Females-In-Tech Spotlight: Flavia (Edelin) Wahl
This month we’re focusing on health and wellness through hardtech. And though our thoughts might quickly jump to treadmills and Fitbits, we want to also take a moment to shine the spotlight on a female-in-tech who is forging a path through breath. The positive implications breathing exercises can have on our whole body health is empowering to say the least. Research from top universities such as Harvard explain that build-up of day-to-day stress can cause high blood pressure which leads to heart disease, weak immune systems, anxiety and even depression. But intentional breathing as an antidote, can “evoke the relaxation response.” Breathing practiced through techniques such as yoga or meditation are phenomenal for our bodies’ wellness. And so we want to bring light to a female bridging these traditional wellness practices, with today’s tech. Here is the story of Flavia Wahl.
Flavia (Edelin) Wahl was born in Romania and grew up in Germany. She attended school at Karls University of Tübingen in Germany and holds degrees in Psychology as well as a Masters in Business. Before founding iBreve, she worked at Google’s HQs in Dublin in the Legal Department as a Product Lead for Google Image Search and as a Language Lead in their data privacy German division. Then again, Flavia worked at Google’s Boston office in business development (Google GSuite). In short, it was a long and world-wide road before Flavia was inspired to break into her own entrepreneurship role as CEO. Still, being a worker bee for the world’s largest search engine prepared her for the Founder role. She describes her past at Google: “Google equipped us (her co-founder and her) with the skills to lead a technology business, reach customers across borders and a unique network to tap into.”
Outside of work, Flavia has always been passionate about solving complex human problems, like health barriers. It was a month-long trip with her co-founder, to Rishikesh, India – also known as the yoga capital of the world, that inspired iBreve. The two future founders witnessed first-hand the ancient breathing techniques of eastern cultures, and the opportunities that could be created bringing breath sensors to the west. They soon left Google in 2016 with the mission to create a world free of stress-related diseases.
It wasn’t long until they had their prototype and attended the Mobile World Congress hardware acceleration program. They then participated in CRAASH Barcelona - the acceleration program run by Biocat and CIMIT (Boston/EIT Health). Flavia recognizes this push from the networking side quickened their growth. They made valuable US and EU connections, along with gaining notoriety and awards across the pond.
On the other side of these growth spurts, the iBreve team continues to develop their non-invasive wearable. Flavia explains the very human challenge her team is working to solve: "The main problem [humans] have is that we spend all day sitting in front of a screen, and spend too many hours in the same position." This affects our breathing. It stops us from taking time for ourselves, to focus not on devices but on living in the present real tangible moment. It means we consume constant levels of stress and anxiety without a break, day-in and day-out. Simple breathing techniques can help, but we need a way to detect, track, and guide our breath.
And so, iBreve is developing a wearable to help people measure, analyze your personal anxiety patterns in real-time. It identifies short and shallow breathing, then leads the user through relaxation exercises for long-term stress resilience and calming wellness. “Its machine learning algorithm optimizes your stress resilience long-term,” explains Wahl during an interview with Women of Wearables (WoW).”
During development, Flavia was especially particular about one point: to make the hardware “as useful and as easy for a woman as possible.” At the beginning of their journey, she and her co-founder found that most hardware was designed and created by men for men, often removing essential details that might add to women's lives. The iBreve wearable contrasts from this in that it is extremely non-invasive and slips on any shape or material bra for easy use by women everywhere.
Their goal is to launch the health product as soon as possible. They want to prevent uncritical anxiety and enhance our health through monitoring and enhancing our breathing. Ultimately, the team hopes to promote healthy living through breath.
Today, the iBreve team works out of Dublin and Barcelona. Flavia exemplifies the lifestyle her team aims for by making a very conscious effort to have calm and intentional days. She does yoga in the mornings and plans her days with purpose. “Some days are very focused and other days you need a break.” She admits on the The World of Hardware Startups podcast. But she doesn’t show guilt, or degrade this reality. She knows it’s her authentic self, and being gentle with yourself administers a healthy body, but also a healthy soul. We look forward to witnessing her example in this much needed health arena. iBreve is helping users breathe "smarter," but it also allows them experience full wellness.