Meet The Inventors: Kamran and Nadia Ansari of FluxWear On How To Go From Idea To Store Shelf

Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine
Published in
17 min readDec 30, 2021


There’s no one moment that will make this entrepreneurial process easier. It’s all about incremental forward steps that slowly, but surely, accumulate into something great over time. I think every entrepreneur has the fantasy that when the product is built and unveiled, the world will simply come racing to buy it, admire it, or at least recognize a faucet of its brilliance. It is easy to envision some sort of a magical, mythical inflection point. Feel free to daydream, as long as one remembers that reality is far less dramatic and much more incremental. I have found that progress is not an immediate inflection point but, rather, the slow, daily accumulation of small victories.

As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kamran and Nadia Ansari of FluxWear.

Kamran Ansari, the CEO and Co-Founder of FluxWear, created the company and its hero product, SHIFT, in 2020. Kamran began developing SHIFT’s core technology three years earlier to help his sister, Nadia, reduce her pain through meditation after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that caused her severe chronic pain. It was then that Kamran realized that Nadia was not alone — there are many people who want to meditate to attain the various health benefits but find it difficult due to high amounts of stress, anxiety or pain. Kamran designed SHIFT to make the health benefits of meditation accessible for this large, and growing, portion of the population.

As CEO, Kamran is responsible for the management and execution of company strategy, manufacturing, and technical development at FluxWear. He is a two-time recipient of the Beckman-Chapman Young Scientist Award for his research in pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy, and is a 2020–2022 World Science Scholar. Recently, Kamran was invited to speak at the Stanford School of Medicine AI + HealthOnline Conference in December 2021.

Nadia Ansari, the COO and Co-Founder of FluxWear, is the inspiration behind SHIFT’s groundbreaking technology and is responsible for the logistics, marketing, and daily operations of FluxWear. In 2017, Nadia was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome which led to severe peripheral neuropathy and chronic pain. While doctors recommended meditation as a form of pain management, she struggled to do so because of the severe pain she was experiencing. Witnessing the challenges she faced, her brother, Kamran, was inspired to create SHIFT, a neuromodulation device designed to help entrain her brainwaves. After extensive experimentation, Nadia says SHIFT has dramatically improved her quality of life by helping her rapidly attain a meditative state.

In 2020, Nadia was named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Orange County by the Orange County Register and was inducted into the Gallery of National Young Inventors. She also created an award-winning documentary on chronic pain titled “The Invisible Condition.” Nadia is a member of Creative Healing for Youth in Pain and co-chair of the Youth Council for the International Children’s Advisory Network.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

NADIA: We went to school, played with friends, and tried the standard elementary and middle school activities, like soccer and karate classes, until it became obvious that we really don’t have the physical or hand-eye coordination to pull that off for the long term.

Our childhoods changed, however, when I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In July 2017, I was hospitalized for a week. I then spent the rest of the summer on the couch in severe pain, rotated in and out of school for the next couple of years and experimented with multiple types of treatments, which were — at best — ineffective and — at worst — caused adverse side effects, like brain fog or hallucinations. It was a transformative period for our family since, for the first time, we were faced with navigating the complexities of the healthcare system and researching different therapies and the nature of neuropathies, among various other topics, just to find some way to help me feel better.

Kamran was deeply impacted by my diagnosis. We have always had a strong bond, and were (and still are) each other’s best friends, so seeing me in so much pain was very difficult for him. From the moment I was diagnosed, Kamran felt he had to help in some meaningful way. When I declared that a particular pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy device — which I had regularly used to manage my pain — no longer worked for me, our parents gave Kamran the green light to take it apart. He quickly figured out how it worked. After he finished dissecting it and researching the mechanisms of actions underlying PEMF therapy, he began devoting most of his time to building a better device to help me. Years of dedication later, he would come to create that exact device.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

