News & Events

“Nipping Anxiety in the Bud” is a Family Affair for a Local Mother and Son

TECHCELERATOR@STATE COLLEGE, – Judy and Kadin Karaky know a thing or two about anxiety.  “Anxiety has always been present in my life and the lives of the people I care about – even our dog gets anxious”, commented Judy Karaky, a Penn State graduate with a degree in Elementary Education.  “Over the years, I’ve tried different approaches to managing my stress such as focused breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques without much success.  Even yoga and meditation didn’t help, because clearing my mind of all the chatter was futile”, said Mrs. Karaky.

When Judy’s son, Kadin, a seventh grader at Park Forest Middle School, started experiencing anxiety attacks, she found that traditional breathing exercises were not effective for him either.  Kadin commented, “It’s hard to keep your mind focused on the exercises rather than what you are stressed about in the first place.” Together, they started brainstorming solutions and came up with the idea for a product that would improve the outcomes of breathing exercises for anyone – but especially children and young adults.

The Belly Buddy, a comforting animal figure that rests on your stomach during the breathing exercises, comes with an embedded accelerometer, the movement of which causes a sequence of vertical lights to shine based on the rise and fall of your belly.  When you are inhaling and exhaling properly, the lights, which are accompanied by a two-speed rhythmic sound, go completely to the top indicating successful deep breathing.

Judy and Kadin are exploring their business concept as part of the spring cohort at Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator@StateCollege – a program located in Innovation Park which has helped launch more than 100 startups in Central PA.  Judy saw the notice about the 10-Week Business Startup Boot Camp in Ben Franklin’s newsletter and called the Program Manager, Bob Dornich, to inquire if there was a seat available.  Bob said, “We’ve never had a mother and son team before – much less a seventh grader!  But, there’s no age requirement on budding innovators, and we are excited to hear their graduation “pitch” on May 21, 2019.”

Now getting ready to enter the third week, both Judy and Kadin, commented, “We’ve just finished the second class and most of the content is new to us.  We’re learning about value propositions, customer discovery, and how to make an effective pitch for funding – but we’ve also gained some new ideas on how to improve our product.  By the end of the class, we hope to determine if there is a viable market for our product and map out a blue print for next steps. Once that’s done, we’ll both be breathing easier.”