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Where are they now? Q&A with Minnedemo alumn Aneela Kumar of HabitAware

We are excited to continue highlighting our extraordinary community through a series we are calling “Where are they now?” In it, we get a chance to check in with previous Minnedemo and Minnebar presenters, learn more about their story, their Minnestar experience, and what makes our community great. This week, we are very excited to sit down with Aneela Kumar.

Aneela Kumar is one busy and talented techie. A budding entrepreneur, you may remember her from her Minnedemo20 presentation of Kid Around Town, a mobile app to help families explore their world and capture their memories. Or perhaps you remember her for being the inspiration behind HabitAware, which her husband, Sameer Kumar presented at Minnedemo23. HabitAware makes a smart bracelet that helps people become aware of debilitating behaviors so they can affect positive change. The company is a HAX hardware accelerator alumnus and was nominated for a MinneInno 50 on Fire award in early 2018. We had the opportunity to catch up with Aneela, and hear what she has been up to, and what she hopes is in store in 2018.

What was your experience like entering the tech scene and presenting at Minnedemo?

As a transplant to Minneapolis, I was quickly welcomed into the tech / startup scene. Through tech.mn I learned about Minnestar and it’s two signature events – Minnedemo + Minnebar. I presented Kid Around at Minnedemo20. I love attending events because of the serendipty around them — you never know who you will meet & hit it off with!

In fact, after that Minnedemo presentation, I received a LinkedIn invite from Sue Perpich. As a non-Minneapolitan, I did not recognize the last name. But that never stops me, I was intrigued by her note to me & asked to meet her for coffee. Sue and I hit it off and became friends very quickly. She has an incredible background in sales / tech / investments etc. and is in now in business development & advisorship for a San Francisco-based VC. This is what I love about our Minneapolis tech community – we help each other out by sharing knowledge & networks. Sue connected us to Steve LeBeau, then Editor at Minnesota Business, which led to HabitAware’s inclusion in their mental health tech feature (http://minnesotabusiness.com/therapist-your-pocket), as well as Sameer’s selection as a Young Entrepreneur & our nomination as a “Mental Health Innovator.” She’s been an avid supporter of mine & HabitAware’s since Day 1 & that connection would not have been made if not for MinneDemo!

Why do you support Minnestar?

Minnestar is an accessible organization, led by dedicated members of the community. There are a ton of events and groups in the Twin Cities, but what sets Minnestar apart is its ability to equitably highlight the ingenuity, creativity and expertise of both serious entrepreneurs and casual makers/hackers. I’m proud to support Minnestar, as they have supported me in my entrepreneurial journey by providing a chance to demo – twice, as well as lead events at Minnebar. Through Minnestar events I’ve connected with incredible people – some of whom I’ve been able to help and some of whom have helped me. This is the beauty of the Twin Cities scene, including the Minnestar cohort: its never-ending desire to lift others up with the understanding that it can only benefit the entire community.

What is next for you?

My personal mission is to see an end to the stigma around the mental health disorders that HabitAware helps manage. To that end, I’m joining forces with Laurie Healy (Fueled Collective) & Patrick Parker, LMFT to bring “MNtalHealth” discussions to the tech+entrepreneurial scene here. My hope is to start with our community and join the growing movement to mental health parity.

Did you miss their demo in at Minnedemo25? Not to worry – check it out here (video courtesy of tech.mn):