KAMRAN AND NADIA: We’ve cataloged quite a few favorite phrases and sayings that seem to hold true, even as circumstances change. One that we reference regularly is — within our strengths lie the seeds of destruction, rooted in our weaknesses lies the foundation for victory. We’re not exactly sure where it came from. We’ve said it in our family forever, but it may have begun as a paraphrase of some other words of wisdom. Wherever it may have originated, we like it because it is both a reminder to be humble when we experience success and to be hopeful when we suffer a failure. It prompts us to always think deeply about how our strengths could actually end up hurting us — often in unexpected ways — and about how our weaknesses can actually end up being a competitive advantage. “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Professor Clayton Christensen, brings this concept home by examining how well-run, dominant companies can — within a matter of years — lose their market position because the successes of their business models prevent them from being able to pivot and adapt to changing market dynamics. Think of Kodak missing the digital camera revolution because of its dependency on the once dominant film business.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

KAMRAN & NADIA: We enjoy listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast. He is so skilled at integrating seemingly disparate concepts into cohesive insights — which often run counter to conventional wisdom. We enjoy having our perspective on human behavior, natural phenomena and historical events inverted and twisted. Plus, one of his episodes called the Bomber Mafia (Season 5, Episode 4) introduced us to the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Airfield in Montgomery, Alabama from which we sourced our informal company motto Proficimus More Irretenti — We Make Progress Unhindered by Custom.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

KAMRAN & NADIA: We recognize that there are multiple stages to building a company. We began with an idea that we developed into a prototype which recently has become a product, but that still does not mean we’ve built — or even will build — a successful business. We have a philosophy that we shouldn’t look or predict too far ahead. Instead, we should focus on creating a high-quality product that uniquely serves a real problem and understand that problem better than anyone else in the market. Combining that with acquiring top notch talent and advisors, we hope our approach will evolve into a successful business; but, we also recognize that this will be an on-going challenge which won’t be overcome any time in the near future.

What was the catalyst that inspired you to invent your product? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

KAMRAN: Fairly soon after Nadia was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre, she began using a large pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) pad to help her with her chronic pain. She would lay on it, let it run for a bit and stop therapy when she felt better. I was fascinated by how pulsing magnetic fields at rather low intensities could affect the body at all. If you do basic calculations, you’ll quickly conclude that the energy range inputted by some of these pulsing magnetic fields is less than the background thermal noise in the human body. I wondered, ‘How could this stimulation be affecting Nadia at all?’ That inquiry kick-started my research into viable mechanisms of action for PEMF. I eventually stumbled on stochastic resonance, variations of the Kuramoto oscillation model and graph theory as applied to the brain. While thinking about how these varied concepts worked together, I realized how one can generate a desired degree of neuronal synchronicity — even at very low intensities of stimulation. That realization set me on the path to create my first successful prototype and achieve my goal of helping my sister.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

KAMRAN: I begin by assuming that, whatever idea first comes to my mind, someone must have previously developed a version of it. But that’s actually a good thing. Finding and then analyzing multiple prior attempts to solve a problem that I’m interested in helps me better understand how others have characterized the problem at hand, how others have attempted to solve it and the relative strengths, and weaknesses, of those various approaches. The process of invention is a highly iterative one — requiring multiple prototypes and different design conceptualizations — so learning from those prior attempts serves to accelerate my own development.

As far as how to find those historical iterations, it’s a matter of speaking to people in industry, conducting Internet searches and product-specific searches at major retailer sites like Amazon and eBay, reviewing academic papers and performing patent searches at the US Patent and Trademark Office website.

For the benefit of our readers, can you share the story, and outline the steps that you went through, from when you thought of the idea, until it finally landed on the store shelves? In particular we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

KAMRAN: Given that this is my first commercial product, my process was somewhat haphazard and unstructured. I began by ordering parts from Digi-Key electronics and seeing if I could piece together an operating prototype. When I realized that I needed several specially made components, I generated CAD/ CAM drawings and — since I was a novice — I found an experienced CAD/CAM consultant through Upwork to correct my work. I searched the Internet to find a quality turnkey electronics manufacturer and — without interfacing with anyone — I uploaded my designs and hoped for the best. Obviously, the first components came with serious flaws, which I corrected by emailing them and working through the changes. I went through this process for each of the components of SHIFT, basically doing a rough initial version that was then honed by work from a deeply experienced consultant and a turnkey component manufacturer, until I was able to get all the parts to make a functional prototype. Once I had that clarity and demonstrated the efficacy of my design, I brought the entire package to a development partner who did a great job at professionalizing my original prototype for commercial sale. Along the way and before disclosing any new version, we wrote up and filed multiple provisional patent applications — each of which captured various iterations of our ideas — and then filed several utility and PCT applications based on those provisionals.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

