First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jeff Coleman: We are doing fine. We are lucky that both my wife and I can work remotely. Our teenage boys go to an independent study school where the transition has not been too significant. One of the nice changes is that we spend more time together as a family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded BrainLeap Technologies
Jeff Coleman: While I had a successful marketing consulting firm for 12 years, the results of my co-founders’ initial studies were what drew me into the business. Both of my co-founders are researchers at UC San Diego (and one is my wife of 27 years). It was clear that the attention-training games they created could have a big impact. They did not want to run a business, so we agreed to start a business with me as the CEO. While it has been a rollercoaster, hearing the results that our users have is what keeps me motivated.
How does BrainLeap Technologies innovate?
Jeff Coleman: Our innovations are based on scientific research. To be honest, more ideas are coming out of my co-founders’ lab than I can keep up with. We focus on where we can add value to our current target market. However, we are also looking at potential new markets.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jeff Coleman: With most schools in distance learning mode or trying to figure out how to open safely, we have had to pivot away from selling to schools (for now). While we always intended to pursue the consumer market, we are doing it much sooner than expected.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jeff Coleman: Luckily, we have not had to make any hard choices in terms of staffing. We have been able to keep our whole team and even add a new team member during the past five months. This is because our primary funding comes from a National Science Foundation grant, and we have gotten additional angel investment.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and BrainLeap Technologies in the future?
Jeff Coleman: I meditate every morning. This allows me to be present throughout the day and minimize stress. However, it never leaves me that there are plenty of ways that things can go wrong for a startup and only a few ways that it can go right. So, I set my goals based on what is most likely to move us in the right direction and do what I can to mitigate risks.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jeff Coleman: Our main competitors are ADHD medication and doing nothing. No one is a direct competitor, but that also means that we need to work hard to stay on people’s radar. We are working very hard right now to figure out how to be relevant to families that have kids with attention challenges. Recent news coverage has been great, but it has not translated into significant sales. We need to figure out the sales process to be able to stay in the game.
Your final thoughts
Jeff Coleman: While the coronavirus has certainly been a challenge, it is also an opportunity to really focus on what matters. As a company, I am not sure we need an office. Working remotely has worked for us. Shifting to the consumer market is likely to work. One of the advantages of being a startup is flexibility, and no time in the recent past has required more flexibility than now.