“For me, this is not just an opportunity to flesh out a business venture,” says graduating senior Daniel Couser. “I’m working to really find a solution to a problem that I’ve seen so many people struggle with.”
The problem: Anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older. Couser, an entrepreneurship and innovation management major, is currently developing a device that has the potential to provide relief for 18.1% of the population every year.
“A friend I grew up with had terrible anxiety. It was then that I realized what an interruption this disorder can be in someone’s life—the physical manifestations, the emotional toll,” he says. “I found that there weren’t really options on the market to combat anxiety other than medication and breathing techniques.”
Couser is the CEO and founder of Kovarvic LLC, a medical technology company that designs tools to manage cognitive disorders like anxiety. The company’s flagship product is CALM, a handheld device that uses a series of vibrations to relieve anxiety. After learning about research that explored the potential of using vibrations, electrotherapy or light can stimulate the brain to thwart fight-or-flight impulses.
Over the course of about 18 months, Couser began working with business advisors, medical technology companies and a consumer device company to discuss the feasibility of his new idea. He also partnered with the Blackstone LaunchPad at Temple, an organization that helps students get their inventions and companies off the ground, and CALM began to take shape.
Then, in 2018, his pitch for CALM won the undergraduate track of the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, an annual business-plan competition hosted at the Fox School of Business. The process of working with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was tremendously helpful for Couser. He explains that the IEI team helped him deconstruct his ideas to build them up bigger and better, and exposed him to a vast and lively entrepreneurial network.
“On top of the prize money, it added credibility to my company and help to legitimize my idea,” he says.
After graduation, Couser will work on Kovarvic LLC and CALM full-time. The team is in the middle of a clinical trial for CALM, and he is continuing to research and beta test the technical as well as the usability of the product.
“I plan to continue the long, full, rewarding days building out CALM,” says Couser.