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Most of the women don’t know and believe in what they are capable of. And Either they subconsciously feel or the society makes them feel that they might not have what it takes to innovate or create because we are too emotional? How about we use these Emotions to create something which matters to the society? #Techforgood ! Only if women believed in themselves and took charge the world would be a place full of compassion and gratitude.

Rather than teaching women how to behave like a man in office we should teach men how to be compassionate like a woman in a workplace! Let’s talk about mental health, technology and entrepreneurship in an informal session with the Co-Founder of Neuphony, a wearable stress tracker dedicated to her late sister.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Ria Rustagi is the Co-Founder and COO at Pankhtech. She has pursued MSc. Integrated Circuit Design (NTU, Singapore – TUM, Germany) and also completed her BTech. Electronics and communication (JIIT, India) in 2015. She has been working as a Development Engineer Physical Design at Infineon Technologies AG for the past 4 years now and incorporated the Pankhtech startup with her now-husband 2 years back dedicated to her late sister.

Pankhtech Neuphony is a wearable neurofeedback device that can help people understand the brain which has so long been a Blackbox to the common man. We bring together the knowledge of neuroscience and the power of machine learning to develop the solution – Neuphony which will – a) Help you deal with stress and avoid burnout in day 2-day life. b) Use meditation, music and breathing techniques to bring your brain to a calm state. c) Track brain activity in real-time to provide you feedback on your lifestyle.

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Session Transcript

Ria Rustagi
My name is Ria Rustagi. And I’m the Co-Founder and COO of Neuphony. Pankhtech is the name of my company, we’ve developed a wearable stress tracker. So something about myself, I originally come from India, currently I’ve been living in Germany, I’ve done my masters from Singapore. So I’ve travelled quite around for studies in work. I have, I’m actually an engineer. I’ve done MSc in electronics, integrated circuit designing. And during that time, my eldest sister, she was diagnosed with brain infection. When that happened, I was pursuing, I was just finishing up my master’s travelling from Singapore to Germany. And unfortunately, due to some reasons, it was not, we were not able to diagnose why this was happening with her. And only in a matter of, let’s see, few days, she went from a normal 25 year old working individual to somebody who was in a stroke, Ico, and a very critical son Foundation, paralysed. And in a semi-coma condition. during that phase, it was very difficult and challenging, you know, to be able to help my family and contribute that seeing my eldest sister like that, I had to still travel to Germany so that my father could actually take a break from his work if needed, so that I can financially contribute to the family. That’s why I came to Germany to pursue my internship pieces, and then future job. And that’s how I actually got the idea for this product.

Ria Rustagi
So me and my now husband, that time boyfriend, we came up with this idea if there was a product, which could have helped me communicate with my family. So unfortunately, in November 2016, she passed away him and my company, which is punk tech is dedicated to her. Her name is Pam curry. And, yeah, so me, my husband, now we kind of came up with this idea that if there was a product who could have which could have helped me and my sister communicate, you know, maybe just like a yes and no, some sort of validation that she’s there listening to me, just something would have been very helpful. And that’s how we came up with new funny, new funny doesn’t do that yet. But with the vision to kind of create something like that, we started with the first step towards creating an impact. Because I have four and a half years of experience of working in a multinational company, I’ve been still, I’m still doing that. And for the past two years, I’ve been doing both balancing my startup across India and Europe and working full time for European entity.

Ria Rustagi
But I have to say, like, I wanted to work on something which created an impact. And that’s why my topic is harnessing emotional intelligence. Why creating an IoT business, because I feel I just couldn’t do just go to office every day, do something, while knowing that it’s not, let’s say, changing the world and changing the struggles I had gone through. And this is something which is very, very close to me. So that’s how I came up with this idea. And as I mentioned, for the past two years, I’ve been working on this day and night. And trust me, it’s very challenging to work on a mental health product. While going through all of this, because I have PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I got to know about it only while building this product. Because before that, I actually just thought that, you know, it’s trauma. People go through it, and I’m alone in a foreign land away from friends and family because my boyfriend had just joined in in 2018. But and maybe Germany is not the best country when it comes to kind of dealing with emotional issues because your people are a little bit distant. It was challenging. I had kind of just put myself and my life into my work. I tried to just get more and more of tasks for myself. I completed my master thesis in four months, which People generally take six or more months to do. So not the best way to kind of cope with emotional issues. And yeah, so this is something about me, and what I do and where I do it. A few things that I wanted to share with everybody. And I’m just going to speak for 10 minutes. And I’m still going to start a q&a Because I like to keep it more interactive is that.

