Podcast Episode 5 Recap: Ellie Gordon of Behaivior

Ellie Gordon, CEO and Co-founder of Behaivior, was inspired to create her company by a growing problem in American today: the opioid epidemic. 

Our latest guest on Scalefactor’s What’s the Factor? podcast sat down to chat with us during SXSW 2019.  She hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city that’s been hard-hit by opioid addiction.  

Ellie is a UX/UI designer by trade, and her network in Pittsburgh has been directly impacted by opioids.  The first time she was directly confronted with opioid addiction was the passing of a close friend’s best friend.  She began looking into the opioid crisis and learning more about it.

Roughly 800,000 people have died from opioid overdoses, according to Ellie, and those numbers continue to rise.  Relapse rates for heroin users are an overwhelming 90%. As Ellie continued to dive deeper into the data, she found increasing instances of opioid abuse in people she talked to—though many were reluctant to talk to her.

She encountered the same emotion in many of these conversations: hopelessness.  The families of opioid addicts inspired her to find a solution that would help bring some hope to quite a hopeless situation.

Enter Behaivior, the AI-enabled Wearable Tech That Helps Prevent Opioid Addiction Relapses 

Ellie’s idea for Behaivior came to fruition through her participation in a hackathon, where she gained entrance (and won) to the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE competition. Behaivior’s wearable technology helps recovering opioid addicts by wearing multiple hats: one part doctor, one part therapist, and one part social support network.  

The wearable monitors a user’s physiology by monitoring things like sleep patterns, stress levels, and nicotine usage.  It allows users to configure customizable messages that will motivate them to stay off opioids—ahead of time, when they’re not in the middle of a craving.  And, it connects users with their selected friends and family, so their network can reach out and try to help before a relapse occurs.

Take Bob, for instance.  He recently finished a 28-day stay in an inpatient facility.  A few weeks after leaving the facility, his father passes away.  All of sudden, Bob’s sleeping patterns are erratic. He’s increased his smoking habit, skipping his support group, and feeling very jittery.

Bob is thinking about using again.  With the Behaivior wearable, Bob receives a pre-selected message that includes a photo of his daughter and a note that says “I don’t want to lose you.  I love you, Dad!” His 12-step sponsor and his mother are notified based on the wearable data and give Bob a call to check in.  

Behaivior Gives Recovering Opioid Addicts (And Everyone Around Them) a Proactive Plan For Recovery

Ellie and her team have designed Behaivior as a customizable, proactive tool for managing opioid recovery.  Let’s return to Bob: before he starts out on his own, he can decide on the types of interventions that will work best for him.  Maybe instead of a picture of his daughter, Bob would prefer to see a picture of himself at rock-bottom as a motivator. Or even a song that really pulls at his heartstrings.  

Bob can also add people to his support network to check in with him when his physiological factors are going in the wrong direction.  And he can set Behaivior so it shows certain information to his partner, and other information to his clinician.

Passion For a Compelling Problem Can Drive Success

We always ask podcast guests “What’s the factor for your success?” But this one is really a no-brainer.  Ellie is clearly passionate about her company and its efforts to support thousands of families in recovery of the opioid crisis.  

Being a startup founder is hard work, and she’s encountered many challenges along the way. But waking up every day knowing that she’s laser-focused on a problem that impacts so many drives her success.

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