Lessons in Launching A Startup: Royan Kamyar, M.D.
Described as the "world's first wellness planner," Owaves has quickly become the go-to visual experience for wellness planning. Founded by Rady '10 alum Royan Kamyar, M.D., MBA, Owaves was formulated with Dr. Kamyar's medical and business expertise in hand in order to create a holistic digital experience that promotes a healthy lifestyle. The Owaves software helps users plan what experts call the five main ingredients for a long and healthy life: sleep, nutrition, exercise, relaxation, love and social life using a simple infographic wheel chart. Kamyar has taken the first step in launching software that aims to better many lives, from sunrise to sunset.
What was your inspiration for Owaves?
During my medical internship in New York, we worked 80-hour workweeks with virtually no time to sleep, eat, let alone exercise. Once I began my MBA at Rady, I made a commitment to myself to take what I've learned seriously and to respect my own health by using what I was taught in medical school about eating well, sleeping well and exercising to live a long, healthy life. I didn't want to be in a hypocritical standpoint either as a physician or working in healthcare trying to help people get healthy but not taking care of myself. I wanted to be successful, productive and work hard, but I didn't want to sacrifice my health to get there. I essentially then came up with a new way to plan my day which was very visual. At a certain point, the light bulb went off and I realized that this would be very helpful for other people too.
How did you fund the initial development?
After I graduated, I did some consulting in the digital healthcare space, and eventually co-founded a company where I did receive a salary while living at my parent's house. I tried to limit my expenses, save up as much money as I could, and fine tune my experience in the startup world by working for a couple of years; when I felt I had enough in the bank to run with, I did that. I wanted to self-fund so I could get some runway room behind me. I've been using that to fuel myself this far. We are now reaching out to angel investors.
What activities have been most instrumental for building awareness for Owaves?
On day of launch, we were fortunate enough to be covered by large news outlets such as Reuters, New York Times, NBC News, CBS News, Fox News, to name a few. I think the best terms to describe awareness of the product would be "earned press" or "earned media" with regards to the press coverage we received on being the "world's first wellness planner." It appealed to a timely topic about the growing healthcare concerns in the nation, especially due to economic impact, as well as newfound emphasis on prevention and wellness by government, corporations and healthcare systems. Owaves is also a new approach to quantified self-space, which is a popular and growing category and the blog and social media coverage we have received through outlets such as Reddit, Instagram and Twitter have created a positive discourse around the product.
What is the long term vision for the company and product?
The way we see it, our culture is hungry for wellness, fitness and wholesome lifestyle related brands. I think that's contributed to the success of companies like Whole Foods, Lululemon and Nike, amongst others. We aim to be this new, up and coming, eventually long-term symbol for a healthy, holistic positive lifestyle. In terms of how that reflects on our product, right now we have our software out and the plan is to integrate with wearable devices and smart watches. What we're trying to do is create a personalized, health-based perspective of time—leveraging the evolutionary marriage between biology and the clock. There's a huge growing category of science called chronobiology that we're taking advantage of and basing our software and algorithm on this science by essentially marrying wellness with time.
What advice do you have for an entrepreneur with a first time business idea?
You have to love it. You have to be able to see yourself waking up four to five years from now still working on that project. When it's something you're passionate about and feel like it's the work you can't not do—then you've found the right idea. I wouldn't give up; keep looking for that one idea that you fall into so deeply that you know it's what you're meant to be doing.