KAMRAN: I was in the midst of making my first prototypes and was trying to integrate my cloth liner — which holds the magnetic field emitters — into the rest of the cap. I hadn’t sewn at all before I started working on this prototype, but I assumed that after a couple of YouTube videos I would be able to quickly sew the perimeter of the liner into the rest of the cap. After spending a substantial amount of time threading the needle and completing an hour’s worth of stitches, I pulled the thread and watched all my work unravel. I realized I failed to do the most basic step: anchor my stitches with a knot. I hung my head low, knowing I had made the same mistake for all the other prototypes made thus far. It was a lesson in humility and patience and reminded me that no task should be taken for granted — no matter how seemingly small or easy.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Invented My Product” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)


Design requires making hard choices rapidly and without perfect information. Our original SHIFT design had multiple operating modes and we realized — given how new this product class is — going to market with such a complicated device didn’t make much sense. We’ll get there, eventually, but first we need to choose simplicity. Deciding to eliminate certain features such as multiple stimulation modes, at least for our first version, was extremely difficult to do.

Don’t be afraid to completely change directions — regardless of how dramatic — if you believe it’s the right thing to do. I first conceptualized the chronic pain problem from the standpoint of peripheral stimulation, much like how transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS is used for back pain. I realized that this is a suboptimal approach and, instead, I should focus on a centralized neuromodulation approach requiring me to iterate away from my initial work.

Just start building and accept that version one will always stink. It’s natural for anyone who takes pride in their work to hesitate engaging in an activity that will likely produce a subpar result, at least from the outset. I know that I initially hesitated to start building anything at all in fear that it wouldn’t represent the perfect vision I had for SHIFT. However, it’s important to just keep moving forward. So, while SHIFT has a sleek cadet cap look now, the first version was a retrofitted safari hat with tons of wires jetting out in all directions and a singular cloth strip to secure the exposed main control unit.

Don’t be afraid to expose your creation to people you trust early on. Again, it’s natural for anyone to want to wait for the product to be perfect before exposing it to people one may admire, respect and trust, but waiting risks the possibility of missing out on valuable insights that can help the design process. When I first allowed people to try my prototype, I was so nervous, but I realized how the design had to change simply to accommodate variations in head sizes — an issue I was not sufficiently focused on from the outset.

There’s no one moment that will make this entrepreneurial process easier. It’s all about incremental forward steps that slowly, but surely, accumulate into something great over time. I think every entrepreneur has the fantasy that when the product is built and unveiled, the world will simply come racing to buy it, admire it, or at least recognize a faucet of its brilliance. It is easy to envision some sort of a magical, mythical inflection point. Feel free to daydream, as long as one remembers that reality is far less dramatic and much more incremental. I have found that progress is not an immediate inflection point but, rather, the slow, daily accumulation of small victories.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

KAMRAN: The first question is: can you build a workable — even if very rough — prototype yourself, or do you need to hire consultants? If you can build a prototype yourself, then I suggest doing so because you will gain tremendous insights into what features work, what features don’t work and the key design challenges which must be addressed to create a commercial product. At some point during that learning process, you will hopefully develop something that is worth filing a patent on. If you can’t build a prototype yourself, I suggest filing a patent on your best educated guess before going out and talking to potential consultants. That means writing up what problem your product is addressing, how your product is structured and functions and how a person would actually use your product, along with drawing some images to capture your concepts. After having a patent attorney review it, improve on it and file it as a provisional application, you’re ready to engage consultants to help make your prototype.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

KAMRAN: I’m a big believer in avoiding generalists — which is what most invention development consultants tend to be — and finding the absolute most knowledgeable, skilled individual for a particular prototype development task instead. To do so, I suggest first breaking down your prototype into various components, each of which may be associated with a different skill. For example, if you’re creating a new toy, you may have a need for graphics design, CAD/CAM modeling, injection molding and/or fabric selection and sewing skill sets. I would do the legwork to find individual consultants who have spent years in those respective fields and have a portfolio of work specific to the individual tasks that, taken collectively, would yield your prototype. It requires far more work, research and analysis on your part, but I believe it’s wise to make that kind of time investment if you’re really serious about commercializing a product.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

