My heart on Indiegogo

Jason Howlett
Mar 14 · 12 min read

Ever wondered what crowdfunding does to your heart and stress levels?

The PlatoScience Team. Balder 2nd from the right, wearing PlatoWork


This article illustrates Balder Onarheim’s experience of crowdfunding PlatoScience’s product, PlatoWork, in an impressive feat of under 18 hours.

We will illustrate 10 days of Balder’s journey from both a subjective perspective (what Balder felt and thought), combined with an objective perspective (impact on his body and brain), using data from wearables.

Read what Balder has to say himself, about his experience, in the section entitled “Conclusion from Balder” below.

Who is Balder and what is his product?

Balder Onarheim is a serial entrepreneur and former associate professor in creativity at the Technical University of Denmark. He is the founder of the Copenhagen Institute of NeuroCreativity and CEO at PlatoScience, making the world’s first headset for boosting cognition.

Your author

I have spent the past 6 years helping people and organisations, change behaviour and mindset, using a data driven approach. One source of data that I use in my work, at Manpremo, is heart rate variability (HRV).

Heart rate variability

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation in time between consecutive heartbeats. HRV is considered a biomarker for physical and psychological health. You can use it to objectively and accurate learn about someone’s sleep quality, exercise effectiveness, day time recovery and overall stress management.

People tend to be quite good at predicting what causes them high stress. Although people tend to be much less aware of what causes them low to medium stress; and even worse at guessing what promotes their effective recovery. We will see some concrete examples of this below. HRV data helps to develop this self-awareness.

One way in which we help people to measure their HRV data, is using Garmin wearables (that support the All day Stress & Recovery feature), linked up to our application, MAHOUT.

These Garmin wearables, use HRV technology from Firstbeat Technologies. Using wearables to track HRV, is not quite as accurate as Firstbeat’s ECG measurements (another style of measurement we use). Although it has been proven to provide a very powerful trend on the impact of your behaviour on your stress and recovery. For example is your behaviour making things better, worse or neither?

We provide advice and tips in this article, which we hope you find practical and useful. Our mission is to support people in being at their best, when it matters. Our intention is not to preach. Life should be livable.

If you practice the behaviours that support your mental and physical health 80% of the time; your body will be resilient enough to cope with the other 20%. We hope you learn something that provides value to you when you need it.

Balder is one of the MAHOUT testers and he gave me the permission to use his data for this article.

The big picture — 10 days

Area graph from Manpremo MAHOUT

The area graph above, shows Balder’s stress and recovery balance over 10 days, from February 28th 2019 until and including March 9th 2019.

As you can see above, Balder’s experience contains some particularly stressful days, during which he spends considerable hours experiencing stress and very little time experiencing recovery (even during his sleep). See March 5th and 9th.

For example on March 9th, he experiences much more stress compared to recovery. You can see there is a very low amount of recovery (shown by the bottom line), large amounts of low stress (second line up) and medium stress (third line up). He also has some high stress (top line).

Mild, short-term stress can be beneficial. We become more alert, our thinking rate increases, concentration improves and our motivation and performance is benefited.

The problem occurs when we experience long-term stress with no intermittent recovery (rest), like Balder does on March 5th and 9th. Unbroken high stress and the resulting high alertness breaks down our body and brain and can lead to disease and exhaustion.

If Balder was to continue this pattern he would be at risk of burnout. Although Balder manages to make his rhythm more sustainable on some of his days, by incorporating day time recovery and relaxation before bed to optimise his sleep. This is especially apparent on March 3rd and 7th. For example on March 3rd, you can see Balder experiences much more recovery compared to stress.

We will cover Balder’s days in more detail below, in addition to covering the importance of sleep and day time recovery.

You can read more about physiological stress here.


Before we dive into the experience, let’s take a quick look at crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is essentially a form of crowdsourcing in which many people contribute small amounts of money, to fund a product or project. This is facilitated by a digital platform accessed via a website. Balder and PlatoScience used the Indiegogo platform. Indiegogo was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in San Francisco. Indiegogo was one of the first organisations to offer crowdfunding.

Indiegogo logo

Crowdfunding is widely regarded as being stressful. There have been reports that the success rate can be as low as 9%.

