Start: Q&A with BrainChild Technologies’ Carly Kiselycznyk, PhD

Bend, Ore. – September 9, 2019: Meet Carly Kiselycznyk, Ph.D., co-founder of BrianChild Technologies. Throughout Carly’s career, she has been focused on taking innovations from neuroscience to help improve the quality of everyday life. She’s trained as a scientist but has worked hard to gain interdisciplinary experiences in business, intellectual property, and government grants management. Before Carly’s work with BrainChild Technologies, she researched the behavioral and pharmacological interventions that influence mental health and resiliency. This academic experience led her to a career with the Department of Defense where she served as a scientific advisor for government-funded research on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Hear more about Carly Kiselycznyk, BrainChild Technologies and their relationship with EDCO:

EDCO: Tell us about your business background

CK: BrianChild Technologies was formed by academic neuroscientists who met while studying at the National Institutes of Health. We had the idea to create consumer versions of research tools used to study infants so everyday parents could track their own baby’s neurodevelopment. Our business and startup experience began when we were selected for the NeuroLaunch Startup Accelerator that focused on bringing innovations in neuroscience to the market. Since then, we have grown from academic researchers to startup founders through our experiences at NeuroLaunch, FoundersPad, and Promise Studio’s Early Futures program for innovators in early childhood. These experiences have helped us identify critical value propositions for caregivers and providers working with hearing loss in infants that will lead to new market opportunities in consumer digital health. We have since successfully gained two SBIR grants for our work from both the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

EDCO: What inspired you to start this business?

CK: BrainChild Technologies was formed when one of our co-founders was expecting her first baby. As neuroscientists, we, of course, had tons of questions about this exciting time in brain development. We knew about the tricks researchers in baby labs use to better track an infant’s cognitive and language milestones and wanted to give everyday parents the same tools. We started with a smart pacifier that recreates the High Amplitude Sucking paradigm, where researchers wire up a pacifier to measure how infants change their sucking behavior when they’re interested in images or sounds. Our goal was to provide parents a new way to have back-and-forth interaction with their infant, while also helping them recognize issues such as hearing loss so they can pursue interventions early when they are most effective.

EDCO: Why did you choose to start your business in Central Oregon? What’s different about the Central Oregon business community than other communities? How has this community helped you to thrive?

After receiving funding to work on the company full-time, I had the opportunity to move anywhere in the country to start growing our team. I was looking for a startup culture with easy access to the outdoors and had always loved the Northwest. While visiting Seattle and Portland, I decided to stop by Bend and was immediately impressed with the startup community. Just after one or two visits at local co-working spaces, I had 10-15 warm introductions to others in the community and people were happy to make time to meet during my short visit. Since moving here, everyone has been more than happy to meet for a quick chat over coffee and suggest more resources or introductions. It’s great to be in a smaller, tight-knit community where you can be sitting and having coffee with one person and the connection they’ve just mentioned happens to walk in the door a few minutes later.

EDCO: How did it feel to win the Cambia Grove Trails Competition? What do you hope to accomplish with this win?

Winning the Cambia Grove TRAILS competition was a great validation of our pivot to focus on hearing screening in infants, especially coming from judges with expertise in pediatric concerns from 3 leading children’s hospitals. The competition provides us with the opportunity to be embedded in 3 children’s hospitals for a week of shadowing providers. Being able to observe our future users and customers in their work environment is a great opportunity while conducting customer discovery. These visits will help us ensure that we not only create improved solutions for hearing loss screening but that it also fits into the workflow and day-to-day realities of our future users.

EDCO: What projects are you currently working on? 

CK: Right now, I am continuing my work on pilot testing our hearing screening platforms for infants as part of our NIH SBIR grant. I will be finishing up some of our software development and then looking for some parents and baby scientists who are interested in participating in our research studies. As part of our IRB-approved study, I am looking for families who are interested in participating in a one-hour session in their home where the infant tries out our smart pacifier while listening to different sounds.

EDCO: What is Your Best Word of Advice to the Entrepreneur Community.

CK: Learn to recognize how much you, and even the experts, still don’t know about a topic. Realizing how much of our standard way of doing things was based on our limited information at the time is a great way to start identifying areas ripe for innovation.

EDCO: How did you hear about EDCO and why did you choose to engage with the organization? Did EDCO help you and your business? If so, how?

CK: I learned about EDCO when I first passed through on a visit to Bend. They were one of the first introductions recommended to me and have been a great resource along the way. The PubTalks have been a great way to start getting to know the entrepreneurial community, and the staff at EDCO was instrumental in introducing me to multiple leaders in the health care space in Bend, both in medical device and digital health development, as well as health policy. The connections to health care leaders in the community have helped us identify new business opportunities unique to Oregon and Bend, including programs for infants from the local NICU, and new legislation for home visiting and health screening services for all parents with new infants.

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