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The CEO Creating ‘Joy Ventures’ in the Well-Being Space

Her company supports, funds and builds science-backed consumer products in the well-being space.
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September 22, 2020

With a neuroscientist mother and tech entrepreneur father, Miri Polachek grew up in a home where Nobel laureates were the ultimate celebrities. Years later, when Polachek found herself in the late President Shimon Peres’ Jerusalem residence, she asked him if he would pose with her for a picture alongside his Nobel Peace Prize medal.

Peres was the visionary who inspired the now-defunct Israel Brain Technologies, the nonprofit that worked to establish Israel as a hub for brain-related innovations. Polachek was the founding director.

Polachek spent the first half of her career working in finance for large corporations in the United States. After moving to Israel, she switched to the entrepreneurial domain. She said the entrepreneurial mindset captures her imagination and inspires her, adding that it is the lifeblood of the startup ecosystem.

Today, Polachek is the CEO of Joy Ventures, a company that supports, funds and builds science-backed consumer products in the well-being space, or in her words, “that help people manage their daily lives more joyfully.

“It’s a different kind of space to operate in,” Polachek said. “You really need to take a fresh look all the time at consumer trends, at what people’s pains are and understand the different demographics.”

Emotional well-being has become de rigueur in tech, with apps like Calm and Headspace flooding the booming mindfulness market. The advent of COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on people’s mental health, and the companies that Joy Ventures supports aim to help people get through this period of heightened stress.

“You really need to take a fresh look all the time at consumer trends, at what people’s pains are and understand the different demographics.”

Empathic Technologies’ so-called “Doppel” is worn on the wrist and creates a silent vibration that mimics a heartbeat to either reduce stress or increase alertness. Sanga’s unique meditation program features human coaches to help people achieve a stable meditation practice. The Vi Trainer app is a conversational fitness coach that uses GPS and phone movements to monitor progress.

The challenge, Polachek said, is creating a product that is fun, appealing and marketable, while using technology that can have a meaningful impact on how people feel. One product Polachek said has achieved this balance is Reflect, which currently is in a pilot program in the U.S. A portable, interactive “soft and fuzzy” globe created by a textile designer turned tech entrepreneur, Reflect uses biofeedback to monitor and improve its user’s mood.

One of the perks of working in the consumer space, Polachek said, is that she and her staff get to be the guinea pigs. On several occasions, she’s even brought the products home for her three teenagers to try.

“It brings awareness to them of how important it is to be aware of our emotions, to manage them and to develop resilience to stress and uncertainty — skills that are not always taught at home and school,” she said. Polachek added that her children love to cuddle and take a moment to relax with the Reflect ball.

“It’s actually so natural when you talk to kids about it,” she said, “that it’s sort of an aha moment, that there should be more products they can use to help them develop those skills.”

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