This makes PlatoScience’s achievement of hitting their target in under 18 hours, even the more impressive. They received 22,000 Dollars from 100 contributors.

Balder starts his crowdfunding experience

It is 28th February 2019 and Balder and his team at PlatoScience, have decided to go ahead and crowdfund their PlatoWork headset on Indiegogo. This is a big decision to make, although the team had been considering it since 2015. The team concluded, that they had all the material for the crowdfunding project ready. The big goal was to get the crowdfunding project launched on the 4th March, in time for planned media exposure on the 5th!

Balder and his team worked late on the 28th, until 00:00, to start the process off, as the Indiegogo team are in San Francisco. Balder wanted to ensure they got the process going during Indiegogo’s work hours, to increase the likelihood of achieving their goal.

Graphs from Garmin Connect and Manpremo MAHOUT for Thursday 28th February

The additional graph to the left above, comes from Garmin’s Connect app. It shows Balder’s stress details for February 28th. Each bar is 3 minutes of Balder’s experience. Blue bars represent recovery (absence of stress). Orange bars represent stress. There is a stress score scale of 0–100.

0–25 is rest/recovery.

26–50 is low stress.

51–75 is medium stress.

76–100 is high stress.

Crowdfunding project approved and accepted

Indiegogo accepted the project on the 28th, so Balder and his team worked hard during Friday 1st March, to get all the material submitted to Indiegogo, before the deadline at 17:00 CET. They managed to make the deadline, although at 21:30 disaster struck! Balder noticed that all of their content was missing from the campaign page, with no possibility to recover it. Quite a set-back to say the least!

Friday 1st March

As you can see, above, Balder experienced peaks of stress at 21:30. You can also see below, that during the night between 1st and 2nd March, there was a lot of stress throughout his sleep, with little recovery.

Saturday 2nd March

Dealing with the disaster of losing their content

On Saturday 2nd March (image above), Balder had a call with Tine Presterud, PlatoScience’s head of communication, to decide what to do. Balder, being thoughtful and considerate of Tine getting some rest over the weekend; decided to inform Tine that they would postpone the launch of the project on Indiegogo until Tuesday. Tine should have some well-deserved rest.

Prioritising sleep and recovery

Balder then set to work to get everything back in place, so the project could be launched on Monday as planned. After working hard, Balder took the wise decision to prioritise his sleep that night. He took some time to recover before bed, by reading and avoiding digital devices. Balder was in bed at 21:00 and awoke refreshed at 11:00 on Sunday 3rd (image below).

Sunday 3rd March

Taking 30–60 minutes to relax before bed without digital devices, especially those with screens can make a significant difference to your recovery. More optimal ways to spend this time, include: taking the time to read, chat with a partner/friend, or simply breathe/meditate. This helps your body to follow its natural rhythm of preparing for sleep. You can read more about this in the article mentioned below.

Regarding the sleep itself, even though it is individual, most people benefit from 7–8 hours. Sleep is by far the most critical factor in recharging your body and brain and maintaining your well-being and ability to perform.

You can read more about the importance of sleep and how to improve it in this article.

This wise decision not only helped Balder gain some much needed rest during his sleep, it also provided him with much more capacity to deal with the rest of the preparation work. Balder’s stress and recovery balance was much better on Sunday. Balder achieved the lowest stress score of this 10-day experience: 19/100 (with the average of the 10 days being 29 and the highest 41).

Sunday 3rd March

Slowing down on Sunday 3rd March

On Sunday, Balder worked although he took it nice and easy. He started the day with a relaxed breakfast with his partner Mette, before working from home. With no disruptions he worked with good structure and focus. He also took time to recover by using his PlatoWork device, just after 16:30. As you can see above, there was a reduction in stress and an increase in recovery for the following 1.5 hours.

Day time recovery makes an amazing difference to how effective and efficient our brains work. Our brains are not machines that can work at high speeds continuously. The cognitive system in the brain that we use at work; consumes a huge amount of energy and it soon tires. Regular recovery, even as little 3–20 minutes, makes a huge difference. Read more about recovery in this article.

Read more about how PlatoWork can help your brain be at its best.

Fast paced Monday — launching the crowdfunding project

On Monday 4th, Balder worked with Tine for 13 hours straight, to get the project launched at 21:06 on Indigogo! This brought an immense sense of relief. As you can see below there is not much blue/recovery during the day, after Balder arrived at work. Although Balder’s stress levels do start to decrease from 21:00.

