Tell us about HomeoLux.
Irina Tanenbaum: HomeoLux® is a health and technology company that designs wellness products based on cutting-edge scientific research. Our flagship product, BEACON40®, is a safe, non-invasive light system designed to help rejuvenate brain health and improve mental acuity, memory, and attention.
BEACON40 light systems deliver 40Hz light therapy that is nurturing and accessible, bringing hope and help to families battling Alzheimer’s disease and those seeking to prevent cognitive decline.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Irina Tanenbaum: Thank you for asking. We are doing well. Like so many entrepreneurs who are also mothers, I am balancing the responsibilities of running a business, raising children, caring for my parents, and trying to look graceful while I do it. Sometimes I can pull it off, but most of the time, I look to and am grateful for the support of my husband and business partners who help me stay productive and focused. This is a difficult time for everyone. It’s particularly challenging to be distanced from older family members who are at high risk for COVID-19. We spend a lot of time carefully staying connected with my parents, who luckily live nearby. I know it’s not as easy for others whose parents are in different states or are in elder care facilities.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded HomeoLux.
Irina Tanenbaum: I spent 15 years of my career leading investment research and due diligence for institutional investors. Then, I joined an investment research team at a FinTech startup called Artivest. I was thrilled to finally make it to the “other side.” Working there confirmed my love for startups, and I decided that I would rather not go back to the world of investments. Why analyze a company when you can build one?
While I enjoyed analyzing all types of investments, venture capital was my favorite asset class. It provided a rare opportunity to see innovations long before they were available to the general public. For example, I had a chance to ride a Segway years before it was on the market. I felt propelled into entrepreneurship and founded my own consulting firm cultivating growth for seed-stage companies.
Late 2017, I was introduced to a thought leader and innovator, Terry Moore, who was focused on a passion project. Terry’s wife had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and he was determined to do everything possible to help her and the millions of families facing this devastating diagnosis. After doing his own exploration into emerging medical research, he developed a prototype of safe, non-invasive light therapy and started using it at home. After experiencing positive results and at the encouragement of his wife’s medical team, he decided to establish a business to develop the lights. Terry was looking for an operating partner to build a health technology company targeting the growing aging population. We hit it off immediately, and in January 2018, HomeoLux was officially launched.
How does HomeoLux innovate?
Irina Tanenbaum: Our innovation philosophy is pretty simple. We fast-track scientific research to create wellness products and applications for families who need solutions now. Our primary focus is on families battling cognitive decline, and we also serve the aging population that is focused on at-home healthcare and personal wellness routines.
Sometimes investors ask me, “So you take proven scientific research, and turn it into consumer products?” Yes, that’s what we do. It’s kind of like furniture designers. If someone makes a beautiful stand-up desk that I can put into my home office, and it makes my back feel great. I’m happy. I don’t care if the desk designer is a chiropractor or an orthopedist. I just need to know that the desk is elegant and that it’s been carefully informed by the research of those medical practitioners. It makes sense.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Irina Tanenbaum: When everything first shut down, and everyone on the team was dispersed in their homes in different cities and states, it felt really odd. Then, we started settling into our normal business routines. Everybody still works remotely using a shared drive. Everyone is very efficient, and I trust the team to be independent. Like everyone, we rely on quick, efficient stand-ups and have become really productive at collaborating remotely. We launched our first product only 3 months before the start of the pandemic and first lockdown. It’s amazing that we have built consistent momentum and realized steady growth month over month.
I mentioned our focus on the aging population, which is known as the Silver Tsunami. The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on that demographic. It has accelerated tech purchases and adoptions among the older generations who are focused on home-health solutions and on expanding cognitive ability and wellness. That’s exactly the audience we’re talking to. We want to bring safe, easy-to-use brain health routines to anyone hoping to prevent cognitive decline and those who are battling Alzheimer’s disease.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Irina Tanenbaum: The leadership team at HomeoLux includes my partners Wendy Bronfin and Veronica Price. We are all entrepreneurs, mothers, and daughters. Alzheimer’s disease personally touches everyone on the HomeoLux team. Alzheimer’s is another global pandemic affecting more than 5.8 million people in the U.S. Sixteen million people are providing care for loved ones battling cognitive decline. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic came into view, we had to make decisions about exposing ourselves and our loved ones to any additional risk. That meant a serious plan to balance office safety and distance with our drive to grow the business.
One tough decision we had to make was to pause our institutional sales activities. We were beginning to build inroads to partnerships with memory centers and elder care facilities. Knowing the extreme pressures there, we shifted focus to building an information campaign for Alzheimer’s caregivers who need to provide continued, lasting love and care from a distance. We also dedicated a portion of our sales to important causes like New York-based CaringKind and the National Alzheimer’s Association.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Irina Tanenbaum: I have two ways of dealing with stress – my 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. Sitting down for 15 min to play chess with my daughter or read a book with my son is as effective for me as long meditation is for others.
I also enjoy hiking, art, and classical music.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Irina Tanenbaum: Given the tremendous market size and the pressing need for a solution to Alzheimer’s disease and alternative therapies for cognitive decline, the competitive landscape is unusually barren. There are other light therapy devices in the market that are scientifically sound. However, they are awkward, invasive, and expensive. HomeoLux stands alone as a safe, non-invasive solution that fits easily into any home or office. You can learn more about our product at Homeolux.com/pages/
Your final thoughts?
Irina Tanenbaum: I am optimistic about battling pandemics right now. Just this week, we’ve learned that there are 3 promising vaccines for COVID 19 and, while there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, I believe the best chance to beat it is prevention. Today, the Silver Tsunami demographic is exploring brain health from new directions. They are adopting healthy habits and new technologies to boost their physical and mental health. We all want to be safe, healthy, and age with independence and grace. I’m grateful for the emerging research and health technology that is enabling us to move forward.