Q&A with Aneela Idnani Kumar, who turned a bad habit into a Minnesota Cup-winning idea

Monday, January 14, 2019

Aneela Idnani Kumar’s pursuit of product to help address her own mental health disorder led to her founding HabitAware, a startup that recently won the grand prize in the Minnesota Cup business-idea competition.

Idnani Kumar and her husband, Samir, launched St. Louis Park-based HabitAware about three years ago to develop a bracelet that would alert wearers when they are performing repetitive actions, like hair pulling, that can be symptoms of mental health conditions.

The company has gone on to raise funding from individual investors and venture capital firm Backstage Capital, which backs startups started by people of color and LGBT founders. HabitAware also recently landed a $300,000 federal grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study its product, called Keen, as a treatment for trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder.

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