Monday 4th March

Balder was not finished; he still had the business as usual to catch up on, which he finished at 03:00 am. He was in bed at 04:00. What a day!

As described before, sleep is the most critical factor in our ability to perform. No matter how busy we are, a good night’s sleep will make us much more effective and efficient the next day. This means we will not only get more done in a shorter time, this work will also be of higher quality.

Lack of recovery taking its toll, before the great news arrived!

Tuesday 5th March

On the 5th March, Balder’s lack of sleep and the awareness of the project being live, took its toll. His stress was consistently medium to high, throughout the waking day, especially between 13:00 and 15:00.

Balder did aim and manage to get some solid recovery from 11:00–12:00, with a relaxing team lunch and then again after 15:00, when he got the amazing news that they had already reached their goal, in less than 18 hours!

Getting back into a sustainable rhythm for feeling good and optimal functioning

Thursday 7th March

With a sense of achievement, Balder managed to get himself back into a much more sustainable rhythm for the next two days. On the 7th he got a great stress and recovery balance, with a low score of 21/100.

Much of this due to his focus on sleep and day time recovery. During the 7th Balder cleared his calendar of meetings and was able to have time to focus. He also enjoyed a relaxing team lunch. The team received the amazing news that they had now reached 200% of their target! An achievement worth celebrating!


When it came to Friday the 8th, Balder was conscious of how stressful his week had been, although very pleased with what his team had achieved. He stopped work at 20:00. His aim was to recharge and celebrate by having some drinks with friends, before taking a very long sleep.

Saturday 9th March

Balder was out with friends on Friday, before getting to sleep at 02:00 am. He slept until 15:00 (13 hours) on March 9th. As you can see, even though Balder got 13 hours of sleep, most of this time is spent with his body in a stressed state.

The impact of alcohol comes as one of the biggest surprises to most people. Many of our customers have expressed that a glass or two of wine/beer, helps them to fall asleep faster and they think that they sleep better.

Alcohol actually causes stress in the body soon after we consume it; due to it being a toxin and its impact on our blood-sugar levels. We might fall asleep faster, but our sleep remains lighter and we lose the deeper phases, together with the REM phase of sleep. See this article for more information on this.

Our bodies also have a 24 hour circadian rhythm, which means for most people we get the most optimal recovery between 22:00/23:00, until 06:00/07:00 am. Any sleep outside of this window, will be sub-optimal, although it might still provide recovery (when no alcohol is consumed😉). More on this in this article on sleep tips.

Of-course, this was the weekend and Balder could relax the next day, knowing his team had achieved something quite remarkable!

At the time of writing Balder and his team at PlatoScience, have now reached $63,965 USD (290% of their target) on Indiegogo, raised by 200 backers.

Conclusion from Balder

‘My heart on Indiegogo’ is accurate on many levels: crowdfunding is not only about raising the money, or displaying your product (=heart) to the world, but exposing yourself and your product in a very naked way, where failure is not something you can hide in your internal stats.

A friend of mine, who has previously done two successful campaigns with OpenBCI, told me: “it’ll be the best and worst thing you’ll ever do” — so I was sort of prepared it would be rough.

But as with everything else, you might feel prepared, but don’t really understand a given pain before it hits you in the stomach. I know from data that sleep deprivation has an immediate impact on my performance, so a crucial preparation, was to have a night shift team; so even though I didn’t sleep much during the launch days, the sleep I got was without worries.

While I’ve been tracking and analysing my HRV data, for almost a year after completing a 7 day Firstbeat HRV assessment and coaching with Jason Howlett, it still surprises me, how accurately it detects the immediate effect of my actions.

In this case, I was impressed to see the powerful impact our team’s daily screen-free, ‘no work talk’ lunches had on my recovery during the launch week!



PlatoScience is a Danish neurotech company, developing headsets using electrical millicurrents (TES/tDCS) to redirect brain activity.


PlatoWork is the world’s first headset for boosting cognition, and offers the user four different modes: Create, Rethink, Learn, and Concentrate

Jason Howlett

Written by

Change agent — passionate about developing self-awareness and self-management for greater fulfillment.