Ellie Gordon is among the few female entrepreneurs, especially in the health technology space. Only 2% of venture capital investments are allocated to female entrepreneurs despite 42% of businesses being owned by women. Ellie is no stranger to the challenges female entrepreneurs face. She talks about her journey with Behaivior in the following post.
What inspired you to start Behaivior? What made you passionate about supporting individuals pursuing or in recovery for mental health or addiction?
Behaivior is headquartered in Pittsburgh, an area particularly hard-hit by the opioid epidemic. Behaivior was founded in January 2017 as part of the IBM Watson AI XPrize Hackathon, of which we were one of the winners. The hackathon team included a criminal defense attorney in West Virginia who had witnessed many clients pass away from heroin-related overdoses. Noticing that many clients were already wearing monitoring devices for other substance misuse conditions like alcoholism, the idea was born to develop a monitoring device that could prevent needless deaths from the rampant opioid use prevalent in the criminal justice system and beyond. Utilizing my design skills and passion for social good and evidence-based strategies like behavioral economics, I founded Behaivior shortly after the hackathon and have been spearheading its growth ever since. I have had loved ones die from or suffer due to addiction and other mental health challenges, and I struggled with substance misuse as a teen, further driving my passion for solving this issue.
Why did you choose to create a product that uses AI? How did this technology bring something to the industry that hadn’t been seen before?
With a clear picture, it is easier for healthcare providers to offer personalized care that is urgently needed and for the person to manage their disease or disorder better. This is particularly challenging with mental health, including substance use and addiction, where complex internal and external factors contribute significantly to how individuals are faring. AI can augment our ability to perceive, analyze, and respond with greater speed, accuracy, and pattern detection, enabling us to improve care efficacy and outcomes without additional time and effort on the individuals providing care. Artificial intelligence takes all of the puzzle piece inputs and helps piece them together to give the output, a clearer picture that can tell us what’s going on and help direct the response.
For example, Behaivior’s proprietary Recovery™ platform utilizes AI, behavioral health technology, and wearables to predict and prevent return to use for individuals in or pursuing recovery from a substance use disorder. Utilizing wearable devices and pattern-recognition machine learning algorithms, Recovery™ streams real-time data to care providers and screens individuals for physiological and behavioral warning signs that they are at increased risk for use or return to use, which enables the opportunity for immediate intervention and support.
What are some struggles you have faced as a female entrepreneur? In the United States, female entrepreneurs not only face bias, discrimination, and threats, but we are also now having to contend with the forced inability to have control over our bodies in many states across the country, not to mention other losses of safety, security, and access to healthcare that have been imposed on us. Female entrepreneurs in other minority groups as well, such as myself, face additional barriers and risks. I have found that in order to succeed, we have to have the grit, passion, and strength to knock down or file down the barriers to squeeze through. Male entrepreneurs are significantly less likely to face this to the same extent. We have to be 10x better or accomplished to access the same opportunities. When you hear, see, or experience examples of those occurrences, it’s mind-boggling. Furthermore, when female entrepreneurs have less access to resources, opportunities, and means to accommodate societal factors out of our control (biological reproduction, for example), that further compounds the issue. I have experienced all of the above and more.
What are your goals with Behaivior? What impact do you want Behaivior to have? Our mission at Behaivior is to help individuals live better lives by providing equitably accessible mental health and addiction recovery support. While we have a plethora of goals, our primary goal at this time is to broaden and expedite deployments of Recovery™. We can’t put a dollar value on human life, so with the support of others, the Behaivior team can further advance our vision of scaling our solution and positively impacting millions of lives. Within a few years, we endeavor to be the leading addiction and mental health recovery support platform, positively impacting at least millions of lives via our partner networks across academia, employers, care providers, insurers, governments, and health systems.
In 10 words or less, what’s one thing you want people to know about Behaivior?
With additional resources, Behaivior can positively impact millions of lives.
Contributors: Vishva Iyer, Behaivior
Silano, Sara. “Women Founders Get 2% of Venture Capital Funding in U.S.” Morningstar, Inc., 6 Mar. 2023, www.morningstar.com/alternative-investments/women-founders-get-2-venture-capital-funding-us.