KAMRAN & NADIA: We’re big fans of Sir James Dyson. He is able to look at everyday objects and completely reconceptualize them, not just aesthetically, but from a fundamental technical and engineering perspective. He recognizes the value of having an outsider’s perspective — even with a bit of naivete — when tackling problems and believes that pleasing design and clever engineering are naturally intertwined as opposed to being separate disciplines. He has the courage and patience to teach the market why his extraordinary redesigns of common objects are far superior. As you can imagine, we deeply connect with his entire philosophical approach to product creation — not to mention the fact that we love his hair dryers and fans. So, Sir James Dyson, could we offer you a meditation session with SHIFT?

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

NADIA: My condition forced us to adopt a different perspective on education than most people our age have. When I began high school, my neuropathic pain was fairly debilitating, making it difficult for me to regularly attend school. My condition caused us to restructure how we spent our time, focusing less on our standard class work, and instead prioritizing the researching of possible therapies that wouldn’t cause me severe side effects. The clarity and importance of our objective — combined with a naivete that we can actually develop our own unique and effective solution — created a sort of missionary zeal and reframed doing well on our school work from being “the goal” to merely being a tool (although an extremely important tool) for achieving our actual objectives.

In that light, if we could inspire a movement, it would be to restructure education to focus on problem identification, problem solving and the innovation process with conventional class work being reformulated to support those core learning objectives. We believe that all the problems society faces today are solvable by our peers — provided they’re given the right foundation upon which to innovate. Currently, middle and high school are structured as preparatory stages for college which, in turn, is a preparatory stage for some undefined career. All of that is an unfortunate postponement of what could otherwise be a vitally creative time of life.

The early stages must have been challenging. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” after making your invention, when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

NADIA: It’s an interesting question because often it’s hard to identify a specific day that would qualify as a “tipping point” but, for us, we distinctly remember the exact moment we realized we had something. It was on September 4, 2020 in the late afternoon. I was in the midst of an extreme episode of neuropathic pain. Kamran had developed a prototype by retrofitting an old safari hat with his unique emitter arrays and a current source. Wires jetted out everywhere. He had played with a few different stimulation protocols in the past with minimal success but, this time, Kamran placed the device on me, activated it, and within 15 minutes I felt my pain dissipating. Obviously, we had some skepticism because it was quite possible for that to simply be coincidence, but that generally wasn’t how my pain played out so we were both quite surprised. We immediately formulated a study protocol to evaluate this phenomenon more rigorously, but that moment was the tipping point.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

KAMRAN & NADIA: We have been informed — more like, “warned” — that venture capital won’t take us seriously given our ages and experience, so it’s rather pointless to spend time seeking the support of professional investors. Instead, we have focused on bootstrapping and, in the process, providing access to our device to angels — many of whom have been sufficiently impressed to actually invest along with us in the development of SHIFT. We originally thought ours is the suboptimal approach but experienced entrepreneurs have informed us that even they prefer to bootstrap, in order to build as much value as possible before having to seek venture money — which is often far more dilutive for scaling and marketing purposes.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

KAMRAN & NADIA: For a few hundred people so far, we have alleviated their pain, decreased their anxiety, reduced their feelings of stress and/or helped improve their sleep. While the scale may not yet equate to “the world”, when even small numbers of unwell people use SHIFT and then report experiencing substantial reductions in their levels of pain, anxiety, stress or insomnia, we do feel like we’ve have improved a small part of this world in a valuable way.

Did you have a role model or a person who inspired you to persevere despite the hardships involved in taking the risk of selling a new product?

KAMRAN AND NADIA: Like many entrepreneurs, we have been most deeply inspired by those closest to us.

KAMRAN: For me, witnessing Nadia battle Guillain-Barre syndrome — fighting neuropathic pain for months on end and yet still mustering the energy to go to school and conduct her own research on pain and alternative therapies — demonstrated a depth of spirit and determination that was awe inspiring.

NADIA: And, watching Kamran work all hours of the night on his new emitters, teach himself neuroscience, develop oscillation models and build prototypes — all in the belief that he could find a solution to my chronic pain — gives me a sense of hope that whatever hardships or risks are involved would be worth it.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



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