Ria Rustagi
I have been on both the ends, I am on both the ends, I have four and a half, five years experience. As an engineer, I started engineering in India, I started engineering in Singapore in Germany, I think it’s, at least for me, it was easier in India, because the ratio of female to male was like 60%, male 40% females while I was studying, even in offices, so that was pretty comfortable. In Germany, specifically, I don’t know about the rest of Europe, but there are very less females, at least, as I see in my office, I think, one in every 1520 men, we have females here. And generally they are just freshers. So I was hired as a fresher, and it was very challenging.

Ria Rustagi
So I was in a team of people, 40 men, and most of them were above 40. And I was just like a 23 year old. So it was very challenging. I didn’t have the most easiest experience, getting in and having to say, because I was very hyperactive, I wanted to learn I wanted to grow. And I always one thing, which was very weird for me that I am super efficient, I used to go to office like nine to five. And the very minute my work was complete, I used to be back home. But I see, I think this is a little bit of fault on my end as well, because we don’t identify at least network a lot in the company, I saw a lot of men doing this. I agree there was a language barrier. But it kind of made me doubt myself, you know that I wasn’t able to gel in very nicely, at least with the technical team. Because all my female colleagues used to do the same. They used to kind of finish the tasks and go home. So there was not much to kind of connect and do in the offices at that time. And this is I think, as women we should change. And even at the managerial level, like we were talking about in the previous chat that there shouldn’t be maybe female mentors or male mentors, I saw, at least in my experience, a little bit lacking because, as I said, there were not many females, everybody used to head out home, like as early as possible. And even with men, I didn’t have the most easiest experience because I was always told that you should first look at yourself and what you can change. And I am like if I am facing an emotion, I obviously it’s not that I’m going to get angry or something I’m not allowed to be, let’s say emotional or angry in the meetings, but some of the managers are worried it was okay for them to be angry and a little bit loud. And it was, let’s say a very challenging experience.

Ria Rustagi
For me, at least I know. Not the easiest, as I said, politically, emotionally, it was a lot. I was always told even in the business world once that I should, we should learn to be more like men. So I took this leadership course I was just telling the girls before this webinar that in all leadership coursework here in Germany, when I wish I wanted to take for my business, I was told how to be more like men. I actually feel that if firstly, that was wrong, no gender should be taught to be like the other because I think we both together makes like 100%. And we need a balance of all kinds of opinion. Like at least for my business, I always make sure that I do the operations and marketing for example. Then I’m hiring a female, a male operations and marketing. So it’s always alternate. So that things that I cannot think about which don’t come natural to me, can come to somebody with a different personality. And this is how I personally hire people but yeah, so it wasn’t the most let’s say, it was very challenging even once there was this investor who said that it was a pitching platform, where people were startups were raising money.

Ria Rustagi
And one of the investors had the guts to kind of say that. He invests, and it was here in Germany, again, he invests in startups, which are founded by women, because women ask for less money. And another thing that we used to talk about in the q&a, I think, is this because I think we always doubt ourselves so much like, trust me, I do the same. I know I’m working on it. It’s not something that you can just learn like this. But we doubt ourselves so much, even when we are right. And this is I think, that we should work upon, be it our salary negotiations, be it our role, be it our networking in offices, just anything. And this is my two cents on the, let’s say, harnessing emotional awareness and intelligence kind of by building an IoT business or even while doing your job. Thank you, Kathy, I hope you can join in for the q&a.

Katie White
So yeah, ready for the q&a part of the session? So we’ve got a few here. So first, what advice would you give to your younger self, when it comes to approaching your your career?

Ria Rustagi
There’s so many things I would like to say to her. It’s like, when I was pursuing engineering, I did it because I was good at study. So I have always been the person who scored like, the very top at my education, and I thought that I should just do things which people are good at. But you know, it kind of, because I was so competitive. And so like, if you tell me not to do this, or I can’t do this, I’m definitely gonna do that. And when I was growing up at that time, engineering was just there. But it was like a male dominated field. And I just wanted to change that I did have a different approach. It didn’t come naturally to me like the other guys. While they are like opening computers and doing everything. It didn’t come. But I would like to tell that girl that it’s okay. I loved what was said in the meeting before this, like in the discussion before this, just relax a little bit, I was super, super anxious person, then, which kind of makes me the same right now. Because I put a lot of pressure on myself. I still do that. But I’m kind of unlearning it now. Yeah, I don’t want to put myself pressure on it. I do what I do. And if I feel like taking a break, or if I don’t feel like doing there is a fight between my brain but I’d make sure that the person who’s telling me to calm down kind of wins the conversation.

Katie White
Yeah, definitely. I feel like pressure is good to an extent. But when you’re over exerting yourself, like there comes a point where you do need to, like, take a break and reflect for yourself. Because I mean, you are like the most important person in your life.

