Although I have had an opportunity to rack up a fair share of successes, there was a time when I could barely leave my house as I struggled with the crippling symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which causes uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts and behaviors. This struggle occurred due to one major reason: there was little access to OCD therapy, even though we live in a world filled with technology and immediate answers.
In 2014, I was so fed up with the struggle that I decided to do something about it- begin nOCD. nOCD, standing for “No OCD”, is an online platform that I believe would have helped me during the worst of my struggles and that currently is already helping thousands of others with OCD today. The platform is designed to help people with OCD during all four phases of treatment: 1) coping with the onset of OCD symptoms, 2) selecting a care team, 3) actively managing OCD treatment, and 4) maintaining OCD treatment progress. My team and I at nOCD are able to address each phase of treatment using a unique combination of highly vivid content and 21st-century technology. For instance, people with OCD can view our content on Instagram or Twitter at @treatmyocd and download nOCD for free on the App Store (m.treatmyocd.com/saveslives).
People with OCD say the app has been a major difference maker. It gives people guidance in the moment of OCD episodes, a structured platform to do CBT exercises, a community to talk with others (in beta), and real-time data 24/7. In my opinion, what sets nOCD apart is the objective data, since it’s all HIPAA compliant, and it empowers industry members to take better care of people with OCD long term. For example, with more data, a cure for OCD in the future is not out of the question.
After explaining nOCD and the services we provide, I often get asked, “How did you go from having an idea to actually starting a full-fledged company.” My answer- having a great team, supportive family, and a lot of caffeine.
Thanks to some good old-fashioned networking and cold-calling we raised $91,000 of funding from private investors, a medical advisor, a leading health entrepreneur Glen Tullman (former CEO of AllScripts, CEO of Livongo Health and Forbes magazine contributor), and we hired a firm in Armenia to build the software. Once the first build was finished, we tested it with hundreds of OCD specialists in five countries and brought on a clinical advisory board of OCD specialists to ensure the app was supported by evidence-based protocols.
Then, after proving the product, my team and I raised another pre-seed funding round of $150,000 from friends and family investors, which helped us improve the product enough to release our “version one” build in November of 2016. Over the last year, with an entirely remote team and no marketing money, we’ve scaled the iOS app to 12,000 people with OCD, grown a social media community of 25,000 people, and added over 50,000 clinician subscribers to our newsletter. We already have the largest OCD treatment community in the world, and we’re only getting better.
The growth has allowed us to recently sign partnerships with San Jose Behavioral Health (an Acadia Healthcare hospital), Stanford Medical School, and Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, and it also has given our team the opportunity to work full-time in downtown Chicago.
Our board member Glen Tullman, whose career has been spent running and investing in large healthcare companies, also sees a lot of potential. He looks for consumer-focused healthcare apps and he believes nOCD fits the bill for what people are after.
“The future of healthcare is all about empowering consumers to take better care of themselves and apps like nOCD are a perfect fit for enabling people when they feel an OCD episode coming on. They actually take charge and take control to better manage their own health,” says Tullman.
As time progresses, we have the capability to grow even faster. We’ve recruited some of the best minds in healthcare tech and half of our team personally suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We have a fierce combination of understanding OCD and technology that will allow us to change the world. It’s an exciting time!