Niura | Takeaways from the NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge

Team: Shahriar Huda (Tandon ‘25), Ryan Ahmed, Pari Patel, Steffani Rajapaksha (Tandon ‘27)

About the Venture: Niura is creating focus-sensing earbuds to help students and professionals with their focus and productivity during high stakes time crunches.

The NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge has not only given us an abundance of opportunities for Niura to take advantage of but has opened our eyes to some of the overlooked elements of running a successful venture. The program’s comprehensive workshops taught us the importance of branding ourselves, our market positioning, the essentials of building a financial model, and so much more. With these lessons in hand, we are better equipped to tackle the journey ahead with Niura.

A Learning Curve Fueled by the Entrepreneurs Challenge

By far, our best moment during the competition has been the Venture Showcase, where the broader NYU community got to show support for emerging ventures coming out of the University. There, we saw just how vibrant NYU’s entrepreneurial community is, with people from diverse backgrounds bringing together ideas and passions that span across various industries and disciplines. During the showcase, Niura got the chance to talk to fellow entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to discuss the present application of the technology we’re working on along with our future aspirations to expand the use of EEGs in other industries, such as the biomedical industry. We had the opportunity to show the 3D model prototype of our earbuds and get user insight, allowing us to take the feedback and iterate the design.

Overcoming Challenges: A Pivot to Success

Niura’s greatest challenge so far has been pivoting our business model from a licensing model to a direct-to-consumer model. Through Berkeley’s programming and coaching, we learned to take into deeper consideration customer needs and to identify our user’s hair-on-fire problem. Through customer discoveries, we learned that our original business model, EEG earbuds to detect brain abnormalities, did not exhibit as much customer interest as we had hoped. The reality was that the average consumer was not entirely concerned with their brain health. However, we did find a new customer pain point – the inability to focus during a high-stakes time crunch, such as the days before a major exam. Pivoting our business model to this new focus required us to unlearn how we operated our company in the past year. Fortunately, this new pivot has garnered substantially more interest than we ever saw before we participated in the Entrepreneurs Challenge.

Lessons Learned: Customer-Centric Innovation

The lessons that have the most impact on Niura’s entrepreneurial journey is the emphasis on paying attention to the customer pain points. This seems like the simplest point to make sure of when making a product – make a product that people will want. Niura began its journey with a deep love for the product and technology that we were developing, and although that is an integral part of being dedicated to your venture, it crippled us in the sense that we believed people would want our product for simply being well designed and developed. By implementing this shift in thinking, we were able to develop our product in a way that people would want it for the service it provided to their lives along with mending a significant pain point. Without this shift in mindset, there is a good chance that we would have launched a product that would have little interest, or at the very least little customer retention. Now, we feel much more confident in our product and the way we serve our customers

Looking Ahead: Goals and Aspirations

Some of Niura’s next steps include further talking with customers to get closer to product-market fit, and ensuring that we launch a product that will have successful customer retention and satisfaction. In addition to this, we want to further the development of our hardware MVP and our mobile application. We expect this will take a lot of iteration based on user insight and feedback. In parallel to this development, we want to begin developing our machine learning model to interpret user brain activity to determine focus and stress levels dynamically. To do this, we have to collect a plethora of data to feed the model and tweak the accuracy of the outputs. Along with this, we have to make sure that our product is FCC compliant, which takes into account how our product interferes with other household electronics. Other than these developments, our next biggest goal is succeeding in the semi-finals of the Entrepreneurs Challenge – as it has been an anchor for our successful pivot!

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