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The incredibly stressful launch of an Irish company's high-tech stress-beating device

Galvanic crowdfunded its way to market with the Pip. Here’s why.

IRONICALLY FOR AN outfit pitching a high-tech way of managing stress, Galvanic’s crowdfunding launch was a real white-knuckle experience.

“A number of us found ourselves waking at three in the morning to find out where the funding was at … it’s exhilarating, but it’s extremely tiring,” the company’s CEO, David Ingram, told

In 2013 the startup he co-founded, Galvanic, became the first Irish outfit to clear a funding goal of $100,000 on popular platform Kickstarter.

But they very nearly didn’t make the target at all, a potentially fatal setback for a fledgling company trying to attract customers and investors to its stress-management device, the Pip.

It will consume you in a small organisation – you will end up downing tools for a period of four weeks with all hands on deck, even from people that aren’t working in the company, in order to get you to the funding level,” Ingram said.

Ingram Galvanic co-founder David Ingram

‘A nice foothold’

Two years on from the successful campaign, Galvanic has built a team of 14 after starting out with only three people.

The Dublin company used the attention from the very-public launch to build recognition and funding, raising €2.3 million from investors to date.

Ingram said Galvanic had established a “nice foothold” in Europe through both online sales and a dealer network, as well as a presence in the US and Australia.

Next on the agenda was a push into Asia, where Ingram spent last week on a sales drive.

Galvanic’s product, the Pip, is a wireless, handheld bio-sensor that gauges stress by measuring “electro-dermal activity” at the fingertips, where minute changes in sweat levels reveal when the body’s flight or fight response starts to kick in.


The sensor measures that feedback eight times per second and feeds the data to an app on a connected device like a smartphone or tablet.

Designed to help users cut stress, the apps employ game-like scenarios such as a race where the on-screen character speeds up the more the device-holder relaxes.

Galvanic counts TCD psychology professor Ian Robertson as the head of its scientific advisory board and the results of a study using the device at the college are due to be presented later this year.

Pip and iPad - The Loom

Ingram started the company with the device’s inventor, Daragh McDonnell, in 2011 after leaving his role as CEO of sub-prime lender Start Mortgages, a company he co-founded. The mortgage provider was taken over by an Investec subsidiary in 2010.

“When I saw (the Pip) and I used it, having come from corporate life, I was just smitten … I could see that it had the potential to be of huge benefit to people,” he said.

While Ingram and his colleagues considered sourcing the Pip cheaply offshore, they instead elected to have the device made in Cork by multinational manufacturer Flextronics.

It was important to us that this was an Irish product, manufactured in Ireland and the feedback from Europe and the States has been very positive in that regard. Manufacturing in Ireland feeds into us positioning this as a premium product.”

Pip iv

So back to Kickstarter. Would Galvanic repeat the process if they had their time again? Definitely, although with a little more preparation – and definitely not in the midst of summer holidays.

“Crowdfunding gave us an immediate global, opportunity – we reached media in a short space of time that we couldn’t otherwise have hoped to have get.

You don’t even have a product at that stage … it’s a prototype and an expectation of manufacturing. And access to early adopters is quite critical because they’re your test base, they can give you early reviews when they get their hands on the products … it’s a very good training ground.”

This month, as part of’s ongoing startup and small and medium enterprise (SME) focus, we are looking at the health and fitness industries.

To view other stories from our collection, click here.

READ: The Spotify rival started by a guy in his bedroom and soon to be worth €1 billion >

READ: An Irish DIY startup just got the attention of Silicon Valley >

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