Ventures, the AngelList Fund, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), and angel investors from senior positions at Samsung and Google.


This funding will be used to finalize the development of their next-generation device, as well as to invest in manufacturing, sales, marketing, and engineering.


Why the shift from direct-to-consumer to business-to-business sales?


Now, the interesting part is that Roga aimed to sell directly to consumers but shifted its focus to a business-to-business (B2B) model following interest from senior human resources leaders. The company aims to address the growing issue of workplace stress at a time when access to therapy is becoming more challenging due to high demand and costs. According to a recent Gallup poll, 41% of employees report experiencing significant stress, highlighting the need for effective stress management solutions in the workplace.


Which is a lot!


So, Roga has already secured five corporate clients in high-stress industries such as software development and cryptocurrency.


The company’s devices have achieved a 35% engagement rate among these clients, largely due to the flexibility and convenience they offer.


What’s next on Roga’s agenda?


Looking ahead, Roga plans to expand its reach by becoming part of health insurance packages and obtaining regulatory approval for the treatment of anxiety.


And get this – The company is also developing a more concealable, wireless version of its device to enhance user mobility.


You know, Roga’s been getting a lot of attention lately.


The company has received recognition from institutions such as the Ontario Brain Institute and the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation.


CABHI president and chief scientist Allison Sekuler praised Roga’s innovative approach, stating, “Roga fills a much-needed gap in the mental healthcare space, offering a simple, effective tool to address anxiety.”


With its innovative, science-backed approach to stress reduction and strong support from investors, Roga is poised to make a significant impact on the mental healthcare industry.


The company’s next-generation wearable device, set to launch this fall, promises to provide a convenient, cost-effective solution for managing stress and burnout, both in the workplace and beyond. 


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