Ria Rustagi
I think like with now as we are going and we are talking about specifically in this woman in IoT, there’s so much pressure that you know, there are a few women out there, that just puts a lot more pressure on the woman who went out there to kind of perform because then the upcoming generation is going to look after them because and this I know is important. I also kind of feel pressurised that I want to create an impact. I want to make sure that girls are telling themselves that it’s okay, do anything and everything and most importantly, be financially independent, like add up most important, but just, you know, here and there, take a day for yourself, like just for yourself, be selfish. Tell yourself I am the most important.

Katie White
Thanks for that Ria. So we have another question as well. So, in the last panel discussion, the guests touched on something called imposter syndrome, I’m sure pretty much everyone’s heard of that. Have you ever encountered this and how did you overcome it if you have as well

Ria Rustagi
I have encountered it so bad because as you know, it’s kind of connected because when we put so much pressure on ourselves, I always an adult. That is just what I want you This one I want to do. So imposter syndrome basically means that we always have a self doubt, but anything in everything you do. So if you take a decision, I always need, like a validation, like when I was growing up until unless I came abroad all by myself nobody to kind of cross check. If I’m doing it, right, it I always doubted my decisions, I kind of have overcome it a little bit. Because I tell people around me and me men, it’s that it could be my father, it could be my husband that let me take it, even if I fuck up, let me fuck it up. Yeah, you know, let me learn my, by my mistakes. It could be anything I’m not good at. It could be things I want to learn and take decisions for myself. Obviously, families can help around each other, I can help my husband, he can help me. But because my mom was not independent, it kind of put a lot of pressure on me on both ends, that I need to be independent. I don’t want that. And that kind of did initially put me into the imposter syndrome situation, but not anymore. Like just own your shit.

Katie White
As you’ve grown up? How have you sort of learned how to, you know, deal with it?

Unknown Speaker
From family help, actually.

Katie White
Yeah, most definitely, as well. Like, having like, you know, supportive people around you is always beneficial. So yeah, definitely have fun. So another question we have in is, what developments in wearables are you most excited to see in 2022? Obviously, you you’re very well versed within the wearable space.

Ria Rustagi
So I think now, it’s all about a tech for good. So I mean, like, my main motive was that if, if my husband was thinking of creating another device, which maybe didn’t create an impact, I wouldn’t have been a part of it, I am giving up on everything that I have, let’s see constant income, taking risks, because I want to create an impact, and you can’t create impact by being comfortable. So the first thing is that Tech for Good is very important and is the thing, you will start seeing technology like VR glasses, you will see glasses, which you can zoom in for the blind people, you will see machines which are there for the deaf and the dumb to kind of help them navigate them through maybe using Siri, Google Assistant. That’s the kind of wearables, it’s all about helping people, even euphony we aim that we help people understand their brain, because you might tell yourself that you are just a very passionate person, but you might be having an anxiety attack, because passion is being over driven and being super excited about something. And that there’s a point in your brain, which says that your focus and your stress levels are optimum, the stress level is making you the best focused person you are. But just a little bit right to that is where you start getting into anxiety and everything.

Ria Rustagi
So it’s quite like close, very close together. So you need to make sure that you are at the right point. It’s just like boiling point, you know, just one point. A little bit here is dangerous. And this is what we want to make sure with new fury that people are aware about themselves. Yeah. And they can like you’re tracking your calories, you are tracking your micronutrients, how many carbs, protein and everything is there in your food? Why don’t you do that for your brain? Yeah, why don’t you learn more about how to be a better person and be a calmer person, you don’t have to be excellent. You just have to be a more compassionate person. Like, that’s what I feel.

Katie White
And, and so with Neuphony, as well as the business. So how far have you sort of like deployed the product to like, already have sold a few products?

Ria Rustagi
So last year, we were in the MVP phase, where we were selling the product across let’s see to the stakeholders in six continents. We got that feedback. we’ve iterated the changes, we’ve made changes in the mechanical design, electronic software, hardware, everything, and we’re just up for the launch in February and March.

Katie White
Yeah. So I guess that the angle for you ultimately is to like, have this easily accessible and sort of like the headset and any sector that needs that.

