An innovator’s journey from idea to market can be challenging and complicated—but also rewarding. Our Innovator Spotlight series explores how inventor-entrepreneurs in our network have evolved since they started their journey. Our goal is to share key learnings and best practices with early-stage science and technology inventors embarking on a path of innovation and entrepreneurship. Our latest Innovator Spotlight is Clay Andrews, co-founder of E-Team, HALE (formerly Nareware). The team developed a discreet wearable that opens the nose to ease breathing and enhance sleep, fitness, and daily life.
What challenge did you seek to solve with your innovation and why?
For around 15% of the population, nasal obstruction, such as a deviated septum or nasal valve collapse, permanently restricts airflow. This is detrimental to their quality of life, as it leads to snoring and reduced endurance. I’ve personally dealt with nasal obstruction my whole life, so this is a personal mission for me.
What have you learned along your innovation and entrepreneurship journey?
I’ve learned to stop over-thinking and just get things done. You can tinker with the product and map out your business model forever, but at a certain point, you need to take a leap of faith and put something out there for feedback. You may uncover a thousand problems, but battle-testing your idea is the only way to know what problems you need to solve.
Tell us how you’ve integrated environmentally responsible practices into your innovation or process?
Our product can reduce the number of surgeries people need, which carries a massive environmental footprint. Our breathing aids and accessories are built to last; they won’t wind up in the landfill right away. We’re also choosing recyclables when possible.
How has support from VentureWell impacted your innovation and venture?
We had a very specific view of the problem we are aiming to solve, and it didn’t resonate with many people. We needed that encouragement from VentureWell to talk to many different stakeholders and workshop every aspect of our business model. I’m confident HALE could not exist today without VentureWell pushing us to ask tough questions about our business, get the answers, and pivot when necessary.
What’s next for you?
We’re wrapping up our clinical trial at Johns Hopkins and getting into some non-clinical beta testing to source feedback from more HALE users in the field. That may lead to some final design improvements, after which we’ll cut our production molds and start selling. In the meantime, we’re having a bit of fun on Instagram and our new nose-centric blog, Schnozmopolitan, as part of our pre-launch marketing.
Learn more about the E-Team grant program here.