LIVING MIGHTY WELL
Emily Levy ’16, Yousef Al-Humaidhi ’15, and Maria del Mar Gomez ’16 are helping patients and caregivers turn sickness into strength.
It started with a diagnosis. And, a sock.
As a sophomore at Babson, Emily Levy ’16 learned she had Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease, and co-infections. Because it had been undiagnosed for seven years, a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC line) was inserted into her arm for treatment. To protect the tubing, Levy’s doctors recommended she wear a cut up sock on her arm.
A sock on her arm during her Kappa Kappa Gamma meetings. A sock on her arm during classes. It served as a physical reminder to Levy of her illness. “It was challenging,” said Levy. “All of the sudden, I was a sick girl with a medical device in my arm.”
But, Levy didn’t let the diagnosis, or the sock, slow her down. Instead, she turned illness into opportunity.
Together with Yousef Al-Humaidhi ’15 and Maria del Mar Gomez ’16, Levy developed PICCPerfect PICC line cover, a stylish, functional alternative to traditional options such as cut-up socks. During their time as students and now alumni, they’ve leveraged Babson’s programs, resources, and community to grow and evolve the business and the impact it has on patients. Now called Mighty Well, the team is pioneering the wearable wellness industry, using their company to empower patients and their caregivers to turn sickness into strength.
Going for It
For Levy, the motivation to turn her idea into action came during an undergraduate semester at Babson’s San Francisco campus. There, she took a class led by Jim Poss, the founder of Bigbelly Solar; after sharing her idea with Poss and classmates, everyone told her the same thing: just go for it.
“And, that’s what we did,” said Levy. They launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, developed a prototype, found a manufacturer, and made 1,000 PICCPerfect units.
Back on the Wellesley campus, Levy and the team took advantage of accelerators like the Summer Venture Program and the Women Innovating Now Lab® to continue to develop the product. “Accelerators made me feel not so alone as an entrepreneur,” said Levy. “In the WIN Lab, mentors pushed me to think bigger. It also kept us motivated and on track.”
The team went on to win the undergraduate B.E.T.A. Challenge in 2016, and was accepted into MassChallenge that summer. That experience pushed the team to rebrand into Mighty Well, expanding their mission and product line to continue to humanize the 117 million Americans who are faced with one or more chronic illness and the loved ones who surround them.
A Breakaway Moment
In September 2016, Mighty Well won the Babson Breakaway Challenge, the first and only competition promoting gender parity in the venture capital industry. With the victory came a prize of $250,000 investment—the largest VC funding amount ever awarded in a women-specific business competition—along with in-kind prizes to help the team continue to build the brand.
That victory served as a pivotal moment for Levy and the team.
“Winning the Breakaway Challenge was the catalyst for us to continue pursuing Mighty Well full time,” said Levy. They were able to bring on a former CEO of Ralph Lauren Footwear/President of Rue La La as an executive chairman, helping them further understand the manufacturing process and what it takes to build a global brand. They brought on a creative director to align the brand with the product line.
“I’ve learned so much this year,” said Levy of the growth and changes the brand has experienced since last fall. “I like to think of it as a hands-on MBA.”
For all they’ve achieved so far, Levy, Gomez, and Al-Humaidhi will be honored as Rising Stars at this fall’s Celebrating Achievements in Entrepreneurial Thought & Action celebration, where Babson honors alumni who have distinguished themselves in entrepreneurial endeavors across all types of enterprises.
But, success hasn’t slowed them down. The team is laser-focused on continuing to grow and be the top-of-mind community for patients and caregivers. Said Levy: “When someone gets sick, we want them to think of Mighty Well.”
On the horizon for the brand and the team: a website redesign, new apparel and gear, and continued community outreach. They’ll continue to develop the charitable arm of the business, Friend in the Fight, which donates to a new charity each quarter. Their first is Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
With continued growth on the mind, Levy is actively fundraising, seeking connections to national charities to partner with in the future—and invites fellow Babson alumni in these industries to connect with the Mighty Well team. After all, those Babson connections helped the idea blossom from a sock on her arm to a pioneering wearable wellness brand and community.
“Working with Babson alumni is amazing,” she said. “We all have the same mentality of: here’s the problem. Now, let’s get to work. That’s key when you’re building a startup.”