Ria Rustagi
Exactly. So I’m we are open for it. And I don’t want to sell let’s say I know as a business owner, it’s not the best thing to say. But I don’t care for the number of sales I made I care for the number of impacts I’m Yeah, because last year I made one impact and I was happy I guess. Because that’s what I am about. Like that was that girl. She was a very young girl, just like us putting a lot of pressure on herself. And she was like my family stalking toxic, my boyfriend is toxic, my work is toxic. And I just think that I’m being a very weak person and giving it up. But we checked her brain activity, she was borderline clinical depression, he could detect that something is wrong, and she should just seek professional help. We want her she got herself enrolled into therapy and everything. Seven, eight months later, she is now a certified meditation professional in Switzerland. Yeah. And this is the goal, like, yeah, won’t run after money and relations run after peace and happiness.

Katie White
Yeah, I guess there’s no better sort of fulfilment knowing that you’ve created a product that’s changed someone’s life for the better. You know, even if just one person it was 100 people great, you know, Joe, no. And so yeah, thank you for that Ria. So another question we have is, What was the hardest challenge you encountered when starting up your business? I’m sure there are many.

Ria Rustagi
This is the wrong platform to be saying this. But earlier, when I was starting this business, I had a goal that my company will have 80% women and 20% of men. But trust me, it was difficult, like I could not be I struggled a lot, I did struggle, because there are a few women out there who are very passionate, and they’re, it’s just like, it’s a balance, there will be men also like this. But the fact that we are just setting up, we want to establish and achieve something, the kinds of put more pressure on women, because it’s a male dominated industry, even if they don’t perform it, nobody cares. But when we don’t perform, we kind of scale our growth a little bit less, you know, and when I wanted to hire so many females, I got disappointed a lot, unfortunately. And I always used to get hurt down to the core. And I’m like, why are a few like, maybe I hired the wrong people. But even then, like, you know, somewhere, some took priority for their families. It’s okay, it’s right. But we as women should know that we can balance it out, if people would have just asked me that this is how they want to do. And that’s the right way to do it. I would have agreed I am all up for work life balance, prioritise prioritising yourself, but it’s just that you need to take that risk, you need to be passionate about it just don’t do anything for the sake of doing it. Because it’s cool to be a woman in business. No, you really need to care about what you do. And this was, I’m still struggling specifically in the tech domain, because the tech team is completely males. And I want to hire females, but they want to be either safe. Or they want to, they want to have it all. They want to be safe. They want to have a work life balance. They want to prioritise their families, they are not passionate about their work. And this is something that I struggle with, because I am all up for prioritising your family. But then the time you devote here, you have to be passionate, and you have to be 100% here. And I’m not saying about Indian woman or German woman, I’m just saying we tried a lot. Try different nationalities, different cultures, different age groups. But that kind of like was like a very difficult thing that I had to do. And I still have to accept because I’m pretty sure other businesses also feel the same if I want to, but I’m not able to. And then for people who just don’t want to, it’s

Katie White
Yeah, and I guess because you’re so passionate, you know about the business as well. You want you know, like minded people.

Ria Rustagi
I just want people who are passionate. If you say you want to exhale, if you have experience in why I don’t care, as like there was somebody talking in the previous chat right there. Your degrees, your experience doesn’t matter. What matters is what you want to do and what you’re passionate about. And that’s what I’m asking, just tell me one thing that you’re passionate about you could be an HR and wanting to go into designing are the other way around. I’m all up for it. Just be a little bit crazy. For your work and for your business.

Katie White
Thank you for answering that question, Ria. So I have one more question for you. And it is what advice would you give to females wanting to start up their own business?

Ria Rustagi
Just go for it today? Yeah, there’s no good time. There’s no good place, wherever you are, whatever you want to do if you have an idea act upon it. I did my job and my business together for two years. And I’m a vegetarian living in Germany and I love Indian food. So I used to like Coke do everything. If you want, if you’re passionate about it, you will be able to make it you will make it work anyhow. So if you want to do the advices, if you are really crazy about it, just go and start working on it today. And you don’t have to take any classes or anything, be your own boss and learn from your own mistakes. There’s no MBA or no degree that can teach you how to fuck up and how to correct it. So make your own child like go through your own challenges and just overcome them. But started like, my father was a businessman, I hated that. I never thought I’ll be a businesswoman. And when I started doing it, I was like, hell yeah, like I was meant to do this. Like, I was meant to do this, and I’m super happy. So just just start.

Katie White
I guess that’s a great way to sort of wrap up the session as well. So Ria, we would you like to sort of unone to announce the next speaker as you’d like to do that and also, where the audience can find you on social media and the website.

Ria Rustagi
Perfect. So my name is Ria, you can find me on any platforms. Ria Rustagi, all new funny on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, I do have a mental health channel as well on Instagram and Facebook. And I could not be more happy to introduce Kelly Ireland who’s also a founder, businesswoman, founder and CEO of Meghan Petersen enterprise account as an executive at CBT. Thank you so much, Kelly. Thank you. Thank you. Bye

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