This startup wants to help children with ADHD learn the skills they need to thrive

by April Bohnert
February 27, 2018
Goally behavioral science tech startup Colorado
Photo courtesy of Goally.

Three years ago, Sasi Movva encountered a challenge that millions of Americans face: how to help his child with ADHD develop into a happy, productive and independent human being. He’d tried the sticker charts and the tracking apps, but when it came to building sustainable routines and managing day-to-day tasks, nothing worked.

So, being an accomplished engineer and tinkerer, Movva decided to build a device that could help guide his son through his daily routines. It worked, and after talking with other parents and therapists, he realized it just might work for other families, too.

Movva enlisted the help of two other engineering friends and, a few months later, Goally was born.

Goally is a smart clock that helps children with developmental disabilities like ADHD, autism and down syndrome develop the critical executive functioning skills they need to grow into thriving adolescents and adults.

For children living with ADHD, everyday tasks like brushing teeth, making the bed and completing homework can be a struggle. For the parents having to hold their kids accountable for those tasks, life can feel like an endless cycle of nagging and stress.

Those executive functioning skills — which help us self-regulate, manage time, remember details, plan, organize and generally be successful in life — are often weaker in those suffering from a developmental disorder. Without taking steps to help children build those skills, they’ll continue to struggle through their entire adult life.

If you’re a child with ADHD in America today and you don’t get any treatment, you have a five percent chance of graduating from college.”

“If you’re a child with ADHD in America today and you don’t get any treatment, you have a five percent chance of graduating from college,” said Daragh Brangan, co-founder and CMO at Goally. “Medications are out there, but they don’t actually help a child develop executive functioning skills in the long term. They just mask the symptoms.”

 

Goally behavioral science tech startup Colorado
Photo courtesy of Goally.

More than just a piece of hardware, Goally helps bridge the gap between behavioral science techniques and the parents who are tasked with implementing them.

“If you ask any behavioral therapist, the biggest problem they have is that parents don’t follow through on what the therapist asks them to do,” Brangan said. “They get sent home with a piece of paper and a checklist, and they’re supposed to track all these points and rewards. It’s just not realistic. Even the very best parents aren’t able to keep up with all that. We take the science and we’re putting it into a delivery mechanism that’s easy for parents to manage.”

[Parents] get sent home with a piece of paper and a checklist, and they’re supposed to track all these points and rewards. It’s just not realistic.”

Above all, Brangan says Goally’s mission is to help children reach their full potential and to remove the negative emotions that emerge when parents have to nag their kids to do specific tasks. 

To do so, the startup partners closely with the medical community, including the Colorado Children’s Hospital, the University of Colorado and a robust advisory board of therapists, psychologists and behavioral neurologists. Together, they’re building a device that can provide the guidance and coaching that both parents and children need to be successful.

When a family receives a Goally device, they’re immediately prompted to set up a consultation with one of the company’s trained behavioral therapy professionals. Together, they discuss how to set up goals and rewards and come up with a sustainable progression plan that grows along with the child.

From there, the child uses the device to check off items on their daily to-dos and earn rewards in the process. Over time, the goals and rewards change to help the child understand the value of both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.

Goally is currently three weeks into the Techstars Boulder accelerator program and is finalizing its manufacturing plans in preparation for the official launch of its product in the fall. The team is also focused on fundraising and honing the product with the help of the Boulder community.

“We’ve gotten a ton of support both in the Boulder startup community and the medical community,” Brangan said. “It’s been unbelievable how people have been so generous and willing to give us their time for no reason other than they want to help.”

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